Unwanted Gifts

The air palpitated with his embarrassment. Why was he here?

Walking down the mall, I glanced into the nail salon expecting to see the usual variety of women, all shapes and ages, reclined with their feet in the pedicure bath.

But there, lodged between the chattering women, the rugged cowhand looked for rescue to the windows.

The poor man…. Peeking through the glass with his face hidden under the brim of his dusty felt hat. His expression conveyed quiet concentration as if he was slowly backing away from a snake coiled to strike.

Silver-trimmed bifocals slid down his nose, and white whisker stubble stuck out from acne-scarred cheeks. Although the cowboy’s flannel shirt and insulated black vest touched the chair back, something about his posture looked like he was ready to sprint.

With the blue jean legs bunched and rolled unevenly to mid-calf, his glistening white ankles descended into the bubbling water of the pedicure basin. Scuffed cowboy boots, each with a dingy white sock emerging, stood loyally by his chair with a lip of mud on the sole.

Like a feral animal, he watched and waited for his chance of escape.

I wondered…. who gave this man the gift of a pedicure that he felt he had to endure? Was it a loving wife that knew the thick callouses on his feet were causing him pain?

Or had a grown daughter given this treat because she knew the accumulated years of working cattle had caused back injuries where he could no longer reach or trim toenails?

Did the man give himself this tortuous gift because of a doctor’s warning that if that smashed toe became infected again, it would be “surgery and six weeks on crutches?”

Unwanted gifts that heal, even when given in deep love, are often painful.

Heavenly Father, as I remember the way that man looked at me, I wonder is that the expression I reflect to you? You know, when you give me a gift of training me to be more like your Son?

Needed gifts, although unwanted by me:

Like the gift of disappointment over the job I thought I deserved which gave me the desire to ask for your direction for my future.

Like the gift of a fearful diagnosis which caused me to realize how rich I was in friendships, joy, and your everlasting love that I had not fully appreciated.

Like the gift of clear sight to see the abandonment of those I thought were committed to me to seek the company of One who would never forsake me for another.

Unwanted gifts, but necessary experiences

to discern truth

to show compassion for others

to live for greater purpose than entertainment

to see evidence of God’s presence in my life

Dear Holy God, when I need a present that I may not want, help me to look for and see you in the midst of the discomfort. Although many people think hate is the opposite of love, I realize that indifference is actually the opposite emotion. You demonstrate your deep affection for me by not being “too busy” to notice my harmful mindsets.

Thank you for loving me enough to keep healing and training me when I only want to be a spoiled child. In the Bible it records that humans were made in your image. As your child, I want to grow up and act more like you. Thanks, Lord, for not giving up on me or on my ability to learn.

In the name of my Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'” Genesis 1:26

“Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Psalm 25:4-5 New Living Translation

” I have seen their ways, but I will heal them…” Isaiah 57:18

Bible verses are taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted

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