Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Beware of Beautiful Packages

I had sort of a revelation this week. Actually, it started with a gift I received from my husband on Valentine's Day. Now, my intention is not to hurt my husband's feelings by telling this story, but to share the insight I gained by it.
I am a gift giver. I love to give gifts. I love to plan surprises and try to make ordinary days extraordinary. This is probably an indication of my Love Language. So gifts and presents are something I am very familiar with.
As I approached the breakfast table early Valentine's Day, I was excited to see that my husband had went to some trouble to please me. He had spread a white table cloth on the table, sat red candles in crystal candleholders and sprinkled confetti of hearts and I Love You's all over the table. There by my plate sat two gifts wrapped in beautful wrapping paper with hearts on them. A card was placed next to the bigger package. It didn't really take me long to recognize what that package held. It was shaped like a jug of bubble bath, and I wasn't surprised when I opened it. However, there was a smaller wrapped box sitting in the middle of the table that grabbed my attention and intrigued me. It looked like it would hold something like a bracelet or necklace. My imagination ran wild, thinking of all the wonderful possibilities that the little box might hold. I couldn't contain my excitement and asked could I open that one now. He handed it to me across the table saying, "You probably can guess what this is." I hadn't a clue....but then as it reached my hands it rattled. In fact it rattled a lot. As I opened the package, realization of the noise hit me. I had unwrapped a 99 cent box of "Good and Plenty" candy coated licorice pieces. My heart sank and the disappointment spread to my face before I even had a chance to try to hold it in...and in that same moment I also saw the hurt on my husband's face. He knew immediately that he had unintentionally hurt me and it caused him pain. He saw what I had seen, too...that his gift was a disappointment to me. Immediately, my disappointment turned to anger. I said hurtful things to him. "Just look at this...did you really think this is a gift any wife would want for Valentine's day." I shouted at him. "Is this all 31 years of marriage is worth to you?" I hurt him because he had hurt me. Angry words, silence and pouting, tears, and unforgiveness were in my heart. I went and shut myself into the computer room to be alone. And that is when God began to speak to me. He used my husband's gift to illustrate several lessons to me that I'm hoping will teach you something, also.
You see, I cared more about the gift than the giver....and He reminded me how often that happens to Him. My eyes had been focused on a beautifully wrapped gift and I allowed my hopes and imagination and expectation to convince myself that their was something beautiful in that package. The "idea" of the gift was more important than the actual gift itself. All the good things my husband had done that morning had been forgotten and this ONE thing plagued and overtook my heart. It began to be all about ME.
God also showed me that sometimes, what is beautiful on the outside, is really not that special on the inside. And sometimes, the ugliest wrapped packages can hold the most beautiful and special gifts on the inside. We humans are usually drawn to the beautiful packages...forgetting that true beauty comes from inside. How shallow we are. We jump and cater to the beautiful, sparkly, popular, rich people, and ignore the plain, poor, undesirable, or unpresentable. Our heroes and "idols" (note the word) are celebrities and sports figures...people we don't even really know...and would more often than not discover that their lifestyles are probably not very worthy of our admiration. How often do we miss an opportunity to discover a genuine jewel or gem because it is hidden and seek after the glitz and shine only later to discover that it was a fake, a poor imitation, or downright ugly on the inside?
God had this message for me. He said to quit focusing on the wrappings...even quit focusing on the gifts. Our focus should turn to the Giver.
God's lessons are painful. I had hurt the one I loved...and I needed to ask for his forgiveness. Fortunately, I have an unbelievably forgiving husband. But more importantly we have an even more forgiving God.
People are more important than things! When you find yourself seeking the gifts rather than the giver....STOP! When outward beauty becomes more important than inward beauty....STOP! When your hurt makes you want to hurt those who hurt you...STOP! And listen to the instruction of God.