Posted in Christmas, Family, fear, forgiveness, gratitude, Holidays, life, love, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

Gifts and Lizards

Love keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:5b

It was a lizard but when you’re eight—it’s a dinosaur.  Growing up in North Florida, which is a somewhat, semi-tropical area, there were always all kinds of insects and reptiles to watch or capture.  One of these was a small lizard…a sort of dinosaur in miniature.  It seemed they were everywhere.  Sometimes they were brown and sometimes they were green but always they stirred my imagination and when that happened, they were always bigger and more vicious than they were in reality. But it is amazing what an eight-year-old mind can come up with when he has too much time on his hands. I know I captured more than a few…usually by grabbing them by their tail.  I was always amazed when their tail broke off and while he managed to scurry away, his tail remained…still wiggling.  I later learned that their tail would slowly grow back, and I guess I’m glad they did.

As I grew older, it seems the lizards got smaller and soon became a sense of novelty and nothing more. Gone was the fear of what they could do to me as I realized what I could do to them.  I’ve found out that not only applies to lizards but memories from days gone by. About the time I was chasing lizards and yet being a little fearful…something happened.  It was Christmas time and as the day approached, I knew I didn’t have anything to give to my Momma. Poking around the house, I discovered a plastic flower arrangement sitting in the corner of the breezeway that connected our house and a garage turned into a bedroom.  Partly out of desperation and party through the eyes of an eight-year-old, I decided I would wrap the well-worn and faded flowers and give them to my Momma for Christmas.  So, I put them in a box, wrapped it all up and put it under the tree.

Christmas morning came and as was tradition, we all gathered in the living room as the presents were handed out and I watched as Momma was handed the box and unwrapped it.  Probably speaking to no one in particular, I heard her say, “Well, these are just those old flowers from the porch.” I was devastated. I knew it wasn’t much but I was hoping that something ordinary would be magically transformed by Christmas.  Now, let’s be clear.  Momma wasn’t being mean or hurtful.  Her words that day were just a statement of fact, and she might probably was not aware I had heard them…but I had…and a scar was born.

For years and years, I carried those words in my heart…and with them came the rejection that only an insecure eight-year-old can feel.  A few words casually spoken left a wound that for years refused to heal.  Listen, I know my Momma and I know she loved me but sometimes the best of us can utter words that get stuck in our memories and like those lizards…seem to grow into monsters.  Probably all of us have them…probably all of us have said them…probably all of us regret saying them.

I can’t remember if I ever told Momma about that Christmas and those words, but I can tell you it is no longer a deal.  Yes, there is a small scar on my heart, but that scar reminds me of something important.  Scars are wounds that have healed.  As I grew older, I was able to let go of the hurt because I grew to understand that no matter what words she spoke that day, her actions over the years more than proved her love.  If nothing else, those words remind me that she wasn’t perfect…just like me, just like you and just like the last person who wounded us.

Remember this.   Christmas is about love and love is about forgiveness.  My favorite verse in 1 Corinthians 13 reminds me that “love keeps no record of wrongs.”  It turns out that love makes choices possible.  We get to choose what to do with the things that are tossed into our laps.  We get to choose what we do when someone else’s mess gets sloshed on us.  I’ve learned I can’t control others; I can’t always control the circumstances around me; but I can always control my response…and that is important.

So about sixty Christmas’s have come and gone.  Momma is long in heaven, and I am grateful that I can sit and click keys on my keyboard and smile at all the precious memories I treasure in my heart.  And some of those memories that used to be dragons are now simply little lizards.  In case you are wondering how that works…well once you’ve experienced God’s grace and His forgiveness…it is a no brainer.  After all, He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne