The Way and the What



For two days in a row this week I have been taken to work by my family. As one hand is  warmed by my travel mug full of coffee, my other hand has been engaged in helping kids up into the car and buckling them into car seats. (Without practice this is not a one-handed affair.)

We only have one car. At times this is an inconvenience, but the silver lining is that it affords us just a little more time together as they shuttle me to and from work on the days they need the car at home.

My favorite part of the trip is when we arrive in the parking lot, and as Karen and I switch drivers, I stop at each of the kids’ doors and get a goodbye kiss before heading into the demands of the agenda.

But yesterday Ellis was feeling a little obstinate. (Not unusual.) I leaned in for a kiss and she blithely turned her face away. I drew back for a moment considering her. She looked up at me. I leaned in again. The same.

“Ellis, may I have a kiss please?”

“Hmm?” A long, drawn-out question in the form of a single sound.

“You heard me. May I have a kiss?”

“Hmm?” Cooing. Innocent as a dove.

I tried again. This time, as I got close, she pulled her chin back into her collarbone and smiled, looking sideways at Karen in the front seat. Yes, she knew exactly what she was doing. We’re both stubborn. I kept at it, and she kept avoiding it. With sternness and persistence I eventually got my kiss, a mild and mushy peck, and we parted with both of us more than a little frustrated.

Today, I opened her door, we looked at each other, and I braced myself for another stand-off. Then she closed her eyes, put her lips together, and pushed them out like a little fish. I gave her a kiss. And then we both just smiled at one another for a moment. She giggled. And I was off to work.

Two days. Two ways of giving the same gift. But on the second day the way matched the what.

Today I read this from 2 Corinthians 9: Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

The second kiss was a response to what Ellis knows of me, of what she has received from me, of what she wanted to give to me. And it meant far more to me.

And I’ve been asking myself this question: What is the manner in which I give? Does the way I give match the what I give?