When gift giving is a joy and not a burden, I know I’m in a good place.
I’ve found I show love best by giving presents. Much to my bank accounts despair, I adore spending money on the people I love. A random bouquet of flowers to show my friends I’m proud of them, a mug referencing our favorite TV show to congratulate them, the pair of leggings they’ve wanted for months to say ‘happy birthday, go on a run.’
If you hate spending money on ‘useless’ presents, don’t think this blog is calling you out. Gift giving is not how everyone shows love, anyways. You may show love through spending time with people, serving them, or just simple words of affirmation, all of which are completely valid. I, on the other hand, give gifts to tell someone I admire them.
There were about two recent years when I hated buying people stuff more than anything. A birthday would roll around and I would groan, googling ‘cheap birthday gifts’. This, more than anything else, showed me that something in my life needed to change. After all, I didn’t love people well until I wanted to get them gifts. I distinctly remember my first clue that something in my life needed to change. I was standing in the kitchen of my old apartment, trying to decide if I would by my best friend a birthday present that year. After all, receiving gifts wasn’t necessarily how she felt loved. She needed words of affirmation, so maybe I could get by with just telling her I loved her on her birthday? That would be minimum effort with the same outcome, right?
Then it dawned on me: I didn’t desire to dote on my best friend for her 21st birthday. I didn’t yearn to show her how much I cared about her.
Simply put: I wasn’t loving her well.
And if I wasn’t loving the easiest person in my life to love, then how could I expect to love anyone else?
And if I wasn’t loving people, did I even love Jesus?
The answer was like a huge, tacky, neon sign flashing in my small apartment.
“Love” was not something I was feeling or choosing. And without love, who was I? Hateful? Selfish? Apathetic?
None of these were adjectives I wanted defining me. And they definitely weren’t adjectives that any Christian should be described as. If I was hateful then how was I to be a good witness to my many unbelieving friends? If I was selfish how was I going to be a good daughter or sister? If I was apathetic how was I going to be zealous for the Lord?
Unfortunately, after this revelation I still lived in this state of mind for about five more months. I wasn’t torn from these adjectives until I was thrown in the lion’s den and forced to face events and situations I never thought I’d find myself in. Out of fear and desperate, I desperately crawled out of the den and ran home to the welcoming arms of my LOVING parents. I felt safe, forgiven, and loved. For the first time in a while, I desired to love well and be zealous for the Lord.
Then a birthday rolled around and I happily searched for the perfect gift. (I didn’t end up getting it because it was out of my price range but I got a close second). Then Christmas, then more birthdays and graduations and just moments of “I miss you” came by and I smiled as I looked for gifts for each one of the people in my life.
I loved them and I wanted them to know.
Loving. Selfless. Zealous. Maybe these aren’t the first words that come to mind when you think “Madison Lawson” but maybe one day, they will be.