One thing I’ve learned through my transitional season of being in the wilderness is that the simplest things are the best things in life. We tend to forget that little things matter most when we become adults. Once adulthood hits, we become so consumed with our wants and desires for newness like lavish, expensive, store bought gifts that we tend to look down upon simple, creative, homemade, less expensive gifts from the heart. It appears the mottos of today are: the bigger the price tag, the brighter the smile and the larger the gift appears, the happier we feel.
It took some time for me to get to this place of enlightenment. It took for me to go through some things, including losing all of my money, to see that new clothes, items, etc. were not as important as I once made them out to be. It took living in a financial state of poor for me to understand and value the little things in life. It took not being able to go shopping for new things for me to appreciate the old things I already have. When I couldn’t buy people gifts, my creative juices started to flourish and I found other ways to show my love and appreciation.
When we were children, we used whatever we could get our hands on to create a special gift from the heart like:
- Picking flowers from a garden
- Preparing / cooking a meal
- Cleaning up the house
- Spending quality time
- Sculpting clay pots / figurines
- Painting / drawing a picture
- Making jewelry
- Writing a letter / poem
- Creating homemade cards
- Baking a birthday cake or “feel better” cookies / cupcakes
- Making tea or soup for the sick
- Creating homemade candles
- Doing someone’s hair or makeup
- Giving a homemade spa mani / pedi / facial
- Offering up something we already had (aka regifting)
The list goes on and on of all the creative things we came up with as children to show our love and appreciation to others. Now, we as busy, working adults have gotten so caught up with the ideals of living in a society that values money and trying to get / achieve the next best thing, that we undervalue and unappreciate small, heartfelt and at times homemade gifts. Some of the simplest gifts, that take more human effort than going to a store or ordering online, can be the most heartfelt and appreciated.
Why do we place so much value on expensive things instead of homemade gifts from the heart? Why do we want more instead of being content with what we have?
While it’s nice to receive shiny, sparkly, brand-spanking-new things, we must be careful not to make them an obsession of importance in our lives. The Bible refers to this as idolatry. I know when you think of the word “idol,” the first thing that probably comes to mind, besides the television show, is a person such as a celebrity, star, athlete, public figure, boyfriend / girlfriend / spouse or family member. However, there are other forms of idolatry you may not know about. I’m sure we’ve all read or at least heard the scripture commandment given to Moses by God, which was later reiterated by Jesus Christ himself that says,
“You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.” (Exodus 34:14 NLT)
“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38 NLT)
Clearly this means that we should not be idolizing people over God, placing no man or woman on a pedestal. No one but God should occupy that position in our lives. Along with this instruction about idolatry, there are other warning signs that focus specifically on the other idols in our lives. These idols are not an actual person but instead are considered man-made idols such as:
- Vehicles / any form of transportation
When it comes to man-made idols, the Bible says this,
“You must not make any gods of molten metal for yourselves.” (Exodus 34:17 NLT)
“The idols of the nations are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, and mouths but cannot breathe. And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them.” (Psalms 135:15-18 NLT)
With this holiday season in full swing, commercials and businesses can’t show enough advertisements for their products. With sales on the rise, many will be quick to run out to take advantage of the seemingly low, discounted prices. However, before you rush off to purchase items, ponder why you are doing it.
- Are you trying to impress someone?
- Do you really need that item?
- Will it add value to your life?
- Will that special person you’re buying for love you any more or less?
- Are you really giving from the heart or are you giving in order to receive something in return?
When it comes to gift giving, celebrating and getting into the holiday spirit, remember this:
“He told them to celebrate these days with feasting and gladness and by giving gifts of food to each other and presents to the poor. This would commemorate a time when the Jews gained relief from their enemies, when their sorrow was turned into gladness and their mourning into joy.” (Esther 9:22 NLT)
“If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” (Romans 12:8 NLT)
So this holiday season I challenge you to think about why you’re buying things and if there are other options besides spending money. Use your imagination, be creative and most importantly don’t forget the instructions given to you by God. Stress less on buying and focus more on spending time with family and loved ones. We all have enough stuff cluttering our closets and homes, so spend this holiday season focusing on the true meaning of the season: giving thanks and celebrating Christ. Those are the very essence of what the holiday season is all about. Remember that the next time you want to hop in the car to go shopping.
Sincerely with love,
Travel photography by IG user: @kardinalmelon