Advent Devotional: Tuesday, December 20

Maureen Elwyn

Fourth Week of Advent: Love
Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.  Psalms 19:14

Have you made your Christmas gift list yet?  If you’re like me, you really enjoy buying or making gifts that are just exactly right for friends and loved ones.

One Sunday morning when our daughter, Laura, was three years old I decided the time was right to find out what she hoped to find under the tree on Christmas morning.  As Paul drank his coffee and read the news, I pulled several brightly colored advertising sections from underneath the stack of papers piled on the restaurant table in front of him.

“What would you like for Christmas?”  I asked handing Laura a page covered with enticing pictures of dolls, toys, and games.  She was eager to share her thoughts.  “I want this...” she said pointing to the Barbie doll on the front cover, “and I want...”  The list grew longer by the minute and along with it my discomfort as well.  Somehow hearing my child say “I want.  I want” just didn’t seem right to me.

Deciding this would be a teachable moment, I pointed out that it wasn’t nice to say “I want”.   “It is much better,” I continued, “to say I would like”.  I smiled smugly to myself.  I was sure Miss Manners would have been proud if she had overheard our conversation.

“Let’s try again,” I suggested.  “I want that piano,”  Laura shouted noting the toy baby grand at the bottom of the page and clapping her hands excitedly.  Two more attempts ended with the same results.  I was getting nowhere.  The score was now Laura (“I want”) five points and Mom (“I would like”) zero, zip, de nada.

Growing more and more frustrated by the moment I decided a change in tactics might be in order.  Rather than telling her what to say, I would model correct behavior instead.  Taking the page from Laura, I pointed to the Barbie which had been her original choice.  “I would like this Barbie,” I said proudly emphasizing my perfect manners.  “Yeah, Mom, me, too!” she agreed totally missing my point.

Defeated, I put the paper away as the waitress placed our breakfast on the table in front of us.  Maybe I would try again another day.

Today, as I look back on that time of training my daughter, I realize that I was focused too intently on Laura’s word choices, that the natural simplicity of her words conveyed what she intended, and that is why she did not follow my point regarding her word choices.

I wonder if we sometimes spend too much time choosing our wording when we come to God with prayer.  After all, what we feel in our hearts reaches Him regardless of the words we choose.

Prayer:  I love you, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship you.  Oh, my soul rejoice.  Take joy, my King, in what you hear.  May it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear.