Thursday, July 5, 2012

Be Open to the Giver....

My two weaknesses in life are chocolate and beautiful jewelry.  My husband has always known this about me, so when we were first married, he set about fulfilling my “beautiful jewelry” craving.  With the birth of each child, he bought me a lovely piece of jewelry to mark the occasion.  As the birthday of my July “baby” (he’s now 24, 6’2”) approaches, I am reminded of the ring Michael bought me when “little Michael” was born.

I had always wanted a claddagh ring, and I was not very subtle at hinting about it – actually, I was pretty shameless with my “wants”.  A claddagh ring is an Irish wedding band that finds its beauty in the meaning of the ring’s symbols:  faith, friendship, loyalty. So after my son was born, my husband presented me with a small ring box and I was thrilled!  I saw on his face the pleased anticipation, and I could tell he was waiting for my approval.  I opened the box, and my heart sank slightly.  He had bought me the claddagh ring, but he added an extra touch – Michael had the jeweler insert a heart-shaped ruby (the birthstone for July) in the ring.  I had my mind set on exactly what I wanted – a plain, gold claddagh ring-faith, friendship, loyalty! That’s it. No rubies, no extras, just what I wanted - but he didn’t give me exactly what I wanted.   I’m not good at hiding my feelings, especially when I’m in the throes of post-partum hormonal raging.  I saw the disappointed look on my husband’s face and felt terrible.  I tried to convince him “I loved it”, but he knew better.

I wore that ring almost every day and find that it is now one of my most precious pieces of jewelry.  I really LOVE the ruby and prefer the design over a plain gold ring!  It represents my husband’s thoughtfulness, generosity, giving me more than what I thought I had wanted, and a very special reminder of my July baby – no one has that same ring, which was designed especially for me.  I would have never picked it out, but it is so much better than the plain one I wanted.  Not only does it represent Michael’s faith, friendship, and loyalty, but it also represents our unique and united love.

Fast forward 18 years.  All marriages go through ups and downs, and we were in a “down” swing.  My daily prayer was asking God to heal issues between Michael and me – to make us more united. Then, Michael was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer.  Let’s be real- who thinks that’s an answer to prayers?  Of course, no one does.  No one hopes to experience chemo, financial distress, or confronting the thought of being left with seven children to raise alone.  And yet….what an unexpected gift and indeed an answer to prayers!  My husband and I learned what it meant to “Let Go and Let God”.  We learned to be calm when we didn’t have control.  We learned what a living Faith really meant.  We saw the importance of our family life with microscopic clarity.  We became very aware of what was important in life and what wasn’t.  We felt the Grace of our friend’s and family’s prayers surround us.   Without that gift, I don’t know that we would have the deeper commitment to each other that we have.  Without that gift, our children would not have experienced their parents humbled, vulnerable, and dependent on God.  Without that gift, I would still be spending my life seeking control – even though I never had it, and never will.  When we give up trying to control life, we are free and open to what God wants of us.  We are able to be filled with HIS plan, HIS will, HIS gifts for us – and HIS gifts and plans for us are far more glorious than we can ever imagine.

Ask and you shall receive – but be open to what the Giver wants to give.  Be prepared for a gift that you may never have expected, nor desired - but is perfection. 
Matthew 7:11
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him!