I received a gift a couple of days ago; well, not what I would consider a gift. Apparently, my brother had bought a little sign for me several months ago. Since my brother's company has my husband's company work on projects for them, he decided to send the gift by one of the company workers and leave it with my husband to give to me. Now, we don't live far apart, 20 miles tops and they are constantly coming into town where we live to shop, see movies etc., but for some reason they are unable to stop by our house which is in the middle of town forcing them to drive past it to do any of the above activities.
So, in comes my husband with a dirty, grungy box with my name written on it in a sharpie pen. I didn't really want to touch it; it was covered with dirt and grease. So I took it into the kitchen and gently opened it up. The note inside read, "This is from your other brother, how come we never hear from you, give us a call." Inside was a little wooden sign with a pug dog on it. The sign was cute, however it was all scratched up and the paper on it wrinkled like it had gotten wet over and over again and it was starting to peel off the sign, it was basically a mess. It looked like he had gotten it out of a dumpster, tossed it in a dirty work box and sent it by two other people to me. I held up the sign and asked my husband, "What on earth do you men think about when gift giving?" My poor husband just shook his head; even he was surprised by the "gift."
I sent my brother an email thanking him for the gift and reminding him I had put together a time for us to go out to eat back in January, but their schedule got changed so they couldn't go, and that we would still like to take them out. He answered back telling me that he had the sign in his truck tool box for months and it was in pretty bad shape and that he was going out of town and would get back to me on when an available time on their calendar opened up.
I left the sign and box on the table in our kitchen, passing it to many times to count, thinking to myself, "do I really want to keep it or throw it away." Then something occurred to me, why did my brother send this gift to me now, especially knowing the sign was so damaged. Of course being a good Christian I should just appreciate the gesture, the thought, the good intention he had and not worry about the gift itself. But, the other part of me wondered, "is this what he thinks of me, is this all I am worth to him, a scratched up sign in dirty box with a some what sarcastic note?"
A little background is needed about my brother and I. Growing up my brother and I were not very close, we didn't fight much and other than teasing me, I wasn't much use to my brother. The gap grew even more as we all left home for college. In my early thirties I moved back to the same town he lived in with his family. I wanted a real brother-sister relationship with him, so I set my goal and I did everything I could think of. I called him, I would bring lunch to his office, (which he never had time to eat with me), I let him borrow my truck and I became the on the spot baby sitter for his three children. My husband and I were so involved in his children's lives; we were like second hand parents. However none of this ever improved our relationship. He called me when he either needed something or wanted to borrow something I had. The few times I really needed his help, he wasn't available to help me. I began to see the pattern. But I created this monster, so I thought I would have to deal with on my own.
His children grew up, as they do and some very unfortunate decisions were made by some of his now young adult children. Because I was involved in their lives and always lead them to live Godly lives, I was very hurt by their decisions and their life style choices. This caused a falling out between my brother and I. I refused to comply with his request to accept his daughter's life style and frankly, I was tired of always being the "go to girl". My brother has always gone to church and has been a deacon at different times but he is a bit pious flaunting his knowledge of the scriptures. I have been studying the Word of God for many years, however, I talk about the scriptures when I am asked, or when I feel God pressing me to speak to someone directly. I don't wear them like a jacket so everyone can see I have some knowledge of the Bible; God has enough bad press, He doesn't need more and I am fully aware of my sins and my limitations. Because I won't share in my nieces' choices, I am no longer invited to family functions, and I have gone from the status of "Perfect Auntie" to Dad's sister that doesn't love us. As anyone can imagine it has been so heart breaking and I have spent many tears and much time in prayer that my nieces would live the life God would have for them.
Looking at this gift, I can fully see my relationship with my brother will never be the same, but the truth is there was never a relationship; and grieving for something that never was can fill you with such regret you find hard to breath. Regret can be consuming and lead you down a road that can make you lose heart, lose faith, because all you think of is what could have been. I realized now all the sacrificing of my time, my money; that was all I really meant to him. I know this is a very sad thing to say about ones own family. But a broken gift in the dirty box made it all so clear to me, about what I needed to do.
You cannot make someone love you, or respect you, or even treat you correctly. You take your chances with strangers and with friends and sometimes with your own family. We are all sinful, self-centered creatures the only good in us comes from God. That's where I end and He begins. I already have the best gift in the world ever. I have the gift of Love and Forgiveness from Jesus.
It's God's Gift; that's what should be important to me. I shouldn't allow a thoughtless damaged gift tossed into a dirty box make me question my worth, my value as person. Jesus left his throne, was born of a woman, and lived as a man on this earth for 33 years. He healed, He taught, and He loved. Then He chose to change everything for every single person on this earth. He gave us the gift of His life, by sacrifice. He died on the cross so we could live forever, so there would be no wall between God and us. He valued each and every single one of us, so much that He endured torture and pain beyond our human understanding. His gift gave us the freedom we now have in this life and will have in our new lives to come when He returns to bring us home. I didn't have to chase after Him, please Him, or try to buy His love and attention. All I had to do was call on His Name and ask Him to be my Lord and my Savior and at that moment he threw his arms around me and accepted me with all my scars, my hurts, and my sins and He made clean and new. He is my Brother, My Father, My Friend; He became everything that I ever needed.
I know I may not mean much to some people in this world we live, but focusing on that only makes me sad when I can focus on what has been given to me by God. The Creator of Everything loves me and wants me, what more could I ask for?
I know its hard, it's difficult to be rejected, especially by people you so desperately want to like you, or love you and I understand that we have so many problems to deal with-we are only human and sometimes, we will still feel hurt and rejection, we will still cry and grieve and we will still feel loss and sadness. But we can wrap up all those feelings put them in a dirty box and get down on our knees and pray, handing over that awful box to God. He will take it and he will use it to make us more like Him.
They say the best gifts in life are free, and that is completely true. The Gift of Grace from God cost us nothing, just our acceptance. So we need to care for it wisely, purposefully and treasure it more than any object or person we can hold in our hands. Make yourself a promise today, to remember that God is your Gift and there is none other that will make you as happy as the day you received Him.
I have been writing all my life, I just didn't realize it until I was my late 40's. I hope my experiences can help other who have gone through similar trials.
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