He swindled his parents repeatedly in order to support his prodigal lifestyle. He was intimidating and demanding. For years his mother sat in our adoptive moms’ support group as we encouraged her to buckle down. Eventually she attempted to make a stand, but the entire family, including her husband, turned on her. In grief and self-rebuke she back-pedaled quickly to restore peace.
Years later on a Mother’s Day, this son posted—for all his friends to see—how much he loved his parents and how grateful he was for their support. He sent her a long appreciative private text as well. My jaw dropped when she read his thoughts to us.
Lesson learned: successful parenting only happens when parenting according to your own gifts.
Christmas is the time of year we reflect on the gifts God has given us.
So many gifts to unwrap and examine, embrace and soak into our souls.
But have you ever considered that …
you are a gift?
Like those Christmas goodies you make and offer with pride—feeling oven-warmed in your middle as people mutter mmm’s around mouthfuls—you’ve been stirred, shaped, baked, and proudly shared by God for people around you to enjoy. Of course there are those moments your soda zings a little too much, or your edges crumble, but the Master-Baker can apply a little extra frosting and His sweetness will overcome any messiness.
You’ve been enhanced and empowered, in a one-of-a-kind way, by the Holy Spirit. You know those things you do that people compliment, while you think “What’s so special about that”? These are likely your innate gifts—the tools God has given you to succeed. And whether you realize it or not, these gifts are what make you a great mom.
God’s never expected you to parent like I do, or like your sister does, or mom did, or neighbor or church friend does. He intends you to parent according to your natural abilities. Yes, we all need to work on our weak areas. But we also need to capitalize on our strengths.
Maybe you’re a kitchen dweller. Then joyfully serve your family there.
Maybe you’re an over-the-shoulder homework assistant. Use that time to love the most.
Maybe you crack jokes, play piano, whistle, snuggle, wink, wrestle, tickle, or make beds. I think you’d be surprised if you knew how much these gifts impact your children. They provide a sense of well-being and a deeper-than-conscious awareness of belonging. The overflow of your gifts provides a sure foundation as your children go to school, friends’ homes, jobs, and eventually independent living.
So, as your serve your family according to your natural tendencies, do so, first, as unto the Lord.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, (Colossians 3:23, NIV).
Then, do so confident you serve according to God’s design.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, NIV).
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully (Romans 12:6-8, NIV).
When you serve as unto the Lord and according to the way He’s designed you, then your Creator is glorified. This, then, is our perpetual Christmas gift back to God.
This is when He gets that same oven-warm joy deep in His middle.