Monday, October 15, 2018

Gifted children

Sometime between the ages of 10 and 20 (scientifially proven, yep), people lose their ability to receive gifts.

I notice this most starkly in the run-up to Christmas, when the intensity of present-exchange highlights the problem. I could rant ad infinitum right here.... but I can be a bit annyoing when I do that. So, limiting myself to one observation: what is this insistence on everyone in a gift-giving network spending the same amount of cash?! We may as well adorn a turkey with a wreath of tenners and eat one each.

Young children are natural born warning signs for gift-giving gone wrong. They don't play the game with self-absorbed benefactors claiming to 'make sacrifices' for them while actually wanting something in return. They don't sweat about paying us back in kind. And they are visibly wrung out by excess and consumerism.

But they absorb generosity and love unashamedly. They barely even say thanks. What rotters!

Grace is a mysterious thing. Accepting it is all about letting go of the idea that you have the potential to become more deserving of gifts. Again, children show us how to do this: they soak up greedily as much love and attention as we can give them, without for one second thinking they deserve it or that they need to repay it.

I have sat in a lot of churches that tell me I can never be more or less deserving of God's love: that it is a gift. That the sun shines on good and evil alike. And then tell me, in almost the same breath, that my life is only acceptable if I embrace a particular lifestyle; a particular penchant for religious activity; a particular set of beliefs.

Four decades into my life, I am still realising the extent to which I need to ignore this nonsense. No wonder Jesus wanted to hang out with the kids.......