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Instead, You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life. As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending, and I know true joy and contentment.

Psalm 16:11,“The Voice” Bible Version

Before becoming a Freelance Writer, I had many a “day-job.” Some of my best memories from office jobs I’ve had over the years were from times in the break room.

One day, I sat down next to Mike, a health food and fitness buff. He nodded to me and continued carefully unwrapping a clearly nutritious, but aesthetically unsettling, snack.

“Yikes,” I said, before I could filter the facts and muzzle my mouth. “I mean, uh, interesting-looking snack, Mike.”

“I know,” he said, waving a hand as if to say, it’s okay to speak the truth. “Carob chip soy cookie. No sugar. No fat. No wheat flour. All nutrients.”

It looked different from any cookie I’d ever seen before. Kind of grey and lumpy. A bit misshapen.

“Does it …taste… good?” I asked.

“Well,” he said, gnawing on the cookie and the question, “I think if you’ve never had a chocolate chip cookie in your life and… as you eat it, if you remind yourself that it’s good for you… then it’s okay.”

“Not exactly a ringing endorsement,” I said. He nodded and chewed away dutifully.

Another time, I ran into an old work colleague I hadn’t seen in a while and she seemed glum. Back in our break room days, she was witty, warm and so full of life. Then she agreed to an arranged marriage that was beneficial to both her family and her husband’s. I asked how married life was treating her.

“Well, I guess all things considered….if I really think about it… if I had to say one way or the other, it’s … better than being single. I suppose. Yeah.”

If you don’t know that life is supposed to be good, you might accept a less-than life, thinking that’s your only option. Let me break it down like this. If you have to convince yourself that something works for you, here’s a newsflash: it doesn’t.

Being a believer isn’t supposed to be about rules and regulations. Toeing the line so you don’t anger God. Faith is a heart condition. And you are the only one of your kind.

Break the chain of “it’s always been done this way,” or “this is what everyone else wants me to do.” This is your life, and it’s a gift. Don’t put it on the shelf and let it gather dust. Break it open. You never know what a bountiful blessing it might be until you take it into your own two hands and let ‘er rip.

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sourceSunlight fell upon the wall; the wall received a borrowed splendor. Why set your heart on a piece of earth, O simple one? Seek out the source which shines forever.

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

There’s nothing I appreciate more than a Pointless Pun. Here’s an example:

I like my poets like I like my pants.

Rumi.

Now, your response is probably, “Get the hook! Get off the stage! You stink!”

Yep, you’re right. It’s terrible! But when it comes to Rumi, the renowned Persian philosopher, I have a rather quirky theory. I know he was, well, a Very Deep Cat, but looking at some of his writings, I’m thinking people just starting recording everything he said. Maybe sometimes, he was just chatting, like we all do.

I imagine this quote came during dinner, when some protégé got overzealous, jotting down every word Rumi said and calling it an important nugget of truth:

“Either give me more wine or leave me alone.”

Because, really, even Great Poets get thirsty. Probably from saying all those lovely words and Being Deep.

Then they arrived at the bar for more libations after dinner, and his friend was hung-over from the previous night’s excesses:

“I know you’re tired, but come, this is the way.”

At some point, his gossipy friend got a bit too TMZ on The Man of Many Words, so Rumi said:

“Listen! Clam up your mouth and be silent like an oyster shell, for that tongue of yours is the enemy of the soul, my friend.”

And then, Rumi had a bit too much wine and said this:

“I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way. Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.”

Because there was no such thing as Uber back in those days and his Honda Accord was in the shop.

Just to be clear, kind people. I don’t mean to be disrespectful of Rumi at all – he really was an incredibly gifted poet. So much of what he said centuries ago still resonates beautifully today.

My point (though it’s a stretch, I’ll grant you that! But then, heck, so are my yoga pants) is that sometimes, a sign on the highway is just that. Not everything in life is a metaphor, and you don’t have to change course based on tea leaves or fortune cookies. Your truth is already inside you. If you think you’re going in the right direction, keep going. Nobody needs to tell you what you know in your bones.

And while you’re walking your own path, it’s okay to be adventurous and dream big. The worst that can happen is that you’ll have a great story to tell your grandchildren someday. There’s no point in putting limits on yourself, and certainly not on God.

Even Rumi – the Man Himself – agrees with me on this count:

“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”

Now that, dear friends, is some really deep wisdom.

Walking through the mall, I saw a woman in the juniors’ department dressed to be noticed – stylish belt slung low on the hip.  Cleavage busting out all over.  Hair teased beyond the point of no return.  Bright blue eye shadow.  Spidery black eyelashes.  Stiletto boots with pointy toes.

Normally I wouldn’t even notice this type of thing, but in this case, I did a double take.  You see, the woman was probably about 70 years old.

At first I thought I was exempted from “judgeyness” because I was just worried that some gaggle of teenagers might make fun of her.

But what if they did?  First off, I judged the teenagers.  As if judgment was only the domain of teenagers.  But I just judged them.

”Help her be true to herself,” I prayed, thinking I was expressing some kind of Christian concern.

But what if she was being true to herself?

Here I was worried that she’d be mocked and it would hurt her, yet my pity was more corrosive.  At least if someone has an opinion of her, she’s not invisible, as I expected her to be at 70.  I passed by dozens of other older people in the mall.  And I do not remember a one of them.  But I remember her.

What did I expect of her at 70?  That she dress “age-appropriately?”

Orthopedic  shoes, support hose and a shawl?  How about a walker too for full effect?

All that said, I went to the mall in sweats and sneakers, my hair stuffed hastily into a pony tail:  in a word, grungy.  Only God knows how many people passed me in the mall and prayed the same prayer for me!

At the end of the day, there’s no dress code for kindness.  Everybody’s doing what they think is best, so live and let live.  Lori’s beautiful post this week is about holiness, and it made me realize how easy it is to lapse into “holier-than-thou-ness.”  God doesn’t give you the up-down before He blesses your life.  He looks at the heart and character.  Not the haute couture.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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