Last week was my dad’s birthday. Every year, when I ask him what he wants for his birthday he gives me the same answer, without fail: make me something. He has been saying that since the era when making him something was adorable and memorable. When a 7 year old makes you something it’s a sweet story. When a 47 year old makes you something that looks like a 7 year old made it, it’s a sad story. But this year, I found a loophole. I did, in fact, make him something. I made a trip.
He lives an hour away. So the day before, as I was contemplating what in the world I could possibly make him to honor his annual request, it came to me that maybe I could drive up and have my mom bring him to a restaurant as I waited to surprise him for his birthday. I could make a trip. That seemed ever so much better than giving him a bedazzled keepsake box with pictures of all the grandkids glued on the lid (that was my most recent, and final attempt at making a craft for his bday). It worked perfectly! We got to spend lunch together and I had made him something as requested; win win.
My dad has most of what he could want or need and could buy anything for himself that I could afford to buy him. Which is why he always wants me to make him something. It occurs to me that more than likely, with the exception of younger children who sincerely expect gifts bought with cold hard cash at birthdays and Christmas, most people in your life would prefer that you make them something. That means that instead of another tie or CD or gift card, you give them something of yourself. Your heart. Your affection. Your kind words. Your time. Your undivided attention. Your devotion. Your confidentiality. Your support. Your honesty. Your tenderness. Your service. Your forgiveness. But I’ll tell you what. It’s a heck of a lot easier to just scan that credit card at the mall or click “add to cart” and call it a day. That kind of giving requires minimal energy and sentimentality. Very little emotional investment. Buying gifts is not bad, don’t get me wrong (or get me in trouble when you tell your loved one that Heather inspired you and they will not be getting actual gifts this year). But I’d challenge you to remember to view gift giving as a merely a tangible way to express your heart to those you care about. It’s not a good substitute for your love and all that comes with it.
As I was doing my reading for December 6th, which was my dad’s actual bday, the usual happened: what I was reading, perfectly lined up with what I needed to hear on that particular day. It pointed out that not only does my earthly father want me to make him something, so does my Heavenly Father. My reading from Jesus Calling, given from God’s perspective from scripture, says, “Men tend to multiply duties in their observance of religion. This practice enables them to give me money, time, and work without yielding up to Me what I desire the most-their hearts. Rules can be observed mechanically…they can be followed with minimal effort and almost no thought.” It requires far less of our mind, soul, and Will when we just go through the motions in our relationship with God. We can write a check or drop a few bucks in the basket at church. Even when some motions look good to others, like leading at church or volunteering or serving the poor or buying expensive presents for those we love….God sees the heart. And that’s the part of us He wants. He wants us to make him something by making ourselves available to him and vulnerable and real with Him. Those other kind of gifts are important, but if we give them without giving out of our very Beings, they have no value to Him.
What can you make for those you love? What can you make for God? Whether you are 7 or 47, when you give the gift of yourself, the value never depreciates, its one of a kind, and it won’t be stored away for the next White-Elephant gift exchange. 😜