Sunday, December 4, 2011
What’s in my Christmas stocking on Christmas morning…
When we were young, our Christmas stockings were filled with treats. There was always an apple or orange stuffed down into the toe, and then layered on top were peanuts (in the shell) and candy canes and whatever candy was our favorite at the time. Somewhere, I still have that old red stocking from my childhood. I believe mine had one of those iron-on pictures of Santa giving gifts to some girls and boys.
But Christmas stockings didn’t become something to rave about until a little bit later in our lives. When I was a teenager, Mom decided to knit or crochet a Christmas stocking for everyone in the family. I can’t tell you what any of them look like anymore, except mine. For some reason, in my teenage years, I thought it would be wonderful to have a striped Christmas stocking—a nice, long one—with my favorite colors. Great idea, right?
Right, well, you see…no one told me that a nice forest green would look ridiculous with hunter orange and royal purple. Well—maybe that’s unfair of me. I think Mom did actually ask me if I was sure those were the colors I wanted. And I, in my great teenage wisdom, insisted that I was. Perhaps it’s been my pride that hasn’t allowed me to admit what a bad combination those colors were!
But, then, perhaps it is something else. The truth is that growing up with six siblings, I struggled for years with feeling like nothing was “mine.” Even the things I was interested in belonged to my siblings first (ie: music). As awkward as my stocking looked (looks), it is mine. It was made for me. It was given to me. It is about as bold and awkward and out of place as I am!
I think there’s a little bit of that in all of us. We look at our gifts, our strengths, our interests, and our struggles, and we wonder: How could all of these things work together? How can they meld together to make me something unique? How can they help me change the world? How, indeed! But they do.
I used to believe that God gave each of us one really big gift—like art, or teaching, or athletics, or making balloon animals. I think I was very, very mistaken when I believed that! Maybe you are better at one thing than many others, but please don’t believe that’s all you’re capable of. Please don’t believe that’s the most important thing in your life. It may just be that your passion for music will go hand-in-hand with your love for teaching. It may be that your gift for making balloon animals will help you in your missions work. It may be that your delight in reading will aid you in photography. You never know how those different interests and passions are going to complement one another.
That’s why I love my Christmas stocking. That’s why I can’t bring myself to tell you it was a bad idea to put those colors together—the same reasons I can’t tell you it was a bad idea for God to give me a passion for music and theology and writing. Though they have battled for my attention (and affection) for years, I am beginning to see more clearly that they are just different colors in the Christmas stocking that is my life. Together, they make me uniquely gifted to accomplish whatever it is God has for me.
So what’s in the Christmas stocking? A little bit of green…a little bit of orange…a little bit of purple…
…and sometimes peanuts.
All my love,