I was six when the Cabbage Patch craze hit. It was at the top of my Christmas list that year, and I remember running into the living room Christmas morning and finding a doll just sitting in front of the tree. Santa made sure it was the first thing I’d see. My initial thought was that it wasn’t exactly the prettiest doll. I was expecting long, blond pigtails, but my doll had short little loops of brown yarn for hair. Actually, it closely resembled the gender-neutral “Pat” character from Saturday Night Live. Didn’t help that it was wearing overalls…
But despite my initial observations, it was still a Cabbage Patch Kid of my very own. Only one thing was left to do–remove the doll’s clothes and fix my eyes on the true sign of authenticity: the Xavier Roberts signature on the doll’s butt.
Tiny overalls went flying, but I was horrified to find that my unfortunate-looking doll had no such autographed buttocks. I knew the difference between brand name and generic…Santa was definitely losing his touch.
My mission was clear: I had to find a sharpie and sign that doll’s butt myself.
It was my only option. I just couldn’t let people see that my doll had an unadorned butt. To make a long story short, the doll went on to live a long and happy life, albeit forever scarred with a scribbly hind-quarter tattoo. To this day, the ghetto Cabbage Patch Kid is often remembered in my family around Christmas time. Mostly because I bring it up…but it’s remembered nonetheless.
Like that kid, I put items on my “wish list,” asking God to intercede or see fit in His will to provide. But sometimes God’s answer is different than what I expected. And sometimes His answer is no. How I react is the real test of faith.
So I didn’t get that job I wanted… I can grumble, or set my mind on God having something even more perfect in store.
So that relationship didn’t work out… I can become jaded, or trust that God protected me from something that wasn’t His best, and let Him grow me in the process.
So God didn’t provide healing… I can curse God and turn away, or I can cling to God and use my testimony to minister to others.
With the doll, I got frustrated and took matters into my own hands when I should have just been thankful that someone heard my request and gave me the gift of a doll that Christmas. Obviously if I was the kind of kid who scribbled on dolls with permanent markers, my parents knew best that I wasn’t ready yet to own a more expensive doll. I had some maturing to do.
Consider the Israelites. God offered them the “Promised Land” in exchange for their slavery and captivity. Their miraculous journey out of Egypt began, as did the grumbling. God split the sea for them to walk on dry land, destroying the army behind them with that same sea. And they complained. God provided manna for them to eat. And they whined, wishing for something better. Taking matters into their own hands, they began worshiping a golden calf. They wandered for forty years making what should have been a few days’ journey, complaining every step of the way.
Why did God let them wander so long (or at all)? God led them the longer, more difficult way because they weren’t ready. They were still cowards. Exodus 13:17 says, “When Pharoah let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’” He had to do a work in them to prepare them for the battles they would face in the Promised Land.
The fact that God answered the Israelites’ prayers at all was more than they deserved. It’s more than any of us deserve. I hope I take less than forty years to understand that whenever God resolves a situation, whether my way or not, it’s been resolved the right way. And I just need to get with the program.
So I think the moral of the story here is pretty clear: if you’re going to buy me a gift this Christmas, save yourself a lot of trouble and go brand name. I will check the proverbial doll butt. Always. Brand. Name.