Box. Wrapping paper. Tissue paper. Gift Bag. Tape. Ribbons. Toy.
If you are a child, there is a good chance that you will be more interested in the first six items and marginally interested in the seventh. If you have ever spent hours looking for that one special doll with the curly hair, not the straight hair, the one that comes with purple shoes, the transformer with the ray gun, the Lego set with Yoda…only to see that child cast it aside and spent an hour playing with the box and tape, you know the frustration and sometimes disappointment that comes with that. I love giving gifts, so I’ve had to remind myself frequently not to get discouraged if this happens with my kids.
On Saturday I took Selah to the Taylor Swift concert. I wanted that day to be as special as it could be, and a time for connection and bonding for the two of us. I bought her special nail polish, and took her to a jewelry store to pick out something special to wear. At the concert, I sat her in a spot where she’d have the best chance of seeing everything. She was so excited, but still, she’s eight. Right before the concert started, she spied a man selling cotton candy. Cotton candy, so full of food dye, is a coveted and rare treat in her world, and she narrowed in on it like a sniper. She started asking me for it every 30 seconds. I tried to tell her that the concert was going to start any minute, and if we left to get a snack, we might miss the opening number. But in her eight year old sugar starved brain, the risk of missing Taylor paled in comparison to the chance to eat something that is usually forbidden. Finally, the mom next to me said she was going to go get a drink anyway, and would buy the cotton candy for us. Selah squealed and gave her a hug and promised to share her treat with her (which she didn’t).
The next morning, Wes woke Selah up and asked her if she had fun and what was the best part? She smiled sleepily and said “I had cotton candy”
Wes and I laughed about it, and I told him how I had urged her to forget about the cotton candy because she wouldn’t want to miss the concert. I told him how she just couldn’t let it go. I told him how the bag of cotton candy disappeared in about two minutes. Five dollars for two minutes of happiness. What a rip off.
Yesterday, I read this-
“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things” 1 Cor. 13:11
And I have a confession. I love “cotton candy”. I am easily distracted by the cotton candy in this world, the small slips of sweetness, the two minutes of happiness. I think I probably miss a lot of concerts because of it. I wonder how many times my Father has set up something for me, something that is special and that He orchestrates, simply because He loves me, and I spend all my time waiting in line for the cotton candy. I wonder how many times He gives me a gift, and I focus on the ribbon and tape. I wonder how many times I report back to others about the small picture treat I tasted and miss sharing about the big picture experience I had.
I’m not mad at Selah. She’s eight. She has eight year old thoughts and when you are eight, cotton candy is a pretty big deal. It didn’t hurt my feelings or irritate me that she focused on that, in fact, as her mommy, I thought it was cute. My affection for her covered it. But I don’t want her to be eight forever.
I believe that my Father isn’t mad at me when I do this either. But He doesn’t want me to stay there. I mean, there’s so much cotton candy in the world, and so few concerts.
Father, help me. Help me to grow to maturity in knowing what is lasting and what is fleeting. Help me to glance at the wrapping and focus on the gift. I don’t want to miss what’s important for the two minutes of happiness. Thank you for concerts and for cotton candy, because I know that anything good comes from You.
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