Naptime was over. I cradled Samuel and walked into Summer’s room.
“Hello my dear Summershine, would you like a snack?” I asked.
“Yes!” She squealed, throwing her arms open. I’ve somehow honed the skill of picking Summer up while cradling Samuel, so I reached in and swooped her out of her crib, placing her on the ground beside me. I turned around to walk down to the kitchen and I heard her little voice.
“Wait!! My raff!!” (my giraffe).
“What?” I thought. I turned around and she was foraging through the toys that were barricading the giant giraffe into the corner of her bedroom.
To those who do not know the story of this giraffe, allow me to briefly share…
Summer’s first birthday was one of great celebration. She is the first grandbaby on both sides, so she is spoiled with ample gifts on each occasion. The first birthday was no exception.
Of all the grandparents, I must say my father is the most excessive in his gift giving. Not that the other grandparents do not spoil Summer with a ridiculous supply of toys and activities. My dad has just always had a knack for giving. Those who know him, know what I mean. He delights in giving generous gifts.
Somehow Summer’s existence has enhanced that gift-giving pleasure tenfold.
Before the birthday, my dad asked me what Summer would like as a gift. I replied, “Nothing too big. Nothing too expensive.”
To which he responded, “okay!” As if he understood and planned to honor that request.
The day before Summer’s birthday, I heard a crash on my front doorstep. Startled, I hurried to the door and peeped out of the window. There stood a box about 5 foot tall and 4 foot wide.
I opened the door and finagled the giant container into the house. Almost simultaneously I received a text message from my dad, “Did my gift arrive?!” he asked excitedly.
Yes. Yes, dad, your gift arrived.
This gift was a 4-foot tall giraffe. According to my father’s standards this was neither too expensive, nor too big (because “vertical feet do not count toward size”). The giraffe has since found a space nestled in the corner of Summer’s bedroom.
Until this day.
“Come on, raff,” Summer commanded the giant stuffed animal. She wanted the giraffe to come downstairs with us.
“Seriously?” I thought to myself. “Summer, I think the giraffe is rather happy in his corner,” I told her.
Nope. Apparently, the giraffe was not okay in his corner. According to Summer, he was starving, and dirty, and in need of some fresh air.
In an effort to avoid an utter meltdown, I agreed to tote the giant animal down the stairs, while holding Samuel. I informed Summer that once the animal was downstairs, she would have to move it around as I simply could not manage a 4 foot stuffed animal, an infant, our giant dog, and a toddler.
We made it down the stairs and, sure enough, Summer insisted the creature join her for every afternoon endeavor.
She dragged it into the kitchen for snack time. She hauled it into the family room to read books. She heaved it onto the dance floor and tried to hold its hooves so it would dance with her.
She had a tantrum because I wouldn’t let him sit on the couch. She had a meltdown because I would not allow her to let it outside to potty. I witnessed an epic breakdown because I wouldn’t allow her to bathe the giraffe (with real water and suds).
As the day lingered on and I watched her tote around this giant creature, I felt the Lord telling me that her handling of this giraffe mirrored how I took on unnecessary responsibilities. Responsibilities that are far too big for me. Responsibilities that were never intended for me to manage.
I’m learning that while this can be a strength, it can also be a weakness.
Too often I take on responsibility due to pride. It comes from a desire to prove myself, impress others, gain control, or an unsanctified desire to help.
I want to live surrendered. I don’t want to drag around unnecessary responsibilities like Summer lugged her 4 foot giraffe around. I want to take ownership of the responsibilities God assigns me in this season, and allow all other gaps and needs to fall to the wayside.
While the responsibilities I take on my own shoulders are heavy and burdensome, the responsibilities God assigns to me are easy and light. He provides grace and strength to us as we tend to the responsibilities He gives us.
“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” Matthew 11:30
**Ryan and I are extremely grateful for how generously our family members give gifts to Summer and Samuel. This post is in no way intended to be perceived as ungratefulness. Honestly, the excessive gift giving has become a source of comedy in our home! We consider ourselves (and our children) very blessed to have such generous families.**