To try to pray is to pray. You can't fail at it. It's the only human endeavor I can think of where trying is doing.
- Rick Hamlin
I brought home some biscotti from a social event last night, thinking they would make a nice breakfast treat for my kids. They were in a white plastic bag, which I put down in the far corner of the kitchen, away from prying eyes. Half an hour later I discovered that someone had eaten nearly half of them.
I was hurt and angry. Instead of thankful kids, or kids who learned by my example to be thoughtful of others, somewhere in the ranks I had a selfish and sneaky child who had indulged his or her appetite at the expense of others. That was almost exactly the opposite of what I hoped. It was hard–really hard–to express my deep disappointment without letting my temper fly.
However, if I’m going to be a thoughtful person–or generous, or loving, or kind–I must choose to be that way regardless of how others behave. I don’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) bring biscotti to the self-indulgent. But I do need to be able to give without expecting specific outcomes.
Perhaps if I make a little bit of progress in that, those biscotti will have served their purpose. And perhaps I will be able to celebrate Christmas this year with a cleaner heart, one that receives and reflects the gift of Christ a tiny bit better.
Julia Attaway is a freelance writer, homeschooler and mother of five. She is the editor of Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood, a book of devotions for first-time moms. She lives in New York.