The First and Greatest Gift

Yesterday’s liturgy marked the official end of our Christmas season. What was the best gift you received this year? I was lucky to get a Fitbit® and I’ve been having so much fun with it. Since December 26 I’ve walked the equivalent of 70 miles. Hard to believe, but a great feeling! As I watched my boys happily examining their Christmas bounty, it got me thinking about gifts from my own childhood. The one that sticks in my mind is from 1978. All year I wished and hoped for the “Pretty Changes” Barbie doll. She had a series of hair extensions, hats, and accessories allowing you to change her look from day-to-day. I was filled with joy to find her under the Christmas tree, and she was by far the best gift I got that year.

Several months later, in a minor tussle with my older sister, my doll’s head broke off. Feeling awful, my sister valiantly tried to glue it back on, but didn’t quite get it on straight. As a result, my Barbie had a thick and stubby neck, and permanently looked smugly off to the side, never meeting the gaze of her Barbie doll friends.

I lost my enthusiasm to play with “Pretty Changes” after that. She was broken…and I had no use for broken things. Continue reading

Broken and Beautiful

hearinggodswhisperA few years ago, a very dear friend showed me a page from her journal. It was a letter she had written. “Dear God,” it read. “Please help me fix the following things about myself.” And it went on for two pages, listing 20 or 30 things she felt were wrong about her. It broke my heart. If only she could see what I saw. A devoted friend, wife, and mother. A funny, warm, enthusiastic person who cared so much about others. I wanted to shout at her, “Rip up that list!!”

Like so many of us, my friend saw herself as something broken.  A cracked pot.  But what I also saw in my friend was longing. A longing to be better. To become some perfect ideal of herself, before she felt truly loved and accepted by God. Waiting until she was whole.   Continue reading