Let’s talk gifts. This time of year, everywhere you look there are gifts.
As I sit and think about the gifts I’ve been given over the years, the ones that stick out to me are the ones that were handmade by those I love.
My favorite Christmas gift was an antebellum dollhouse my parents gave me when I was about eight years old. My cousin handmade it; my aunt decorated the inside, and my mom sat in her closet gluing all the little furniture pieces together. It occupies a good bit of my attic real estate, but I just can’t bring myself to part with it. It’s still beautiful even after all the years of dust that has accumulated, and just thinking about all that went into making it – the thought, the love and the time – overwhelms me.
Off the top of my head, I can think of gifts friends have made for me over the years: an oil painting, a watercolor, a knit hat & scarf, a hand-thrown ceramic vase, and a ceramic plaque. (By the way, I particularly appreciate the hand-thrown vase after a brief run-in with a pottery class from which I still haven’t recovered.)
I have a hand painted ornament given to me by my little cousin (who’s not so little anymore); a photography book made by an ex-boyfriend; a half-marathon scrapbook from a friend/training buddy, and a quilt my mom made of all my race t-shirts from my first year of doing triathlons.
I can tell you where each of these gifts are in my house and who gave them to me. I cherish them because there are little bits of love captured in each stitch, brush stroke, and photograph.
One night, as I was knitting, God reminded me of a verse in Psalm 139: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (v. 13).
I chuckled as I pictured God sitting on His throne with His feet propped up on a planet and a ball of yarn sitting at His side. Like any experienced knitter, He chose the perfect yarn and the perfect pattern for His project. He couldn’t wait to begin. He thought about the recipients of the gift and smiled with delight. He followed the pattern precisely and examined His progress often. As each month ticked on, His work grew. Until finally, after nine months, a beautiful baby was given to the world.
Each strand of hair perfectly positioned
Each cheekbone strategically sculpted
Eye color carefully chosen
Height meticulously measured
Body type purposely proportioned
Personality distinctively defined
I wonder what the world would look like if we stopped thinking of each other as people and started thinking of each other as a gift from the Creator? Or what would happen if, when we looked in the mirror, we stopped critiquing the Master’s masterpiece and started focusing on our beauty instead of what the world points out to us as flaws?
It’s a radical concept, and one that I’m not so sure the devil wants us to grasp. But this Christmas, I challenge you to focus on the gifts in your life – not the man-made, store bought gifts – but the handmade gifts God has given you: those you love; those that are hard to love; and those you prefer to love from really, really far away. They are all gifts – every single one of them.
Disagree? Take it up with The Almighty. It’s His Word that says, “…I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14).