For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death, to the other the fragrance of life. – II Corinthians 2:15-16
Most people over 30 will remember the remake of the classic movie “Father of the Bride,” starring Steve Martin as the bumbling father. There’s a scene where the wedding is nearly called off because of a crisis in the relationship of the bride and groom. When the father of the bride is trying to console his daughter, he learns that the whole blowup was over a gift she had received from her fiancé: a blender. What does that say about their relationship? she wails, interpreting the gift as a sign he’s already thinking of her as “the little woman”/housewife.
As the soon-to-be (or-not-to-be) son-in-law later explains to the bride’s father, he had bought the gift because he knew how much his fiancée loved banana smoothies, and he was giving her a blender for her enjoyment. It was a gift of love from a man who knew (or thought he knew!) what she liked.
Even though Dad hasn’t relished the idea of his daughter’s marrying the guy, his love for her overrides his personal feelings. He smooths things over between the two, and the wedding is back on.
A friend of mine had a similar experience when her husband came home on her birthday with a box from Victoria’s Secret. She was surprised, thrilled, and extremely curious as to what kind of romantic gift was inside! Imagine the let-down when she found the box filled with beef jerky.
She was complaining to me about it, and I asked whether her husband had any explanation for the … “unusual” gift. She said he had explained that he knew she had occasional bouts of low blood sugar when she was out and about, and these spells were an indication that she needed protein. He was giving her something that she could carry in her purse to remedy the situation when she was on the go. (The box was just the nearest thing he could find to put the gift in.)
We women who long for romance have to come to terms with the fact that many men are more pragmatic than romantic. I explained to my friend that this gift was saying (1.) “I’m paying attention to your needs,” and (2.) “I love you and want you to feel good and be healthy.” I’m guessing her husband is like mine, in that he doesn’t see the point in a gift which doesn’t really serve any practical purpose.
Although we may not be able to control our emotions moment by moment, perspective is a choice, and the perspectives we consistently choose can mold our general disposition over the long run. As fashionable is it is to be “offended” these days, giving people the benefit of the doubt and appreciating them makes everyone happier. For example, the Christmas my husband gave me a Dust Buster, some of my girlfriends were surprised that I was happy about it. To them that kind of gift says, “You’re the cleaning lady.” But to me, it said “I love you, and I want to make your job easier.” (Besides, I had thought Dust Busters were cool and had asked for one.)
Someone on a talk show used the example of a treadmill as the epitome of a terrible gift to give your wife. I guess some women would see it as saying, “You’re fat, and you need to get in shape.” I remember thinking, I would love a gift like that – maybe not a treadmill, but an elliptical machine would be awesome. To me a gift like that says, “I love you, and I want us to have a long, healthy life together.” (Not to mention, “This piece of machinery is expensive, but you’re worth it!”) If my husband had bought me an elliptical machine, it would have said to me, “I notice the elliptical is your favorite machine at the health club. Here’s one of your own.” Of course, that would not have been practical, as we were within walking distance of the gym. But when the gym closed because of the pandemic, I went ahead and bought one myself, with Marty’s blessing.
Any gift can be seen in a positive or negative light. I entertained my disappointed friend with examples of romantic gifts that could be taken the wrong way:
Perfume could say, “You stink. Use this.”
A beautiful piece of clothing could say, “Your looks could stand some improvement.”
Flowers could say, “we need something pretty around here. The house looks terrible.”
Pretty soon we were both laughing at how, as one comedian recently quipped, “A woman can turn anything into an insult.” And I hope the next time my friend had a sugar crash and dipped into her purse for a piece of jerky, she appreciated her husband’s thoughtfulness, however un-romantic it may have seemed at the time.
We may need to reverse our perspective on gratitude:
Having things doesn’t make us grateful. Gratitude makes us enjoy the things we have.*
*This piece of “divine perspective” was brought to you by Jesus Christ, whose unspeakably wonderful gift involved a beating, a crown of thorns, nails, and a bloody Cross. (Not pretty.)
Jesus, the priceless Lamb of God, was the sacrifice that paid the penalty for our sins. Through His death on a cross we can be forgiven and live with Him forever! We can respond to this amazing gift by repenting, accepting His forgiveness, yielding our lives to Him, and being eternally grateful that He was willing to sacrifice Himself for us. With this perspective, we can begin enjoying that eternal life right here and now, knowing He loves us and will never leave us.
Or … we can, like some people, be offended at the very idea that God considers us sinful and in need of a Savior. We could be offended that Jesus had the audacity to say He is the only Way, instead of being glad there even is a way at all, which is one more than we deserve.
Joy or offense. The choice is yours.
Prayer: Lord, forgive our tendency to complain and always want something other than what You have offered us. Give us “divine perspective” to accept and appreciate Your sacrifice for us, as well as the little gifts You give us daily, knowing You always want the best for us, in Jesus’ name. Amen.