I'm a notoriously ungracious gift-receiver. It's a flaw that I'm working on improving, and I definitely can sense the improvement this Christmas. And by ungracious, I mean that I often return gifts and express exasperation at the excessive gifting to me. I am the worst at writing thank you notes. It's not that I don't always like the gifts, usually they are great, but the real reason I think I'm not a great gift-receiver is because I feel guilty. I have blessings guilt. I watch the news, I go to work, I hear stories. Domestic abuse, rape, violence, murder, genocide, hunger, poverty, seclusion. There is so, so much hate in the world, so much pain that sometimes I take a step back and am astonished at how wonderful and happy my life is. Have you seen my husband and baby? What in the world did I do to deserve such blessings? I'm just average. I'm not that charitable, I don't think about planning meals for the pregnant mother on bedrest. I certainly volunteer to cook them, but I'm never the initiator of such service. I don't volunteer at the food bank on a regular basis, Tim indexes way more names than me every month, I'm not even that great at scripture study. Why did Heavenly Father see fit to bless me with such things?
I've struggled with these thoughts for some years now. Horrible guilt at my own life. Horrible guilt when I make mistakes. How can you make mistakes when God has blessed you so immensely?
But recently I've been doing more pondering on why there is evil in the world and why there is bliss. By divine design, my life (thusfar) has been plagued by few trials but bestowed with innumerable blessings. It is beyond my comprehension why this is so. I do know, however, that I am resolving to do the best I can possibly do with what I am given. I think this is what Heavenly Father expects of all of His children - "where much is given, much is required."
I have been blessed with intelligence. As such, I had the rare opportunity to attend a university virtually free of cost. I graduated last week. Then last night, I was lamenting how I wish I had completed a different major or learned a language or done a million other things that BYU offered. Moreover, I often slacked off in my schooling, and then the inevitable guilt of the poor widow in Uruguay whose tithing was funding my slacking off arose in my mind; I then used this guilt to my academic advantage. I tried to embrace every opportunity that arose for achievement and work. I am graduating with 208.5 credit hours, and an overall GPA that is something to be proud of. I completed about 5 independent research projects. I worked for four professors as a teaching assistant/research assistant. But for the former me, I think I could have done more. I was never satisfied with my achievements. But for the new me, my academic success is indeed a reflection of my gratitude to my Heavenly Father for giving me the chance to pursue this education. I have to take a step back, put the things I didn't do out of my mind, and reflect on what I DID.
I have also been blessed with this great guy who for reasons unbeknownst to me, agreed to spend eternity with me. Sometimes I'm critical of him. Sometimes I'm jealous. Sometimes I'm a million other things that hurt his feelings or make our marriage less than celestial. But I've been trying really very hard to be the best wife, be the kind of wife that he deserves. I don't know why Heavenly Father put him in my life, but I do know that I can strive to make the most of his influence on my attitudes and perceptions and actions.
While so many women are infertile, while so many babies are born unhealthy or with disabilities, I birthed this absolutely perfect and unquestionably beautiful little being. Why? I don't know. I do know that I can take this blessing and take care of him in a way that will let Heavenly Father know how absolutely lucky I consider myself. I can read to him, play with him, take him to the park and the library, rock him to sleep every night. There is no rush, there is nothing else I need to be doing except being a mother. Everything else can wait.
To those who have ever given me a gift in which I did not express adequate thanks: Thanks. You may not receive a thank you card, but I hope that in return, to better show my appreciation, I can be the best daughter/sister/mother/wife/cousin/friend possible.