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On Good Gifts

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

This isn’t from Zulily. It’s from lollipopmoon.com. But it’s on sale!

I am a Zulily addict. It’s a great bargain place online for people who like nothing better than buying cool stuff for their kids or grandkids at great prices. So far the recipients of my addiction are my 17-month-old granddaughter Maddie Ingersoll and my soon-to-arrive “Baby Boy Bennett Kimball” due in November.

I figure while they’re still so young (or “pre-young” in my grandson’s case) and are compliant enough to wear whatever clothing their parents put them in, I will have some fun. Before long they will have preferences, and I’ll need good tips on what will suit their interests from their parents who know them.

Don’t worry. I understand that one can’t really bait tots with gifts so they’ll love you. Certainly not with something as utilitarian as a well-priced, absorbent burp cloth.

My friend Sarah Severson in Evanston, Illinois, recently had a new baby, the adorable Andrew (their third boy). Here is her recent facebook update:

“The highlight of this week was when a very nice person from church brought us a delicious meal and as she was pulling the different parts to it out of the bag, Charlie was looking at it all saying loudly, ‘YUCK! YUCK! YUCK!’ He got a stern lecture after she left… (but thinking about it now makes me giggle just a little because she had a good sense of humor about it all – 3-year-olds are crazy!!)”

All this has set me thinking about the gifts God has in store for us. As He’s pulling the different parts “out of the bag” of His goodness and generosity, how do I react to them?

I’m all over the mercy, grace, forgiveness, hope, faith, comfort, unconditional love gifts. My reaction is beyond “Yippee!” and on to “Hallelujah!”

But there’s some other stuff I just don’t get.

In D&C 121:19 we are told:

“All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

D&C 132 adds that those who keep their covenants “shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths…. [Their] glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever…. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them.”

Frankly, I have no interest in having dominions or principalities.

The notion of having all things subject “unto” me sounds contradictory to my Gospel training toward being a servant/leader.My experience as a mom teaches me that my kids (who could be considered my earthly “subjects,”) dismissed that with a wave of their delightfully independent hands.

I am comfortable letting God be God forever without my envying that title.

And the thought of a “continuation of seed forever and ever” sounds to me like the opposite of heaven.

So when God reads this, does He say, “There goes Linda ranting, ‘Yuck, Yuck, Yuck’”?

I don’t think so.

Having a few years on Charlie, I can understand that my perspective is limited. Just because my interpretation of what those blessings mean makes them unappealing to me, doesn’t mean

A) that I’m interpreting them properly
or
B) that the words as written closely approximate what God actually has in store.

I have had enough experience with God to trust that He always has my best interests at heart. I have come to think that the phrasing of the promises in the D&C is a 19th century male prophet’s version of “all the good things God could possibly wish to shower on his children.”

With this approach, I find harmony with Luke 11:11-13:

“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

I trust that, despite my own inability to distinguish packaging, God my Father knows the difference between bread and a stone; between a fish and a serpent; between an egg and a scorpion. Most importantly, I trust that God my Father knows me and wants what’s good for me.

And, at least until he’s passed the spit-up stage, my soon-to-be grandson is getting some nicely priced, absorbent burp cloths – whether he likes them or not.

About Linda Hoffman Kimball

Linda Hoffman Kimball is an artist, writer, photographer, and poet who grew up as a faithful Christian near Chicago, & joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1971 while at Wellesley College near Boston. Early on she assumed that all Latter-day Saints were articulate, inquisitive, faithful, and socially engaged since her role models in the University wards in Cambridge, MA., were. Her husband says she is “fluent, but not native” in Mormon-ese. She is a founding member of Mormon Women for Ethical Government.

5 thoughts on “On Good Gifts”

  1. Linda: In the last year, I have been thinking a great deal about the gifts that one generation offers the other. I haven't moved my thoughts to how this dynamic parallels the gifts that God offers us. I was just talking to my husband and my friend Sarah and my Uncle Gerald this last week about the scripture you cite (bread/stone, etc.). Your post has given me more food for thought. I appreciate your offering your insights to us in this post. Thank you, thank you.

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  2. This was a very interesting post. I too have no interest in having dominion over someone else but as I've thought about that scripture–"then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them” I'm not sure it is talking about people or souls. When I read it I think of stuff like emotions, trials and patience. While I have little interest in controlling another person I am VERY interested in subduing my own nature, of not letting other stuff (or people) get the better of me. So that's what that scripture says to me–that I will have total control and power over everything that otherwise might have control or power over me. Make sense?

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  3. (For instance, right now I really wish I was above and had dominion and control over the urge to eat the chocolate chip cupcakes on my kitchen counter that keep calling my name. ;))

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  4. "Just because my interpretation of what those blessings mean makes them unappealing to me, doesn’t mean
    A) that I’m interpreting them properly
    or
    B) that the words as written closely approximate what God actually has in store."

    Exactly. I think we tend to visualize heaven in earthly terms because we only have earthly vocabulary and earthly definitions. I firmly believe that it is correct to understand that, as a result, most any earthly vision of celestial life that we presume, though it may have elements of truth and come from scriptural descriptions, is still so far off the glory and joy of what heaven really entails that it is almost laughable.

    And once you understand that, that's good. It's good to laugh.

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