We are having a crisis of faith at our house.
Last Sunday, my big one saw a broken bird egg outside. The vanilla shell, the size of a broken thimble, captured his imagination.
"Mommy, I think it might be a baby dragon. Wouldn't it be awesome if it were a dragon? Do you think I could keep it as a pet?"
"It's probably a sparrow or little bird egg, sweetie. Remember the Wild Kratts? Reptile eggs are soft and leathery. This egg shell is hard."
"I'm going to pray, Mom. I'm going to pray for dragons to be real."
And so he did. Repeatedly.
We kept the blinds open Sunday night so that we could see the dragon if he came before dawn.
"How are you going to see him?" I asked. "It's dark out."
"Dragons have fire, Mom," the big one answered. "Besides, the street lights are on."
At a quarter after six Monday morning, the big one rushed down the steps, swung open the front door, and thrust his head out into the chilly morning air. As snowflakes floated past his ears, he couldn't contain his disappointment. Leaving the door wide open, he flew across the room and flung himself on the couch.
"There are no dragons! God didn't hear me!"
We had real tears.
It was a long week. By Wednesday.
I told my friend about it. After a laughing a little, she confided. "I remember my best friend and I praying forever that we would be magic."
I smiled. I had prayed for blue eyes. "God, if you love me, please, please, please, please let me wake up with blue eyes." But God knew the plans He had for me, and my eyes stayed a hazely brown. After all the time I've spent in Korea, I'm now thankful for my brown hair and hazel eyes. I stick out enough. I don't need any more help in that department.
Similarly, there are times God gives me things I didn't even ask for, didn't even want, like concussions, felon roommates, a second language, eczema, etc.
And from many of those experiences, I have emerged with great beauty and new understanding. Did I really need to live in another culture and learn another language to recognize that manners and morals are completely different entities that are often confused in the minds of most people? Why, yes. Yes, I did. I did not enjoy the lesson one bit. Not when I was being judged. Not when I was judging. Has it made my life richer having learned it? Why, YES! A much bigger YES! And I wouldn't take back that lesson.
And in that sense, God has given me an earthly example of Himself: My beloved husband.
My husband loves to buy me things. Often he shops at Sam's Club, so I get a year's supply at once. He hardly ever buys what I would have asked for. In fact, sometimes asking for something is the surest way not to get it. Many times, what he buys is not even what I like.
Take the year before my first child was born. We went out of town for Valentine's Day. Of course, it wasn't a Valentine's Day trip, per se; we traveled because I was speaking at a conference. I booked a reservation at a hotel with a gym because my husband loves to exercise. I, however, do not love to exercise. I had packed intending that he could go to the gym while I presented.
My husband had different ideas.
That night, he bought me tennis shoes, dark blue with yellow trim and white laces. I winced when I saw them.
"We can work out together." He smiled so innocently and with such enthusiasm, I swallowed all the things I was going to say.
It was one of the best evenings we have ever had.
Sometimes, my husband, like God, knows what I need far better than I do.
Sometimes imperfect gifts fit perfectly.