It was the honesty set deep behind those brown, kind eyes that drew me in. The quiet type, he spoke little until there was room--kindness and ease seeping into conversation. He wore every gust of wind and ray of sunlight on his skin, etched into curved and comfortable lines. He was a man who could just let another "be", never suggesting subtly the need to "perform" for acceptance. In fact, he seemed to be an example of the walking Word:
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18
We shared stories and laughed throughout the night. My family and he--we are experiencing two completely different lives. We are currently in a season of gratitude for pennies that were not there before, while our new friend has barely a penny to the name. Yet, grateful we sat, side-by-side. It mattered not a bit, our penny differences. We are human; humans formed meticulously by the same Creator and cherished regardless of our circumstance.
In Exodus chapter 30, Moses received instructions from God regarding offerings:
"When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the Lord a ransom for his life at the time he is counted...All those who cross over...are to give an offering to the Lord. The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the Lord to atone for your lives."
To atone is to pay for "the reparation for a wrong or injury; to make amends". God made it clear that every single person's life was equally important to Him, regardless of family name, fiscal flow, occupation, relationship status, or otherwise. A life is a precious life.
It seems so simple doesn't it? But in this season of giving, of celebration, and of friends and family, it is so easy to be sidetracked by our comparison to others. Envy or pity, judgement or loneliness make their attempts to invite themselves to the table. Unwelcome. They are sneaky in their stealing of our joy. They posture us, as brothers and sisters, in "we" and "they" places. We have no business sitting in "we and they" places where relationships come under attack.
"To love is to make of one's heart a swinging door", wrote Howard Thurman.
Let us LOVE this season and let it be a soul-offering. To love well requires a crumbling down of heart-walls; allowing others access to who we are...confident in our God-worth and overflowing in our service. Will we allow a loved one bare-boned access to our hearts? Will we have the courage to invite the absolute, spirit-ringing joy of Jesus into our days?
For those of us who may have difficult memories attached to the holidays, God knows. Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith is waiting to pen a new story....one of trust, and love, and one that will connect us to each other in meaningful and revitalizing ways. Maybe today is the day we give Him access to those recollections and allow Him to guide us into new chapters.
"Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
"Who, being loved, is poor?" ~Oscar Wilde~
"I expect to pass through this life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again. ~William Penn~
1. Do envy, pity, judgement, or loneliness ever knock on your door? How do you respond to them?
2. What has your experience been of Christmas? What are your traditions? Who do you spend time with?
3. How have you served another in past seasons? How might you this year?
4. When did you last connect well to somebody who was very different than you? What did it feel like?
Photo Credits: Milada Vigerova and Josh Felise of Unsplash
M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Earns Crossfit participation trophies. Disaster cook. Enthusiastic wife. #Boymom. Clutches her faith, not her pearls.