Devotional,  Parenting

Camp Letters, a T-Shirt, and a Lesson In Humility

“Oh, I’m so glad she liked them!  I’ve always sent little notes to the kids when they go to camp and I didn’t want Audrey to be left out.”

I overheard this statement from Brandon while I was washing dishes and instantly felt the frustration well up. You see, the girls were at church camp, along with Audrey, a little friend of theirs. Every year our girls go to camp, I make sure that both Brandon and I write notes that the girls open each day of camp. Because this was Audrey’s first time at an overnight camp and she didn’t really know the rest of the kids, I wanted to make sure she felt super comfortable with the whole experience. So I wrote her a couple of little notes as well, one for each day.

That conversation above? Brandon was talking to Audrey’s mother. And I just seethed inside. Yes, Brandon wrote a few of the notes, but it was because I organized it, and all he had to do was write on the paper I gave him.  And it was my idea to include Audrey this year. And when her mom called to thank us for loving on her daughter…this was his response?

I told myself this was stupid to get upset over. That is was petty and childish. But that didn’t stop me from washing the dishes a little bit louder. And subsequently get upset that I had to clean all the dishes up from dinner. Funny how a little bit of anger can bring out all kinds of irrational and crazy….

I decided to tell Brandon what was on my mind instead of just stewing over it. Typically, I’d insist that nothing is wrong when every aspect of my person seem to say different. I’m working on this…trying to be more direct and honest, even if it feels confrontational to me (eek!). He’s not a mind reader, and I really shouldn’t expect him to be.

So I told him that I felt like he took all the credit for something that was my project every year. I told him I didn’t need a raving review of my letter writing skills, just saying ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ would suffice. He understood, and told me that he was coming to thank me for all of my efforts, that Audrey’s mom really noticed appreciated it.

Then I felt even smaller, because while I appreciated his thankfulness, I wanted Audrey’s mom to know that it was me who did that part. But as it came out of my mouth, I realized how selfish it sounded. How much I was looking out for Kala and how much attention I could bring to her. I apologized for being petty and he promised to use ‘we’ more often in conversation, and we moved on. All was good again.

I was reminded of a component of my marriage that I had selfishly abandoned. When Brandon and I got married, we became one flesh. Which means to me that we have some right to one anothers’s accomplishments. We should lift each other up and acknowledge each other’s victories, but we are operating as a unit. And that’s how God designed it. He designed it so that my husband’s strengths compliment my weaknesses and vice versa. My organizational skills and attention to details and his personality that calmed down three girls anxious to be away from home paired together perfectly to create an experience for a sweet little friend who means a lot to our girls. A little girl that we are praying comes to know how much Jesus loves her. It took both of us.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps not record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

I say I love my husband and my girls…and I say that I love people enough to point them to Jesus. But in that interaction, I was not kind, I boasted in myself, gave into my pride, and was very self-seeking. Having Christ-like love is hard! It is so against our nature to act this way. So how do we do it?

By bathing in the love that Christ has for us. Christ loved us in a perfect, self-sacrificing way. He loved us as evil sinners who spit in the face of all that He stands for. He chose to forgive those actions that showed total contempt for Him. He chose to love us as we are- warts and all.

If we’ve truly embraced this love that is extended to us, how can we not try our best to love like He’s asked us to? It’s the least we can do to show our gratitude.

Sometimes we can be pretty dense creatures. I understood that I’d had an attitude problem and needed to fix it. But God graciously put a few things into perspective for me, even after I’d repented.

We were eating lunch with the girls after camp, hearing all about ziplines, lakes, bunk beds, worship time, and the snack shack. Brandon asked them if they’d read the notes that we’d written them, joking about his chicken scratch handwriting. Someone at the table made a comment that note writing didn’t really seem to be Brandon’s thing, to which he quickly gave me the credit for it. Laughter continued, but I believe that God specifically allowed me to hear the small comment that came next, hidden underneath all the laughter.

You see, Ava is 11. Going on 25. So it’s kind of uncool to admit that something someone did for her touched her in anyway. Especially her stepmom. She has little tells that let me know she appreciated something…the little smile she tries to stifle when I get her food she likes or pick out clothes she would actually wear. Or a side hug…that’s something special. I knew I had arrived when she bought me a shirt at camp. That’s huge in Ava words!

As the laughter and chit chat continued around the table, I heard Ava mutter under her breath that she knew I was responsible for the notes, and that was the reason that she bought me a shirt…a shirt more expensive than the ones she bought for people way higher up her totem pole than me.

I was immediately humbled and put in my place. It didn’t matter who got the credit for the notes; they weren’t for me to gain step-mom points. They were for the Ava, Hallie, and Audrey.

The purpose was to show love and kindness to two girls that God placed in my life and charged me to love. And if Ava felt loved by the little messages, than that was enough. It didn’t matter if everyone else thought Santa Claus wrote them!  Ava knew that I cared about her. And hopefully Hallie and Audrey did too.

I pray that I can continue to fight the selfish desires in me, and imitate the love of God in the selfless, sacrificial way that He loved me. I pray that I can be looking out for the interest and value of other people, not myself. What better way to show a hurting world that there is hope.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Your thoughts?