One of the habits we have fallen into since bringing Townes home from the hospital is evening walks. It started as a way to get out of the house, to pass time at the end of the day…and maybe also to support our local food/beverage scene due to COVID in the Spring but now it’s just part of our daily routine.
Townes seems to love it and even this week we turned his stroller seat around to face out (and not towards us anymore) because he looks around with such anticipation and awe (and yes, a tear was shed…he is growing up before my very eyes!)
Every day on our route, we pass a house where we greet what appear to be a mother (probably early 80s) and a son (guessing late 40s). We say hello and vice versa and on our way we go. This weekend when we passed what I assume is the son asked if we wanted to buy any snickers bars because his daughter was selling them for a school fundraiser.
“Of course but can we catch you tomorrow and we will bring cash?”
Needless to say, we forgot cash! NOOOOOO….(hand to face emoji)
On Tuesday, I happened to pass him walking down our street as I was on my way to drop off a birthday gift. It took me a minute to recognize him because he was out of context for me, but I quickly turned around and inquired, “Am I supposed to buy snickers from you?”
“Yes! I have 3 left.”
“Great, I will be by tomorrow. Put my name on those.”
When we showed up at his door the next day and waved, he looked up in surprise – like he hasn’t seen us almost every day for the last 6 months, and when I smiled and said “we are here to buy those snickers. Do you still have them?”
His face turned to disbelief, “I can’t believe you came.”
This short but clear and concise statement saddened me. Not because he thought I wouldn’t come, or he thought I wasn’t a woman of my word.
It saddened me because I realized it’s our experiences that define our outlook and perspective on things. Its disappointments or failed relationships that essentially make us believe it will happen again. It’s broken promises that equate to our dreams being dashed. And if the only perspective and news we hear is negative with continual reports on the evil of humanity does it cause us to forget the kindness of our neighbor or the stranger we passed in the grocery store?
I do not know this man’s story, nor do I know what he’s experienced in his life, but clearly the simple action of us showing up for him to buy Snickers bars to support his daughter was a surprise to him…one he didn’t expect, even though we said we would return. Rather he expected us to not show up –somehow and sadly has he been conditioned to unfilled promises?
Studies have proven that we, as people, have a tendency to remember negative experiences which create negative emotions like fear and sadness more than positive ones. Science illustrates that these emotions increase brain activity more than happier ones.
Is this why someone can go out of their way for us, can show us immense love time and time again but yet, we somehow, only remember the one mistake they made? Or the one promise they failed to keep? Or they way in which we feel they let us down, disappointed us.
Then I started thinking (always a bad thing), when I put my own expectations and my own wants of what I think the Lord should give me, and in turn, feel that these prayers went unanswered is that where the mistrust starts? The unbelief? Because I feel that he let me down?
What starts with a definition I created, ends with me believing a mistruth about who he is?
If I only see where I’ve been let down, do I start to limit what he can and wants to do or perhaps what he is already doing on my behalf?
It’s simple and small but do you see it in my statements above? The focus that is so easy to do – ME and I over and over again. What we really need more of is HIM.
But the question becomes, How?
By reading the Word. When we immerse ourselves in the Living Word, we come to know the Lord and his son, Jesus for who they are (present tense).
Joshua 1:8 puts it this way, “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall mediate therein day and night, that you my observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.”
This means prosperous and good success in our relationships, in our careers, in our parenting, in our volunteer work, in our churches, with strangers…
The Word of God teaches us about who he IS. Here are only a few and not limited to the verses listed below.
He is Love (1 John 4:7-21)
He is Hope (Matthew 12:21)
He is Truth (John 14:6)
He is Grace (Ephesians 2:8)
He is Holy (1 Peter 1:16)
He is Sovereign (2nd Samuel 7:22)
His is a Friend (John 15:13-14; James 2:23)
He is Compassion & Empathy (John 11:35; Hebrews 4:15)
He is Faithful (1 Thessalonians5:24)
He is Wisdom (Proverbs 2:6)
He is Forgiving (Daniel 9:9)
We need to focus on these things in the world today where the background noise gets louder and louder.
