When I first read this story I was really focused on the siblings who are busy preparing gifts for their father. I wondered if I was like that: so caught up in my to do lists that I miss the real purpose of the pursuit. In many ways I am just like them. I need to not worry about my to do lists so much and focus on enjoying time with people around me more, for sure.
One day recently, I discovered I had someone who I thought really loved me (well, actually, if I were to ask that person they would vehemently declare their love, I am sure). The trouble is, apparently there are many things about me that are disappointing. I am apparently just not quite enough. Not good enough at cleaning my house. Not providing enough attention for this person. Not quite fun enough. Not quite conservative enough. Not fancy enough in my dress or my hairstyle. They use the words often, telling me that they love me. Apparently, though, their love for me is rather conditional. I could just be easier to love or they would like to spend time with me if only....
It took a toll on me for quite a while. One day, while I was walking, I was thinking about how sad and angry I felt about it all. My thoughts suddenly turned to this story. I realized that by focusing on those things, this person wasn't just being unkind, they were missing out. (There is much to appreciate about me!) But more than that, by focusing on my perceived inadequacies, they are missing out on recognizing God's hand in their own life. They are missing out on the sunshine. They are missing out on feeling God's love for people around them. Suddenly I didn't feel so bad for me anymore. I didn't feel angry. I actually felt sorry that they are not only so focused on negatives, but also missing out on the love God has to give. I no longer felt like I needed to straighten them out for their opinions about me. Instead I felt like the best thing I could do is not worry about it and instead show love. I am who I am. They are who they are....and what we, just like everyone else needs, is unconditional love. Not judgement.
The criticism wasn't just for me. It extended to those I love the most. My daughter is one of those people who truly do see the good in people. She is kind. She puts others ahead of herself. She is nice to those kids no one really seems to care about. Because of that, when people are critical of her it makes me a little crazy. She isn't perfect, but she is kind and loving - and surely that is more important than any weaknesses she may have. Put me down all you want. Once you start putting her down though, you have gone too far. I feel the same way about my son and my husband too. They are good men. They aren't perfect, but there is just so much about them that is to be appreciated and admired. To hear someone put them down gets my hackles up. (Yup. Don't mess with the Mama bear!)
This story is about an orphaned family who gets word they are going to be adopted. Their new adoptive father is a king! This is truly rare luck and they prepare for this great event as best they can. All the children prepare excellent gifts - except for one. She just doesn't have the talents the others have. She tries to learn, but it just doesn't work out. She, instead, worries that she won't have something good enough to offer.
The interesting thing is that although some of the children do not recognize him right away, he is patient and says that he will return and give them another chance to realize it is him. Yet in the meantime, they miss out on blessings they could immediately have. The story insinuates that they likely will, in time recognize their father. It made me think about how I don't want to waste any time. I would rather be living in a way that helps me recognize God in my life immediately. It is a great story.
I took this book to church the other day with plans to share it (isn't there always a picture book that makes every lesson just a little better?!) In the end, I didn't end up using it in my lesson. The interesting thing was during the next class I went to there was a perfect moment to share it. However, I didn't feel like I should ask to take over the lesson (could I just take 10 minutes and share this great story? Doesn't seem le a good idea when someone else is teaching). Instead I made a Book Creator video and publshed it.
Untitled from Dawn Ackroyd on Vimeo.
Interestingly, I think the Goodreads summary total has this book wrong. It says:
One of the greatest gifts parents can give their children is the assurance that Mom and Dad love them just as they are, apart from anything that they do. But telling them once won't make it sink in
I really would disagree. That isn't at all what it is about!