“For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?”
~1 Corinthians 3:3
I was looking forward to joining my daughter to hear her boyfriend’s band play at a local venue. It would be “special time” with her that I sorely needed. I arrived late; the place packed with people. I snaked through the tables to find my daughter. I spotted her sitting with my ex-husband’s girlfriend! My heart sank into a momentary pool of jealousy; the flash of emotion so fast and uncontrollable, that I was startled by my reaction. I retreated to another table and sat down. I needed some time to allow my fear to settle down.
My fear tells me that I won’t get the love I deserve, or that there isn’t enough love to go around. One way or another, I will get cheated. None of that is ever true, I know. When I could think and feel rationally again, I got up and made my way to my daughter and embraced her. I embraced my ex-husband’s girlfriend, too. All of us had a fantastic night, and there was plenty of love to go around.
It’s so easy to slip into worldly worries. Our fragile egos are quickly triggered. When we put our focus and attention where they need to be, on God’s love, we can recover from our momentary emotional highjacking. We can move out of fear and into love. There is enough love to go around, always. It is only fear—False Evidence Appearing Real—that makes us think otherwise.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others…”
“I want you to be a light for others,” God told me on our morning walk together.
“I thought I was already,” I said, rather defensively. God laughed, as He is apt to do when He talks with me.
“Yes, but I want you to really shine now. Really burn.”
“What about burning?” I asked. I wasn’t thrilled with the word.
“The work of being a candle is that it has to burn in order to share its light,” God explained.
“You want me to burn?” I asked. I’m sure God could hear the concern in my voice.
“I want you to burn with my love for you. I want you to be on fire with the Holy Spirit. I want you to shine so bright that other’s hearts will be illuminated.”
“So, it’s a metaphor, this fire you speak of,” I said, relieved.
“Of course it is Sparrow,” God smiled. ” I want you to fall even more in love with me. I want you to trust me even more than you do.”
“How do I do that?” I asked.
“I’ll help you,” He said gently as He rested His hand on my shoulder.
God wants you to do the work of burning for Him, too. To share your light with others, you’ve got to be on fire for God. It doesn’t happen on its own; you’ve got to strike the match. Ignite your reality with God.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…”
It’s interesting that the Christmas season begins with a tradition that seems so far removed from Christ: Black Friday. We stand in store lines in the early hours of the morning and stampede the doors once they’ve been opened. We argue and fight with others, grabbing products out of each other’s hands. I can’t imagine Jesus rushing the doors of Walmart to fight His way to the big screen TVs, pushing and shoving other shoppers out of His way, can you?
The best gift you can give someone doesn’t come from a store wrapped in pretty paper and tied with a bow. The best gift you can give someone is your time and attention; your love.
As we begin this holiday season, let’s be mindful of what Christmas is really all about; God so loved the world that He gave us His son who taught us that we are to love one another. Let’s make this year the year that we put aside our resentments, our differences, our judgments and be with one another the way Jesus commanded us to be; the way He was. He listened. He loved. He healed. He shared His Father’s love with everyone.
For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
“You’re a runner,” my daughter told me years ago. I knew what she meant. I ran from anything that scared me. When I couldn’t physically get away—I’d swallow some distance—pushing my fears down to the bottom of a wine bottle. I had other exit strategies as well, none of them healthy. All of that changed when I traded in my running shoes for faith in God. With God’s help, I turned towards the things that scared me and embraced them. By stepping into my fears, instead of stepping around them, I found compassion and forgiveness. I learned to love people who had hurt me and I learned to love myself. Most importantly, I learned how to love God.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, I encourage you to hold God’s hand and turn towards the things that scare you. Embrace them. Step into them. Be thankful for them, for they hold great gifts. You may not be able to see the gifts now, but they are there. God will reveal them to you.
Of course, I am grateful for my many blessings: my family, my friends, my Soul Reminders readers, and my benzo buddies—but I am most grateful for the lessons I’ve learned from facing the things that scare me. That is where God showed me how immense He is. That is where He introduced me to my true self, the person He created me to be.
“The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you…”
The sun waved farewell to the day and dipped below the horizon. I buttoned my coat and walked to Main Street as the last of the day’s light faded into the cold dark. The corner restaurant was roasting chickens over an oak wood fire. The aroma made my mouth water. Down the street, people sat outside the cafe, huddled under the orange glow of electric heaters; steam rising from their coffee cups. The sound of laughter and happy voices filled the night. Farther down the street, storefronts twinkled with Christmas lights.
As I walked past the ice cream parlor, the clerk waved at me from behind the counter. The store was empty, too cold for a cone on a night like this. As I stood at the corner, deciding which way to turn, a man shoved his wheelchair into the crosswalk. Car lights illuminated his disability; his legs amputated below his knees. When he got to my side of the street, he looked up at me and smiled so brightly that I couldn’t help but smile back. His eyes danced with a sweet sparkle. “Wonderful evening,” he said as he tipped his hat at me.
I stood and watched him propel himself down the sidewalk until he was out of sight. I’m not sure why, but I turned back and retraced my steps. The bell on the door of the ice cream parlor jingled as I pushed open the door. The clerk’s face lit up, happy to see a customer.
I enjoyed my ice cream as I walked home, all the while pondering the man’s smile. It felt oddly familiar. Did I know him? I wondered. Of course not. I had never seen him before. When I arrived home I turned the key in the door. I stepped into the dark and snapped on the light. The brightness chased away my confusion. Suddenly I knew why the man’s smile was so familiar! God had smiled at me through him! I pressed the memory of his smile to my heart, all the while marveling at God’s goodness. It is a wonderful night! I thought.