Our church had an outreach this past Sunday. We took loaded stock trailers and trucks carrying hundreds of bikes and toys into 8 or 9 different neighborhoods so we could bless as many kids as we could reach. It was amazing. I saw so much gratitude, so many tears, and such excitement on kids’ faces. And, oh, how fun it was to watch dozens of blissfully excited children riding their brand new bikes!
And then there were the ones who weren’t raised like I was. I was taught that when you are given a gift you show gratitude. It didn’t matter if I absolutely hated the gift I was given. I wasn’t thanking the person for the gift itself; I was thanking the person because they cared enough to give it.
It shouldn’t have surprised me to hear the other stories, like the one about the mother who came back demanding that her son’s toy be exchanged because he didn’t like it. Her anger over the team’s inability to accede to her request shouldn’t bother me, but it does. No wonder the little boy insisted on an exchange; his mother thought he had every right to exactly what he wanted even if the gift was free (and, I might add, nice). While other parents were glowing with happiness over the fun their children were having, she was pitching a fit and couldn’t see any good.
My heart hurts for her, and for people like her, and even more for the kids she’s raising to think just like she does. There is very little joy in that kind of life.