“Be still, and know that I am God.”
Here, where the morning has not yet revealed herself fully, I sit in the coolness and watch the light spread across the garden. In this tender moment of daybreak, I lean into God, nestling my head onto His shoulder, seeking His comfort.
“Thank you for this morning,” I whisper.
God brushes a tendril of hair from my face and whispers, “You are welcome.”
I want to say more, to pour out of my heart all that has been troubling me, but something about the softness of the morning stops me. Instead, I sit in silence and rest against God.
The sun makes her slow climb up beyond the horizon, and I rise and make my way into the start of my morning, carrying with me the warmth and strength of God’s strong shoulder.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
My dog Shakespeare balked at jumping into the back seat of the car. I thought it odd, as he is usually excited to go places. Eventually, I convinced him to get in. Once we ran our errands and got home, he balked at walking up the stairs. Quickly, I connected the dots. He had hurt his back and was in pain. It’s happened before. I gently picked him up and carried him inside and put him in his dog bed.
I had major back surgery when I was 21. Most of my back is fused together. I can empathize with sweet Shakespeare’s pain, because years ago, I had pain too. It is easy to recognize someone’s pain if we’ve experienced something similar, but not so easy if we haven’t.
I’m learning to ask others, “What does that feel like?” when they tell me things I haven’t experienced, and I don’t have a reference point. We don’t have to fully understand someone’s pain to be helpful. All we have to do is to listen and to give someone our time and attention. Lending someone our ears, and our arms for a comforting hug is often the best medicine on the planet. In Shakespeare’s case, it’s a trip to the vet, rest, and lot’s of my attention—and some dog treats!
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
I leaned over in the garden and picked up the broken pieces. They were scattered all around me. When I finally gathered all of the pieces in one place, I stared at them. How was I going to put them back together again? Like Humpty Dumpty, they looked beyond repair. The terra cotta pot I had dropped had broken into a million little pieces. Just like my heart, I thought to myself.
“God, I’ve been here before,” I prayed. “I’ve known heartbreak many times. Each time, I think I won’t survive it—that there is no way I’ll put the pieces back together again.”
“I know, Sparrow,” God said as He put His hand on my shoulder to comfort me. “I know.”
I didn’t fight the tears that fell as I walked the broken pot to the garbage can. When I lifted the lid, I wished I could throw my heart away, too, so that it would never hurt again.
“Your heart will go on,” God assured me.
I giggled in spite of my tears. “You’ve been watching Titanic again, haven’t you?” I smiled and wiped my nose on my sleeve.
I’m pretty sure God smiled back. “Why don’t you talk to your heart?” He asked me.
“Okay, I’ll do that. ‘Heart, what’s all this breaking into pieces stuff about?'”
I swear, my heart answered me and said, “I have to break in order to open.” I was stunned!
God patted me on my head like I was a little child. “See?” He said. “Your heart is smarter than you think. And stronger than you know.”
I walked back to the garden and sat down and pondered the wisdom of my heart. It has to break in order to open. In that instant, I could hear the birds singing on the wire above me. I felt the sun with her soft winter’s touch. I heard the leaves of the magnolia tree rustling on the breeze. And I knew. Yes, I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that my heart would go on.
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? ”
It hurts when people share their negative opinion of us behind our backs. It hurts when they are brave enough to share it with us face to face. Even unasked for advice can put us on the defensive and make us feel that we aren’t good enough. What can you do to safeguard your heart from other’s opinions? You remember that you are on this Earth to serve God, not man. You aren’t here to seek the approval of others. You are here to live out your life according to the purpose and plan that God has for you.
There are always going to be naysayers—people who don’t like the way you think, act or feel. There will always be someone who holds an opposite viewpoint of your own. You will never make everyone happy with your decisions, beliefs, feelings, or actions, so make yourself happy. Make God happy! Frankly, what other people think of you is none of your business! You can’t control what other’s think of you. You can only control you! Besides, God’s opinion of you is all that matters. You have permission to be the you God created you to be.
“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”
~1 Corinthians 14:33
I sat down on the damp earth in the garden and watched three gray geese swim across the sky, their wings parting the air with graceful strokes. There was a determination in their flight as if they had made the decision to fly over my cottage a lifetime ago. I was mesmerized by their beauty. I closed my eyes and listened to their lonesome cries drift back to me: “Hur-lick!” “Hur-lick!” I felt God’s peace fill my soul until it momentarily brimmed, then overflowed.
I opened my eyes to see the geese— now small dots on the distant horizon—languidly heading to wherever it was that God had directed their flight. I stood up and brushed away the leaves and twigs that had stuck to my pants. With sure steps, I strode back out into my day, as if I had made the decision a lifetime ago. Perhaps I had.
“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.