06 November 2014

Teaching him, while still learning

It's that time of year where the stores begin setting out fake pine trees, playing jolly tunes, and commercials scream at you with a countdown of how many shopping days you have left.  The busyness of the season sets in and everyone has a list of things they have to get done.  Gifts to buy, goodies to bake, people to see.

I remember the excitement of it all as a child.  I remember making lists (ridiculous lists) of all the things I wanted and "had to have."  I also remember my parents being very intentional about giving during this time and making sure we understood that, too.  Picking out gifts for siblings. No, not what you think is cool, but what would they like? 

One of the things I remember the most was putting together Operation Christmas Child boxes every year.  We always did two (a boy and a girl) and went to the store specifically for the purpose of filling these boxes for someone else.  But in my young mind, I couldn't help but look at the Barbies and dolls and sand art and markers and all that kept coming out of my mouth was, I WANT this for Christmas.  One of the most vivid recollections I have was in one of these moments where my mom looked me in the eyes and said, this is not about you right now.  It's about giving to someone else.

It's not about me.  It's still not about me.  But, how easily it is to get in the "I WANT this" mindset even when we have been called to give, to think outside of ourselves for even a minuscule moment in time.

Yesterday, we loaded Gideon in the car and drove the forty-five minutes to Target.  We had a shoebox to fill and I had a picture in my mind of him getting excited to pick things out for another little boy his age.  It started out great.  He smiled as we showed him wooden cars, Elmo socks, a tractor book and his eyes lit up as he placed them in our basket.  It wasn't until the end of our trip that he realized these things weren't coming home for him to play with.

So, it was there, in the Crayola aisle of Target, with a tantrum in full swing over a forty eight count box of crayons, that I found myself looking my own son in the eyes and saying those words, this is not about you right now.  My heart broke and I held back tears as I tried to explain to his two-year-old mind that another little boy across the world had nothing and would be so excited for this box.  And I know in a lot of ways it is beyond his capacity to understand, but it won't stop me from trying to teach him.

I so desperately want to break the cycle of self-centeredness that our society is so bent on.  I want my sons to see that there is so much more to life than getting the newest, having the most, and forgetting those who need our help.  Will it happen perfectly?  Absolutely not.  It is ingrained in us.  I had to fight my own desires as I walked past the accessories department in Target looking for the scarf I've been wanting for months.  Is it wrong to want things?  No.  But, when those wants consume us, it is.

As a parent, it is a struggle to fight against the desire to give our babies everything.  It would be so easy to do and our love for them is so great that we wouldn't think twice about it.  I hope and pray that I fight that urge and instead give them the invaluable gift to think past themselves.  It's something I am still learning to do today.

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