During December, our little family made a conscious effort to serve others and focus less on our own wants and desires. We were not perfect – but we were better. We not only gave more, but we also talked more about what we have which others don’t, the difference between a want and a need, and our role in treating all people with kindness and respect.
There were many moments when I was in awe at how unselfish my kids can be. Sure, they enjoyed their gifts under the tree, but they never made it seem that Christmas was only about them. It was about laughter, time with family and seeking new ways to bring joy to others!
We adopted a family for Christmas. We received a list of items this mom and her 3 daughters had asked for – each item on the list was “clothes.” So we took our kids to the store and together selected and purchased clothes for each child, plus an age-appropriate toy. My kids helped package and wrap each gift. We talked together, using each child by name. I wanted to make this family real.
My kids were excited to give, but I don’t think they fully understood who or what or why there was need. On one cold and rainy afternoon, we loaded the gifts and gift cards into our car and drove to the family’s apartment. We entered the small lobby of an apartment building and walked up a flight of stairs. The building was dirty and worn down with a slightly unpleasant smell. We knocked and happily declared “Merry Christmas” when they opened the door. Their apartment was very small, and you could tell that too many people lived there. I watched my 8-year-old the entire time, soaking in his surroundings. He seemed to have a lot of questions as we worked our way through the building, but once he saw the people – especially the kids – he understood. These are real people with far less than I have – we are in community together, and I can share!
So, why do I write about this now? Sure – we have some good stories to share, but it must be more than the occasional story. It must become a lifestyle! Our family must maintain a servant posture all year long – not just in December. If there are no stories to share, we’re doing something wrong!
In December, I served a couple of evening meals at a local homeless shelter. Food is a common thread – we all need to eat no matter our life circumstance. It is humbling to smile at a stranger and set a meal in front of them – to be present in that moment solely to meet the needs of another person.
I hope to expand my family’s involvement at this shelter. I’ve talked to my kids about my time there. They are too young to serve meals themselves, but can participate in the monthly All Ages event. Today we skipped Sunday School and took our kids to the homeless shelter. We made birthday cards and small gifts for the guests at the shelter. We talked about the people who would receive these cards, and what the reality of homelessness must be like. What impact can we have? What more can we do?
It is easy to be selfish in today’s world. I’ll worry about me, you take care of yourself. As long as I get what I want, all is good. Such a difficult culture to fight against! So let’s share our stories! When have you had the opportunity to meet the needs of others in this world? Let’s talk about it, and then do more! I want my kids to know and see how to live like Jesus in a messy world!