This week between Christmas and the new year always leaves me a little bit unsettled and anxious. I celebrate the birth of Jesus, the baby in a manger who will somehow save us all. I reflect on the year that is just about gone ~ what did I accomplish, where did I fall short, and what is left undone. And I look forward to a new year, a time for new beginnings, and I ask, "Lord, what will you have me do*?" Goals and resolutions and vision and planning anyone? I'm raising my hand here, just in case you can't see. But what about right now, today, this moment? It feels a little in-between. Between what has been and what is to come. It feels a little like holding my breath.
I wonder about Mary, in those in-between moments after Jesus' birth and before the world knew who he was. Did she feel anxiety about her little boy and what would come for him? I'm sure she did. Yet, in her faith and grace, she did this very difficult thing. She carried him as a baby and she cared for him and loved him. In the good moments, the not so good moments, and the in-between moments.
Looking at the past can bring insight, clarity, and self-knowledge. Looking to the future can bring hope and inspiration. But I cannot forget the in-between moments. Because those moments are the foundation of our lives. It is here; it is now; it is present to us. The in-between moments are the only ones we have to live.
So today, reflect on the past, hope in the future, and
live, really live in-between.
May we find faith and grace like Mary to say "Yes, Lord."
*taken from For His Sake, a prayer of The Order of the Daughters of the King
Saturday, December 8, 2018
Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them.I read this prayer every morning, and for the last month or so this line has jumped out at me and taken root in my soul. Making me pay attention even when I really didn't want to. I was focused on the not "minding little stings," more than the "giving them." Trying not to listen to little stings aimed at me; to forgive when I felt them. I didn't really think about my giving them. Because I'm a nice person right? I try not to do or say those little stings that could hurt someone. This surely didn't mean me. But then something happened to make me look at this a little differently.
-From For Today prayer by Phillips Brooks, taken from Forward Day by Day
I was driving along, minding my own business, when the car in front of me suddenly slowed and turned right, causing me to hit my brakes rather hard and yell out, "Well, I guess that fancy, expensive BMW didn't come with turn signals." Rather benign, and they couldn't even hear me. So that's OK, right? I didn't give them a little sting. Agreed? And I'll admit here, between you and me... this wasn't the first time I've yelled this (or other snarky remarks) in my car. Or the first time I've muttered less than good things under my breath.
But this line kept coming into my head and I had a big realization. Yes, this is about giving little stings to others, in ways that cause them hurt. AND it is about the hurt and damage done to ourselves when we think them (or yell them inside our car). It is about the little stings we think about ourselves to ourselves.
It isn't just in the aloudness that hurt is done to others or to us. It is how we disrespect ourselves when we let that little sting into our hearts at all. It's how that seed of darkness and negativity takes root and then can run away with us - much more than we realize. Little stings can, well, sting. Little stings can grow big. Whether directed at others or at ourselves; by others or ourselves.
I pray, Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them. Yet, I am only human and in my humanity I will, in all likelihood, sling that little sting again. Being mindful is the first step in changing my heart. Repenting and asking for forgiveness is essential. Becoming the person God intends me to be means paying attention to my thoughts, as well as my words and actions - no matter which direction they are aimed.
So, to God, and the driver of the BMW, I ask for your Grace.