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Last year for Christmas, my husband and I were determined to get our children quality gifts that they would enjoy long-term and that wouldn’t break by the end of Christmas day. I knew that this quest would take a bit of research on my part; what I didn’t know was that, in the midst of this mission, God would use my one-year-old to show me what I needed for Christmas, too.
My two oldest children were easy to shop for. They were three and four years old, and I knew the kinds of things they liked to play with and do. I spent some time reading toy reviews online, and then I made my purchases.
Reeve, my one-year-old, was harder. When I was thinking about what he would like, I really didn’t know for sure. Before I bought anything for him, I wanted to observe him and see what kind of toys he liked best. So one day while his brothers were sleeping, I put Reeve down on the floor, surrounded with toys, in order to watch what he gravitated to.
He just sat there looking up at me.
I showed him his talking dog with lights. He was not impressed. I tried reading him a book. He took a bite out of the corner and then tossed it. I zoomed a car over to him. He looked at it, smiled, and then crawled on. He would pick up a toy, put it in his mouth, and then chuck it. No one toy was really standing out as a favorite.
I decided to get down on the floor with him to see what other toys I could find. As soon as my bottom hit the floor, I realized how rarely I sit down and play with him one-on-one. When he saw me on the floor, he squealed with delight and crawled as fast as he could over to me. I then got on my hands and knees and crawled all over his room, chasing him and letting him chase me, both of us laughing. I knelt and played peek-a-boo, just to see that beaming smile, hear those squeals, take in his adoration, and give him mine.
After several “peek-a-boos,” he crawled right over and began climbing on me. I think he was trying to reach the top of the Mommy Mountain–giggling all the way to the top. The pulls, pokes, jabs, yanks and drooling were his way of showing me that he loved me…and I loved every second of it.
With a foot in my bra and a stream of drool flowing down my neck, I suddenly realized the obvious: “I’m it! I’m his favorite toy!” He could have a hundred different ‘voted best toy of the year with five star rating’ toys and nothing would make his eyes sparkle like when he’s able to chase his crawling Mama on the floor.
He was having such a blast with crawling all over the place that he found himself on the other side of the room with a ton of toys between us. Instead of going around all of them, he decided to throw each and every toy out of the way so he could reach me. I just sat there watching the flying toys, and then it hit me…I should be tossing my “stuff” out of the way to reach my loving Father, too.
As I watched Reeve, I thought, “Help me, Lord, to clear a path toward you!” It was the perfect picture of my deepest desire. I want to be just like Reeve and clear a path, hurling all the stress, problems, and interruptions out of my way, so I can run straight into my Father’s arms without tripping over the mess.
I want to tackle each distraction (even the good distractions), say “no” to over-extending myself, turn off the blaring music, shut off the TV, put away the magazines, disconnect the internet, mute the cell phone, quiet the messiness of life, and…
Just Be Still.
Be still so I can marvel in His goodness, remember the gift of Christmas, count my blessings, re-clothe myself in gratitude, re-prioritize, be intentional about what matters, petition on others’ behalf, recharge my empty battery, think back on the ways He’s answered my desperate prayers, find peace, raise Him continuously with renewed faith, and, finally, simply know that He is God.
That day in the nursery, Reeve not only taught me what he wanted for Christmas, he also showed me what I needed for Christmas. Who would have guessed we wanted the same thing—fewer toys and distractions and more presence with both the ones we love and the One who loves us.
QUESTION: This Christmas, can you think beyond the toy and give a gift that spells “relationship” instead of just “momentary preoccupation”?
CHALLENGE: If caught in the trenches of what presents to buy for everyone this coming Christmas, remember that your presence is what your loved ones really desire, in the same way that God’s presence is what our spirits desire. Aim for the real deal, and forego the gimmicks.
Images from Microsoft Office Images & Graphicstock.
Graphics by Julie Finlayson.