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My Christmas Gifts to God

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By Mark Azzara

Dear Friend,

It’s time to give gifts. Every retailer in the Christian world will tell you that. But the kind of gifts I want to give to God will cost me a bundle – a price no retailer would dare charge me.

I don’t think God will mind if I share with you the list of things I am giving to him this Christmas –and every day thereafter, since the list is so lengthy that I don’t think he can deal with it all at once.

That’s OK by me. I knowGod is busy but I’m sure he will be pleased to receive these gifts, even if it takes him a while to sift through them.

I am being extra generous this year with God because I have seen how much he appreciates the effort I have made at times to give him my “best.” And so I am throwing caution to the wind and giving him everything I have.

I got the idea after learning a tiny bit about Ignatian prayer, and then the list just started to grow. And grow. And grow.

The Rev. Bill Johnson said in a recent podcast that God hates whatever interferes with the free, loving relationship that should and must exist between him and each of us. So I guess, in a sense, I’m giving God the stuff he hates.

That sounds strange at first blush, but the stuff on this list is precisely what Jesus died to free me from, including the “good” stuff isn’t really “good” if it’s based solely on my own effort.

This list boils down to my effort to separate myself, the sinner, from my sins so that God can destroy the latter and save the former. I guess this offering frees God to save me from myself, in other words.

In particular, and in no particular order, I am offering God my:

  • Liberty
  • Memory
  • Understanding
  • Will/willfulness
  • Thinking
  • Emotions
  • Beliefs
  • Unbelief
  • Disbelief
  • Ideas
  • Concepts
  • Theology
  • Philosophies
  • Loneliness
  • Emptiness
  • Resistance
  • Rebellion
  • Disobedience
  • Insubordination
  • Adamance
  • Wounds (emotional, psychological, spiritual, physical)
  • Memories (good and bad)
  • Ungratefulness/ingratitude
  • Selfishness
  • Self-rejection
  • Self-centeredness
  • Self-reliance
  • Self-condemnation
  • Self-pity
  • Self-righteousness
  • Self-superiority
  • Separateness
  • Principles
  • Pretending (i.e., pretensions)
  • Preferences
  • Priorities
  • Predilections
  • Proclivities
  • Prejudices
  • Presumptuousness
  • Presumptions
  • Pride
  • Ego
  • Nagging
  • Whining
  • Tantrums
  • Pomposity
  • Arrogance
  • Contemp
  • Conceit
  • Cynicism
  • Criticism
  • Ruthlessness
  • Hatred(s)
  • Wrath/Vengefulness
  • Inattentiveness
  • Unruliness
  • Lust
  • Greed
  • Depression
  • Desperation
  • Limitations (real or imagined)
  • Physical body/health
  • Confusion
  • Doubt
  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Bitterness
  • Impatience
  • Rage
  • Unforgiveness
  • Poverty (spiritual, emotional, intellectual, material)
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Terror
  • Concupiscence (i.e., inclination to sin)
  • Sins
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Sadness
  • Regrets
  • Sorrow
  • Remorse
  • Possessions
  • Relationships
  • Cowardice
  • Craziness
  • Laziness/sloth
  • Apathy
  • Impetuousness
  • Habits
  • Tendencies
  • Compulsions
  • Indifference
  • Intolerance
  • Ineptitude
  • Inability
  • Weaknesses
  • Exhaustion (spiritual, emotional, physical)
  • Despair
  • Demands
  • Darkness
  • Discrimination
  • Biases
  • Expectations
  • Idols
  • Hallucinations
  • Gluttony
  • Helplessness (real or imagined)
  • Ignorance
  • Stupidity
  • Stubbornness
  • Frustration

I also need to give to God things that sound pretty good, including my:Enthusiasm

  • Energy
  • Plans
  • Objectives/goals
  • Docility (or lack thereof)
  • Strengths
  • Talents
  • Skills
  • Gifts
  • Hopes
  • Dreams
  • Desires
  • Wishes
  • Wants
  • Needs
  • Responsibilities
  • Authority
  • Ministries

Last of all, I will give God my own warped ideas of certain “good” things and also give up my efforts to create them on my own, so that I can exchange them for the fruits that his Holy Spirit will produce in me as replacements:

  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Generosity
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-control

And, last, and most important, my love – for him, myself and others, including you – so that God can perfect these gifts while freeing me to rest each day in his love, his grace, his very presence, where I will receive forgiveness and an abundance of these very things, which I crave, often without realizing it.

I don’t quite know how to wrap these gifts. It probably would be best if I simply enveloped them in prayer before shipping them off.

I don’t claim that this is, in any way, an exhaustive list. I am sure there are other gifts God would like me to give him. But these are all the things I can think of at the moment.

If you would like to suggest other things that I (or you) can give to God, please feel free to share them with me and the other readers of this letter. I am sure we will all be grateful for your ideas.

I am sure that I will still discover more things I can give to God as time goes on. But this is a good beginning. Yes, a very good beginning. I feel lighter already.

All God’s blessings – Mark

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Mark Azzara

About Mark Azzara

Mark Azzara spent 45 years in print journalism, most of them with the Waterbury Republican in Connecticut, where he was a features writer with a special focus on religion at the time of his retirement. He also worked for newspapers in New Haven and Danbury, Conn. At the latter paper, while sports editor, he won a national first-place writing award on college baseball. Azzara also has served as the only admissions recruiter for a small Catholic college in Connecticut and wrote a self-published book on spirituality, "And So Are You." He is active in his church and a non-denominational prayer community and facilitates two Christian study groups for men. Azzara grew up in southern California, graduating from Cal State Los Angeles. He holds a master's degree from the University of Connecticut.

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Mark Azzara

About Mark Azzara

Mark Azzara spent 45 years in print journalism, most of them with the Waterbury Republican in Connecticut, where he was a features writer with a special focus on religion at the time of his retirement. He also worked for newspapers in New Haven and Danbury, Conn. At the latter paper, while sports editor, he won a national first-place writing award on college baseball. Azzara also has served as the only admissions recruiter for a small Catholic college in Connecticut and wrote a self-published book on spirituality, "And So Are You." He is active in his church and a non-denominational prayer community and facilitates two Christian study groups for men. Azzara grew up in southern California, graduating from Cal State Los Angeles. He holds a master's degree from the University of Connecticut.

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