By Esih Efuru
I was very excited about my 13th birthday, praying for lots of presents and a chance to be seen as more than the resident bookworm. As I got dressed for my party, I dreamt about my reaction to the gifts and guests, all while enjoying two-layer party cake and cherry Kool-Aid. It would be an unforgettable day.
I kept an eye on the table designated for presents throughout the evening as I laughed and played with friends. As time went on, the table remained empty. Soon, the night ended, my house empty and the gift table bare. I was resentful of my friends and most of all, my mother. Why hadn’t she insisted on collecting presents? I decided to approach her to let her know how I felt.
I approached my mother’s lounge chair in the living room of our 4th story flat as she wearily watched her beloved “Star Trek.”
“I didn’t get any presents,” I said with a pout.
She slowly turned and asked, “What did you say?”
I repeated my statement and crossed my arms in protest. She stood up and slowly walked past me out of the room. My heart dropped as I assumed the worst. My mom re-entered the room, sat down heavily and shoved a receipt in my face.
“Do you see this?” she softly replied as she turned her face away.
I took the receipt and slowly gazed at the long list of party supplies and groceries she’d purchased. I was eventually overcome with guilt as I realized that my mother had given me the real gift, my party, and had used all she had to do it. I turned and walked away to my room, immediately ashamed and sad for the insult to her feelings and hard work.
I’d forgotten that we were on welfare, and that the luxury of that party was an expense we really couldn’t afford. Yet she knew how important it was for a little girl to feel special about reaching this milestone. I’d also forgotten the sacrifices she made daily so that we had adequate food, clothing and shelter. I overlooked all of the volunteer work she did in the community to gain access to resources and free services for us to have opportunities that most children could only dream about. A decade later, while preparing to receive my Masters degree and reliving this moment, I remembered that all of her sacrificing had placed me there, where I had become the first in my family to enter college and later graduate magna cum laude. I finally saw the big payback and vowed to never forget her intangible gift to me as a young girl. The seed she planted gave me permission to believe that I was worthy, even though I hadn’t really grasped it as a teen.
How many times has God allowed favor and fortune to grace our lives, all for us to run by it and complain about our assumed lack? What things have we not embraced because of our inability to see how useful they are to abundant living? Simply seeking God and all things loving can show you a life where you are an eternal beneficiary, who never lacks and is always cared for. Don’t you realize that everything in your life is a benefit of being a creation of the living God?
Whether we realize it or not, our lives are full of blessings and gifts that we have yet to make the most of. The great truth about receiving what we want and need is that our blessings never become obsolete. Embracing love and an earnest relationship with God is the biggest payback you can ever enjoy, for the returns are extraordinary and the soul satisfaction is priceless. It’s God’s intention to give you a life of bliss, and everything you encounter along the way is part of the plan. As you journey throughout this year, remember to take all of your favor into consideration to see how loving the God that created you reaps a harvest of goodness and prosperity, for as long as you desire it. When you consider and compare the intangible gifts that God hands you daily to your material possessions, you will remember, like me, what gifts are most important, and ultimately, the love in the heart of the giver.
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