An Unappreciated Gift

When I was sixteen, I had my own portrait made as a gift for my mother for Christmas. (I know, right? I’ll just give you a moment with that little nugget of truth about me.) She was underwhelmed. I now own that portrait. It never went on display while I lived at home, but was placed, instead, in the “picture drawer” for safekeeping. It was a very expensive unappreciated gift.

I don’t know why that photo crossed my mind the other day, but it was on the heels of being unappreciative myself. I was thinking about something that really irked me…OK…it was actually someone…I know you’re surprised…and that portrait just popped into my mind. Maybe because of the pain. It is painful to give a gift that is not appreciated. And yet, here is this person in my life, whom God has obviously given me, and I am less than underwhelmed: I am ungrateful.

I am ungrateful for the aggravation they cause me. I don’t enjoy our frustrating attempts at communication. Their strange and annoying personal habits leave me exasperated. I want them to go away, mostly. Out of sight…out of sight!! (Yes. I meant that twice!)

Do you have people like this, or is it just me? Or maybe it’s not a people, but a job, a car, a noisy refrigerator. Do you ever think about your annoyances as gifts? Do you ever have this conversation with yourself, “Well, Melissa, you should be glad to have this person in your life. It’s not like beggars can be choosey!” Or, “Thank God I have a refrigerator, even if it does sound like a 747 landing in the kitchen. I could be traipsing down to the creek bed to fish out my yogurt.” 

You could even go so far as to recognize that nothing, absolutely nothing, enters your life without the express permission of God for the purpose of making you more like His son. That means my maddening person is there to do exactly what they’re doing…working my last living nerve…so that I can learn to be long-suffering, kind, loving, gentle, and confident in Christ that when I’ve learned my lesson He will take them away. Wait. Maybe not that part. Sigh.

It might also mean that as the deliveryman who has just installed your brand-new stainless steel refrigerator leaves your driveway, you remember to enquire about where that old jetliner you just chucked can be donated. Whether or not you could find it in your soul to be grateful for it…someone can, and you can at least appreciate the value of the gift.

Yes. This is a count-your-blessings post. But I needed it. Maybe you did too. It’s a short walk to find reasons to be grateful for even a lousy job and a jalopy of a car, but there are some things in our lives that are harder to appreciate. Illness. The price of sending a kid to college. Aging parents. Singleness. But then you could stop to consider the cost to Christ to make us His own, and then to maneuver our circumstances and orchestrate our days in ways designed to make us holy. Maybe remembering that even an unwelcome gift incurs a cost and is an act of sincere kindness born of love could help us appreciate the gifts that hurt just a little. Or irritate a whole lot.   

Consider it all joy, my brethern, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4