My brother used to say that if nagging were an Olympic sport when we were little, he had no doubt that I would take the gold medal in both the short and long programs. I disagreed with his assessment, of course. I didn’t nag. It’s just that when I had my heart set on something, I pursued it wholeheartedly and I didn’t let anything or anybody get in my way of achieving it. He says I was a nag but I prefer to think of myself as “persistent.”
I was particularly tenacious when it came to choosing the doll I wanted for Christmas. From the moment the JC Penny Holiday Catalogue arrived in the mailbox in mid-September, I poured over the pages and weighed my options until I found The Doll of my Dreams. I only received one doll a year so I had to choose carefully. My mother hated indecision and made it very clear that I couldn’t vacillate on the subject. Once the selection had been made, there was no going back, no second-guessing and no Plan B. But that was OK with me and the minute I knew which one I wanted, I became a little obsessive about it.
Not only would that doll be Number One with a bullet on my Wish List but it would be the first thing I would mention to Santa, my grandmother, or anyone who stood still long enough to listen. I would memorize the doll’s jingle off the TV and sing it repeatedly just in case someone somewhere hadn’t heard about my holiday desire. Seriously, I think I dropped more hints than that kid who wanted a Red Ryder BB Gun.
To her credit, my mother kept me just enough off balance about my doll daydreams to the point that I was never really sure if I would find it under the tree on Christmas morning. This tactic was especially nerve wracking in 1983 when I chose one of the most popular doll lines in toy history: the Cabbage Patch Kid. In my defense, I became attracted to the doll several months before anyone knew that each one was unique or that they would become the “must have” item of the Christmas season. After watching reports of parents coming to blows over the scant inventory at a local department store and my own mother telling me how impossible it was to secure one, I had to steel myself for the very real possibility that I would be disappointed on December 25.
But even though the odds were stacked against me, I continued to hope. I didn’t have a lot of faith in the toy manufacturer to create enough of an inventory to meet the holiday demand, but I did have faith in my mother’s early-bird shopping habits, my ability to make a decision and stick with it, and her track record for never letting me down before. I could worry about it. I could wonder about it and I could try and coerce a confession from her…or I could let the story unfold as it was designed to. (In case you were wondering, yes, I got my Cabbage Patch Kid and as you can see, I still have her .)
Today’s gospel is all about persisting in our faith even when all hope is lost. We may try to manipulate a favorable outcome and sometimes, we may even get what we want, but it is also important to have the wisdom to know when to let go and let God work things out in His time. After we have made our intentions known, we must trust that he has heard what is in our hearts and that events will unfold as they were meant to be. It is human to doubt. It is human to be demanding and like a child anticipating Christmas, sometimes it is awfully hard to wait. However, because He doesn’t tend to disappoint us, the gift of faith is always in stock, the right size, perfect for every occasion and exactly what we need…even if we didn’t put it on our list.
Today’s readings for Mass: WIS 18: 14-16; 19: 6-9; PS 105: 2-3, 36-37, 42-43; LK 18: 1-8