I'm a gift giver. It’s my top love language.
I get excited thinking of what to get friends for their birthdays or my nephews for Christmas. I love catering presents to something they talked about or to a packaged theme, like self-care, adventure, or cars - the latter being for my 6-year-old nephew, Judah.
Point is, that’s how I express my love.
Judah does it this way too. Every time I visit him at home, he has a drawing or a love note waiting for me. As much as I try to hide my watery eyes and melting heart, I can’t.
The gesture is just so pure and thoughtful, and let’s be honest, rare. Little gifts like these are getting more and more overshadowed by the big stuff - phones, TVs, expensive presents - that we’re forgetting how far a small sacrifice can really go.
After all, it’s the everyday stuff of life that sticks with us, right?
I think about how people back in the day used to express their love – by giving someone a lock of their hair. I think I’d scream if someone left me a note with a chunk of their mane taped to it (hello, boundaries), but I understand the meaning behind the gesture. When you love someone that much, you just want to give them a part of you to hold onto.
It’s the same with Judah and his drawings.
And the same with Jesus and.. Himself.
Think about it… it’s a love story.
God gifts us with a human to walk and talk alongside us, show us things, and eventually, save us. But He didn’t forget about us after Jesus died; He left us with His version of a lock of hair, only better – His Body and Blood that we can receive every week at Mass.
He didn’t forget about us.
He gives us a piece of Himself over and over again.
Because He loves us - more than we know, more than we deserve.
I think about the three wise magi at Christmastime, as told by Max Lucado in Because of Bethlehem.1
They found the Christ because they heeded the sign and believed the scripture. Noticeably absent at the manger were the scholars of the Torah. They reported to Herod that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem… You’d think at a minimum they would have accompanied the magi to Bethlehem. The village was near enough. The risk was small enough. At worst they would be out the effort. At best they would see the fulfillment of prophecy. But the priests showed no interest. The wise men earned their moniker because they did. Their hearts were open to God’s gift. The men were never the same again.
The wise men may not be the heroes of Christmas, but because they chose to say “yes” to following the signs (and understanding the purpose of them), they got to take part in something so special.
And that’s what we’re all craving, whether we know it or not. We want to be a part of something special. We want connection, commitment, and love that lasts. We aren’t going to get a perfect version of that from any human, but we can get it from God.
So, let’s read the signs right. The next time we see a newborn smile, a sunset that steals your breath, or a stranger do something unexpected to help you, know that these are the love notes God leaves for you.
Receive these gifts with gratitude. Take the time to let your eyes water, your heart melt, and your mind understand the purpose of the signs. You are not forgotten.
1. This blog was inspired by an Advent Devotion from Because of Bethlehem by Max Lucado.