My niece spent the day with me the day before Thanksgiving. We enjoyed many of the blessings of our relationship: we read together, silently and out loud; we had lunch with Uncle Dave when he came home for his lunch break from work (Ramen noodles is always her request); she wrote a poem on my computer to e-mail to our friend; we walked to the library together.
We spent lots of time at the library browsing books. My niece just turned eight years old. The library rules say that children under the age of eight need to be accompanied by an adult at all times. My niece was very excited that she could browse on her own for the first time, so she told me, “You go look at grownup books in your part of the library while I look at my books in my part of the library.” What a wonderful thing it was to be able to share that independence with her for the first time. We both enjoyed our own version of library bliss. She checked out four books. I checked out twelve.
When we got home from the library, it was late in the afternoon, and there would only be about an hour before Grandma would be picking my niece up. We rubbed backs and told stories for the remainder of the time. At one point in between back rubs, my niece decided she wanted to try putting my hair up with my leather hairpiece: a piece of engraved leather with holes to poke a stick through. She tried several times to twist my hair up into a bun. She commented, “I really like this pretty leather hair thing. I would really like to have one. If you had an extra one, or if you don’t want this one, I would like to have it.”
Here’s where I had my dismal failure for the day. I have two of those hairpieces. One is a light brown, and one is a very dark brown, almost black. I could easily spare one. But I thought about how different outfits might look better with one color or the other, and my selfishness set in. Finally after having a ridiculous battle in my head, I told her she could have the light brown one, because I thought the darker one would look better with more of my clothes. Then we forgot to take it out to the car, so I still have both. And now I’m thinking that since my hair is blonde (with some white mixed in) and her hair is dark, that the lighter-colored piece would look better with my hair, and the darker-colored one would look better with hers.
But why should it be such a battle in the first place? How ridiculous! I have two of those hairpieces. She would like one. The best answer would have been an immediate, “Sure, which one would you like?” But instead I was selfish. How eye-opening! I’m glad my eyes have been opened, because I don’t want such selfishness to be a part of my life anymore. Now that I see in such an obvious way that ugly selfishness is there, I can repent and with God’s help, change for the better.
Forgive me, Lord, for being so selfish! Forgive me for caring so much about worldly things. Wash it away and bless my dear niece, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Luke 3:11b
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Matthew 22:39b
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:19-21
Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Matthew 5:42
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Luke 6:38
Freely ye have received, freely give. Matthew 10:8b