Thursday, November 29, 2007

Missing The Give In Thanksgiving

I've gone back and forth with myself about posting this one. In the end, I realize that honesty really is the best policy. I'd rather show the real me than pretend that certain parts of me don't exist. So here goes...

Well, let’s see… I’ve been pretty honest about me and my quirky adventures. It seems only fitting that I reveal some of the sad, ugly sides to me too. You might as well get the whole picture.

The weekend prior to Thanksgiving, I prayed that I would quit being so selfish and allow God to use my talents for his purpose. I didn’t even put a limit on it. I just said, “Here you go, God. Have at it and make me understand that it’s all a way of praising you.”

Don’t pray for things unless you really mean it.

Let me state from the beginning: giving is not one of my gifts. I’m terribly selfish and self-centered. I always have been; it's been my lot in life. And before you tell me that I need to get over it, let me just say that this particular item is no stranger to my prayer list. I know it’s wrong, but I can’t seem to let God kick this one out for good. It’s my constant battle, my thorn in my side that makes me weep with shame and shake my head with disgust. But – I’m a work in progress; I know that with God nothing is impossible, no matter how long I battle with him about it.

Now imagine that this selfish being is married to a man with a passion for giving. He loves help others in whatever capacity that is needed – money, time, skills. He sees it as a calling and as a way to praise God. He looks for opportunities to give and give and give.

Can you imagine the rifts we can have in our house? And what’s worse is that I know that he is right 9.6 times out of 10 in all these circumstances. (I kept the .4 purely out of self-dignity. Feel free to round it up.)

The week before Thanksgiving I watched Mr. Right have a broken conversation with one of the deaf individuals in our church. Not just any individual, either – this woman is an 82 year old, single woman who lives in an apartment building where there are no other deaf people. She cannot drive, and she must use a walker to move from one place to another. She is poor and lonely and sweet as honey, and she needs company to know what it is to be accepted. I actually like her a lot.

After his conversation with her, Mr. Right told me that he wanted to invite her to our Thanksgiving. I knew it was coming. I could tell when I watched his face as he tried to communicate via finger spelling. I sighed. My first instinct was to say no. I made the statement that I knew it was a good thing to do, but trying to prepare an entire Thanksgiving meal with stops at signing was not going to make my holiday any kind of vacation for me. Since I would be the only one with the ability to sign, the burden of hosting and entertaining would fall onto me. Plus my in-awes were going to be there. He said that he heard everything said, but he felt that it should still be done. I did agree to it because if I were in her situation, I would want someone to take care of me as well.

Things really were okay with me until Mr. Right told me Wednesday night that she would at our place… for breakfast. That one sent me over the edge. Not only did he not ask if that timing would be okay, it stepped up my need to host from 11 AM to 8 AM. 8 AM… no one should have to be on duty that early unless it’s a mutual agreement, which this wasn’t. Can you imagine what kind of evening Mr. Right and I had after that? I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that the love was not flowing that night.

The next morning did go well, despite my bad attitude on the inside. Mr. Right retrieved our friend and she enjoyed some fellowship with the family. My mother-in-awe helped immensely by having a writing conversation with her. Mr. Right stayed in the living room with her to talk with her. I just visited in spurts, signing when needed but otherwise staying in the kitchen. Really, they didn’t have much of a need for me, which was just as well since all I could think of was “the inconvenience” of the entire situation.

Was it really? No. That was just me being selfish with my time and refusing to use my hands for any good and encouraging purpose. Everyone was having a pleasant time watching the parade, eating and enjoying each other.

Later that day after our friend returned home, my mother-in-awe kept saying that she was so proud of us for opening our home like that – to be so willing to help someone out like that. Me? I kept saying that I deserved no thanks at all because my heart was so hard to the events of the morning and that it really couldn’t be considered any sort of good service on my part. What's worse is that I did all this in the presence of my kids. You know they were picking up on quite a bit of things that were never said.

So that was the start to my Thanksgiving Day… which was a day with nary a thanks or a giving at all when seen from my heart. I’ve already talked with God about it, and I think I’m a bit more ready for the next time he actually takes me up on my offer to be of service to him. (I say that with hopes that I actually mean it. Surely I can’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again. I have to learn from them some time, right?)

I’m really holding fast to these verses:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:9-10

His power is becoming more perfect all the time, especially where I’m concerned.

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