I remember receiving just what I wanted once when I was a little girl. Out of rows and rows of purple, blue, orange and green teddy bears, I searched for one that looked real. She was chocolate-brown, and that became her name, “Chocolate.” I was surprised to find her under the tree that Christmas. Though I had pointed her out, I did not see my dad buy her. She is still, decades later, in my bedroom.
My Heavenly Father surprised me with a gift twenty-five years ago. This time, I had no say in what would appear or whether it even would. The bundle God gave me began a mending in my heart that up to that point I had not realized was broken. That present stretched wide my world, changed my focus, and helped to teach me what compassionate love is.
This gift was my son, Jonathan. He is funny, pretends to not like my jokes, pushes all my buttons on purpose for the fun of spirited debate, and is one of the people I most enjoy. As a man he has proven himself to be one of integrity, powerful in his dependence on God, and an overcomer of fear. He inspires me.
As the firstborn, he paved my entrance into the wild ride of parenthood, an experience beyond any imagination. I have said I would be willing to repeat every detail of my life if I had to in order for my children to exist. I would trade nothing for them. Jon is my first real treasure, and time has not diminished that.
Compassionate love requires we accept as well as give good gifts. Maybe the unexpected comes in a package we think we do not want, like pain, grief, or mental illness. Then again, maybe the real surprise is that it is worth it, and in the end we do not want to make an exchange. True joy comes in learning how to live and love well.
Jon was exactly what I wanted, even though I did not know it. Happy Birthday, son.