Just over this last week, I learned that my friend’s mom suffered a stroke while in the ICU fighting COVID (she is still fighting), another friend suffered a miscarriage while another one laid to rest their 24-week-old baby girl after the doctors could no longer find a heartbeat.
But in all this grief, I witness love. While we couldn’t surround our friends with hugs over 20 cars filled with people and flowers filed in a line for a Memorial to their house. This is LOVE.
There is Power in the Word of God and there is Power in Speaking It. This is why when I talk with my friend whose mom is in the hospital fighting to Live, we talk about when she comes home to her husband of over 50 years. We have to speak the truth of healing. This is HOPE.
We introduced Townes to a family tradition, cutting a Christmas Tree and we invited our friend who had suffered a miscarriage to join. This is FRIENDSHIP.
When I read, walk and stand on scripture, I can apply it, I can see how it manifests daily. I live with a grateful perspective. And I have found when I don’t, my focus turns inward towards myself and I start to believe what the world wants me to see….down a rabbit hole I can so easily go.
Today is Thanksgiving. Our Thanksgiving looks smaller than it has in years past. We did not get to host our annual Friendsgiving. My bible study girls did not get to come over for our small Friendsgiving dinner. I haven’t seen some of my friends in what seems like ages BUT there is still much to be thankful for.
My small group had a zoom call and we played family feud instead and it was a blast. We spoke of things we were thankful for, things we were looking forward too and things we were excited about. And you know what? Not one person hesitated or struggled with something to say.
I was blown away with some of the ladies who I have watched allow the Lord to do some work within them, some refining, creating more gold and more beauty this year. Something I have seen in them and knew could surface if only they received…this year created the opportunity and when the Lord knocked on their door, they said yes. And now the light in them shines so bright. Does that mean it was easy? No, it wasn’t.
But good things rarely are.
My best friends from college are having a virtual Christmas party with Secret Santa and we are beyond excited.
Don’t you see? “The Rona” can’t take it away. And while our adversary roams around seeking who to devour (1 Peter 5:8), we have the authority to say, “Nope, not Today.” We have a choice to be intentional with our relationships even if we have to adjust them.
We can still have community. We can still experience joy.
I sit here imaging that first Thanksgiving where the Colonists and the Natives gathered together to share a meal (it was actually a celebration over several days).
They were people from very different experiences and backgrounds. They were a people who didn’t look like each other. They were people who had not treated each other perfectly. They were people who at times didn’t like one another and had disagreements.
But they came together as ONE group of people to be Thankful for an abundant Harvest and express Thanks.
The Natives practiced this daily and they were teaching the Colonists – isn’t there something here for us to learn? The Natives knew a secret all those years ago that now the Self-Help industry has made billions of dollars telling us – Be Thankful. Show Gratitude.
And how much more powerful this concept when you pair it with the active and Living Word of God (Hebrews 4:12).
This doesn’t mean we always get it right – far from it. It doesn’t mean we are perfect, nor are we called and expected to be. It means we will start to live differently though.
So, I refuse to believe what the world wants me too – I refuse to focus on all the darkness surrounding me. I refuse to believe that disappointments mean I will always face disappointment. I refuse to believe that mankind is filled with hate and cruelty. (John 1:5)
I chose to believe that at the core of it all, Humanity is GOOD. We must believe this, and we must live this – we can be the change and we can be the voice. We must for our children, so they grow up to know that people are kind, and generous, and loving.
After all this must be true…we have an everlasting Father who made us in his image (Genesis 1:27) and “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good…) Genesis 1:31
So I want to challenge you as we head into this Holiday Season and quickly approach the end of a year no one anticipated, what are you thankful for and how can you be intentional in relationship with those around you?
Love and Thanksgiving –