“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17, NIV
Early this morning my husband and I were up packing our bags for a weekend on the road with an up and coming country artist. A couple of years ago, she started out as my vocal student and now my husband travels playing piano for her live shows and I just happen to get to tag along this weekend as there is an extra bunk on the bus. Not the typical family lifestyle, but it suits us perfectly. As we were packing, we were also waking the kids to get them off to school on time. Everything was running smoothly, lunches were made, bags were packed, boys were showered and literally walking out the door when my youngest stepson asked, “Dad, do you have any money?” My husband then replied, “What do you need?” “Well, I need some cash for the tailgate today after school before my football game…”
This request is so simple to a child, but so hard for us adults to provide sometimes. Not because the money is that tight but simply the logistics of the matter can often be more complicated. We don’t typically carry cash, so a question like this at 6:30 in the morning while we are trying to get out the door and to school on time while also trying to get to a tour bus on time poses a bit of a problem. I didn’t have any cash and neither did my husband. We sat for a second trying to problem solve while my stepson started to get irritated. You could almost hear him thinking, “Of course Dad doesn’t have any money…this is so much easier at mom’s house. Mom would have money. Mom wouldn’t be frustrated that I asked as I was walking out the door. Dad is so irresponsible….” Those words didn’t come out of his mouth, but those are the thoughts and pressures that a divorced situation brings. I pushed those thoughts to the back of my mind and tried to focus on solving the problem, and then, almost at exactly the same time, my husband and I remembered our jar of quarters. We poured it out onto our bed and I started counting quarters, nickels and a dimes until we had a good $5 (which will be plenty for a hotdog and drink at the tailgate). We were so proud of ourselves and so grateful we didn’t have an empty-handed child on our hands. However, what happened next was quite discouraging.
We came out of the bedroom and got a plastic baggie in order to put the change in, and my stepson started acting like we had just told him we weren’t going to give him any money. Why would he want a bunch of quarters when he told us he needed $5. Although we explained that he did indeed have $5 he was so caught up on the fact that it wasn’t going to look like everyone else’s $5. He was going to look different. He was going to look poor. We told him he could take the quarters or take nothing. Reluctantly he took the quarters.
As he left, I kept thinking to myself, “I can’t believe his attitude. We gave him exactly what he asked for….at a moment’s notice!!” I was frustrated, but in that very instant, the Lord reminded me of something ever so gently. It was almost as if I could hear Him laughing saying, “He acts that way about quarters, but Misty, you act that way about your own family some time.” It stopped me dead in my tracks. That voice of conviction was right – sometimes I get so caught up in the fact that my family doesn’t look like I expected it would because my children aren’t my flesh and blood and there’s pressure from an ex-wife. Sometimes I act entitled – just like my stepson thinking he needed actual dollar bills. However, the value in the quarters was the same as the dollar bills, but the perspective was off. The gift and the provision, whether given in dollars or pennies, is essentially the same. The only difference is the weight.
Blended families are hard. Sometimes they feel kind of heavy and we can find ourselves daydreaming about the “perfect” almost-weightless family that we can miss the forest for the trees. Instead of thanking God for the blessing that’s right in front of us and for the gift he has so graciously bestowed upon us, we wind up acting like my stepson and telling God, “Uh…I think you misunderstood…” On the tough days, ask the Lord to show you the blessing of your family. Thank Him for the good things in your life. Thank Him for the provision He sends in the most unexpected of ways. Lay down your expectations and let Him be the God He is and bless you as He sees fit. It will no doubt stir up a heart of gratefulness, and you’ll find you don’t mind carrying around that bag of heavy quarters…you’ll probably like the way they shine.