Do I deserve this?

She stopped by on her way out-of-town to kiss the girls and pick up some odds and ends she had left here. She came bearing gifts, books I should read and one I lent her, and a handbag she had no use for. She travels light these days, easier to go where she’s called. Someone had given this bag to her and she thought maybe I could use it somehow. We hugged and looked at each other until we were both sure our tears would not well over. I wished her well, and meant it.

Last week I could not find the canvas flowered bag I bought for $16.99 when I was attempting to cloth diaper two butts. So, the handbag came out of its silky pillow case protector bag and my stuff got tossed in so I could make it out of the house on time.

I liked this bag more than I thought I would. It is the perfect size and the zippers on the sides change the size when I miss judge the amount of space I have and am desperate need of just a few more inches of space. (I have some serious spacial awareness issues.) It is a solid color and doesn’t have a logo splashed all over it. It fits my netbook perfectly. It makes me feel like a lady and not like a mommy.

The mistake I made was googling it. I had never heard of this particular brand (it wasn’t Coach or Gucci) and I was curious. Apparently, the bag that was sitting on the floor of my classroom could cover half my mortgage if sold on eBay. And I wondered if it was ethical to keep it, this gift that is now twice owned but still looked brand new. How much good could I do if I sold it? With bloggers I read building schools in Haiti and friends running marathons for She’s the First, to raise money for 26 girls to go be educated in India, was it okay to keep an expensive gift?

I took the kids to the mall on Saturday. I wanted to wander around Kohl’s in the hopes that inspiration would strike and I would find gifts for those impossible to buy gifts for. The Peanut was not having it. She had her own agenda from how we should stop at every single Christmas tree so that she could touch all the ornaments to which direction the stroller should be pushed. When she refused to go upstairs to look at kitchen appliances I gave up and headed for the inner-belly of the mall. After looking at Santa (but do NOT broach the subject of talking to Santa) both before and after he “went to go feed the reindeer” and came back a different race, the train came by. The Peanut was mesmerized and the Rooster was shouting out “Yeah!” “Wee!” “Yeah!” Follow that train! We went speeding after it, me and the double stroller and found the place where it parks. The man selling tickets even let me take the Rooster on for free.

We (read: the Peanut) selected the green train car and we hopped in. As I squished against the bench I asked the Peanut if this made her happy. “Yeah!” she cried, “We ride the train!” She did not deserve this ride, this thing that made her happy. This was not a reward for being patient while mommy shopped.  I suppose I could have spent those five dollars on one of the projects listed above. But, when I bent down to look in those shining brown eyes I saw the wonder of the moment. “I am so glad this makes you happy,” I told her, “I love you and I like to give you things that bring you joy.”

This is not to say that I value happiness over all else. This Sunday singing “Lord prepare her, to be a sanctuary,” over Rilla’s head made me aware of the depth of this prayer. There will be pain and grief, but the Lord desire to give us good things, things that give us joy. The trick is learning to hold them with an open hand.

I stumbled across the website of a literary agent I deeply respect. She is taking submissions for the kind of book I want to write. I just need a proposal and a query letter. I could do that I think. I have about the first five chapters written. But I’m scared, this the lie I am believing: I don’t deserve this. And maybe I do, and maybe I don’t, and maybe that isn’t the point. Maybe doing it is the point, walking it out with the Lord.

I have exactly zero idea whether this will amount to anything or not. I am well aware an expensive handbag isn’t really something that anyone “deserves.” But I am learning to let my head rest in the hands of the giver, let Him look into my eyes and smile softly into my life, hear the whisper that is meant for me, “I am so glad you like this,  I am glad it gives you joy.”

This perspective was partially shaped by Margaret Fienberg’s new book Wonderstruck being released Christmas day. I read the first few chapters and it is going to be good! Pre-order here.

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4 thoughts on “Do I deserve this?

  1. I hope every time you look in the mirror and see your handbag you feel God’s arms of love wrapped around you. Proud of you for working on your book! Takes a lot of courage to write! You can do this!

  2. Hi Abby,

    Your blog really struck a chord with me. My bible study is currently working through Rob Bell’s “Love Wins”, and we’re on chapter 7, “The good news is better than that”. Your feelings about the bag reminded me of Rob’s description of the older brother in the “prodigal son” parable, the one whose understanding of his father was one of a tyrant, a slave driver, one who loves and blesses only those who are absolutely obedient and hardworking. But when the older brother complained to his father regarding the blessings bestowed upon the returned son, his father’s reply was, “You are always with me and everything I have is yours.” What Rob has taught me is that everything on earth is God’s, and because we are his children, we get to enjoy his blessings, not because we deserve it, but because he is a father of boundless grace and love, and we have the choice of enjoying his blessings or rejecting them. So my take on the bag – ENJOY IT! Not because you deserve it but because God loves you and wanted you to be blessed by it.

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