The small, unwrapped gift box sat alone under the Christmas Tree. I almost missed it among the piles of crinkled up wrapping paper, but now I picked it up and read the tag, which was practically duck-taped to the box.
"What's this?" I said aloud. "To Robert, from Santa." Raising my eyebrows, I glanced at my husband. "It's for you," I said, handing over the gift.
My husband narrowed his eyes and looked up at me suspiciously. I shrugged; I had absolutely no idea where the gift had come from, although I couldn't help noticing a certain gleam in my eleven-year-old son's eye. Hmmm.
Rob opened the box and pulled out an ugly chunk of black rock. Along with the "coal", there was a note, the crooked handwriting oddly resembling my son's. Rob read the note aloud. "Dear Robert, you're on the naughty list until you get your children a hamster." I laughed as he continued. "P.S. They want a black and white one."
I'll admit my husband and I are not really "pet people." We tend to prefer a clean house, free of muddy paw prints and "accident" stains. We enjoy eating dinner without finding hair other than our own in the food. And forgive me, but I shudder at the thought of cleaning a messy hamster cage and the smell that inevitably goes along with it! Plus, when we factor in cost, and the hassle of finding a pet-sitter every time we want to go out of town for a couple of days, our anti-pet position becomes even more justifiable.
But kids somehow seem to have a pet pre-disposition and our own two had been begging for one for the past several months. We had heard pleas for a dog, cat, rabbit, gerbil, bird, and the most recent, hamster. My husband finally appeased them by stating that we would buy them a pet on one condition: they had to prove they were responsible by keeping their rooms clean for one straight month. Of course, we knew this was an impossible request and we would likely be pet-free forever. Bless their little hearts for trying but my husband and I secretly rejoiced over every pair of underwear we found on their bedroom floors.
So now my son had decided that since he was not getting his way, my husband deserved to be on the "naughty list". Somehow, I was exempt from this list, probably because my son knew that if only he could convince his dad, I would be an easier sell (read: pushover).
I wonder how often I put God on the "naughty list" when I don't get my way. I may not hand Him a piece of coal but I have a feeling that's exactly what He sees when He looks at my heart. When I make a request that He doesn't answer right away, I get frustrated and impatient. When the answer is "no", I'll pout, get angry, and sometimes even let bitterness in. And when He says "yes," but asks something of me in return, I must confess I often whine and complain and refuse His terms altogether. I give Him an invisible note telling Him He is on my "naughty list" and will be until I get what I want. I may even include a P.S. on the bottom, informing Him - again - on the exact details of my request.
I know from the Bible that God wants to give me the desires of my heart. I also realize that sometimes my heart's desires are selfishly motivated and don't line up with God's will at all. My goal should be not to ask God to give me everything I want, but to pray that He reveals to me what HIS desires are for my life and to change my heart to correspond with His. Those are the desires God will delight in fulfilling.
Unfortunately, no matter how hard I pray, I doubt God will change my son's desire for a pet. In fact, I think He's changing my heart as well as my husband's, because - gasp! - we've actually been discussing buying a cat for the kids.
I guess this means Rob will now be transferred to the "nice list". That is, until next Christmas when my daughter decides she wants a pony. Of course, it is possible that we'll suddenly have the desire to live on a farm.
Yeah, right. About as possible as my kids picking the underwear up off their bedroom floors.
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I have read several of your pieces Lynda and I have to say that each one has ministered to my spirit in a personal way. You have such a gift in taking every day situations, adding a pinch of humor and comedy and serving us main course meals on this platter called Faith Writer's. Great work Lynda. God bless you.