The other evening, we watched Kalyb break down in tears. However, it wasn’t the type of cry that evokes my maternal instincts to comfort and console. I was embarrassed. He should be embarrassed. We’re raising him ‘better than this’, I promise!
The heartbreak had already begun when he opened his 3rd present and received pajamas. Something he needs, mind you, as his pajamas from years past slowly creep up his lengthening legs. But compared to the automatic nerf-gun thingamajig and the lighted, flip able remote controlled piece of glory he had already received, pajamas fell a little short in his 5 year old mind. Before opening his final present (of his sixth Christmas celebration in addition to receiving several articles from my friends), his Grandpa even prompted him, ‘this one is clothes too.’
He eagerly tore into the wrapping paper and struggled with the tape before unveiling….pants and a shirt. Tears welled up, the arms crossed and forced sobs erupted from his body. We all stared in disbelief for a moment before I fully realized what was going on and immediately directed him to a back bedroom.
As I crouched in front of him trying to explain the ungrateful attitude he was presenting and the consequences that might follow, I was humbled. How often do I pout about the gifts the Lord has given me because they aren’t exactly what I pictured? How many adult temper tantrums (that mask themselves in harsh words, passive aggressive actions and silence) have I thrown when what I’ve received isn’t what I feel ‘I deserve’?
Although I never said the word ‘selfish’ in this particular conversation, Kalyb adamantly claimed, ‘but I’m NOT selfish!’. We have had many conversations of this battle we fight between flesh and spirt, so embarking on this topic of selfishness was not unheard of. Yes, Kalyb, we are selfish. We innately want to protect ourselves- guard our hearts from pain and disappointment (like receiving pj’s), get what causes our own self joy (like remote controlled objects and guns), and indulge in the momentary satisfactions of our own desires (such as toys, toys, and more toys!). I agree with you, son, that many choices you make involve you denying yourself and looking out for the good of others. But right now, in this moment, you’re choosing to act selfish.
What’s crazy is that two weeks ago, we celebrated our first Dicken family Christmas time with just the three of us. We prayed and talked about the meaning of Christmas and what Jesus’ life came to mean to us. Kalyb excitedly opened his stocking and was thrilled – the $1 glow-in-the-dark snowman stick and the $1 2-pack of silly putty stole the prize. He passionately encouraged us to open our gifts as he reveled in the awesomeness of his new gifts, not realizing some of the wrapped presents lingering under the tree were also for him. And, not knowing that five other gift-opening opportunities would follow over the next two weeks (one with my mom, Jim & Becca, one with my dad & Becca, one with Josiah’s mom, stepdad, sister & family (including gifts from his mom’s extended family), one with Josiah’s dad, stepmom and family, and one with the gifts from his mom).
We watched a greediness follow. As he opened more, he expected more. Once remote controlled cars, bowling sets, and walkie-talkies appeared, hugs would follow and quotes like ‘just what I always wanted’ would graciously pour from his lips. Upon opening books and clothes, a pout would follow.
How much am I like this? Quick to sing praises as my circumstances fit my desires. Quick to complain as His plans don’t always strike my fancy. I didn’t want to move to TX. I didn’t want to leave my friends and family. I don’t like working 12-15 hour days, 5 days a week for going on 5 months. And at times, I’ve complained (like right now). I’ve wondered why it isn’t what I want and, I admit, I’ve broken down into tears over it. I’ve cried. I’ve crossed my arms. I’ve pouted. And I’ve been selfish.
As Kalyb re-entered the room where he had previously melted down, he apologized. He thanked them for the gifts he needed although he might not have wanted them. He mistakenly apologized for being ‘unselfish’ but meant ‘selfish’. And, his grandpa was quick to say, ‘it’s okay’. His Grandma and I were quick to correct him – no, it’s not okay. It’s not okay or acceptable to act like that. It’s forgivable, yes. Understandable, maybe. But okay? No, it’s not. In our selfishness, we become blinded to God’s provision, God’s blessing, God’s plan that far outdoes our own vision and agenda. That is not okay.
I’ve been blessed immensely these past five months living in a state that is dear to my heart but so far from friends and family that are even dearer. But, we’ve been blessed. My husband becomes more amazing each day – serving, loving, growing, leading, challenging and encouraging. Kalyb humbles us and reminds us for our dependency on Jesus as we so desire to train him in the Lord’s ways – and it’s such an encouragement to be a part of that transformation. We were able to see everyone in our immediate families over the past few weeks. And we’ve climbed out of so much debt by being faithful with what we’ve been given.
Lord, help me see what you give me as something I need to experience in order to know you more. Those challenges that seem so frustrating; help me praise You. The times where my patience is running thin; let me be filled with You. Those times I want to cry because I’m overwhelmed and burnt out (namely days like today); let me rejoice that your joy does, in fact, come in the morning! (And particularly tomorrow because I get to sleep in an extra hour and a half.) Time and time again!