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True confession time.  Yesterday when Ruth wrote about the friend with the ruffled feathers, that was me.

I still feel bad that Ruth worried so much about upsetting me.  And really it wasn’t so much what she said.  It was the fact that when she said it, I was one great big raw nerve.

You may not have noticed, but 2020 has been a bit much.  No, really!  It has.  And this past week has been nightmarish.  Due to events in my family, I managed to attract the attention of a troll.  Oh, you’ve never had to deal with one?  Imagine something loud and hate-filled that comes boiling out from under a bridge looking for someone to bash.

Fortunately, I’ve got loved ones who are willing to support me when a troll does its worst.  Yes, Miss Ruth took a wrong step but I knew all along that she loves me, as does Lori.  We may not be blood kin but we are sisters of the soul with laugh lines and prayer calluses from our time together.

And I knew that.  That’s why when she said sorry I knew she meant it.  She was sorry.

She didn’t say that she was sorry I had misunderstood her obvious intent.  Or that she was sorry I was thin-skinned.  She wasn’t sorry that I was irrational or too sensitive.  She was sorry.

See I’m lucky.  I’ve got these two ladies in my life.  And I have another friend who is a life coach and one of the things that she helped me understand is that when I have that “Hey now” reaction, I need to think about who I’m reacting to.  Is this someone who loves me and wants what is best for me?

If I can say, yes, then I shouldn’t, as Miss Ruth says, make a problem my personal piñata.  It is time to talk things out, even if all I can say is “I get it but I’m raw right now and need to step back.”  My girls will have my back and they will bit by bit pull me back into God’s loving presence.

If, on the other hand, this person is a troll?  Then it is okay to say “Hey, now.  I’m not wallowing around in the muck.  Me? I’m heading back into the light with my sisters.”

And I’ll be thanking God yet again that they are part of my life.

–SueBE

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says '"Every tomorrow has two handles; we can take hold by the handle of anxiety or by the handle of faith." ~Henry Ward Beecher Inaugurate Light'In “The Last Straw,”  Lori encouraged us all to look for small blessings.   Ruth added her plea that “In These Times” we can avoid taking our anxieties out on each other.  I don’t know if the woman I encountered this week had read their posts, but she was definitely an angel in my troubled week.

In addition to the onslaught that is 2020, the day I went to the library was just a comedy of errors.  If there was something hard, I banged my elbow on it.  Getting my books off the hold shelf, I knocked a sign to the floor.  Picking it up meant putting down a stack of 15 picture books, graphic novels, novels and a movie.  Everything I had requested for three weeks showed up at one time.

Scanning all of this out through the single self-check out station was not a rapid process.  Then I realized there was someone behind me in line.  Normally there are 5 places to check out but not right now, and she only had only one thing in her hand.

I apologized and she graciously told me it was no problem.  “I’m not in a hurry.  Don’t worry about me.”

Still I felt guilty as I juggled to get it all in the car without dropping anything.  Then I realized the same woman was parked next to me. She stood patiently in her mask, social distancing.

“I am so sorry.  You’re stuck waiting for me again!”

“It isn’t a problem.  We are all in this together.”  I met her eyes and she held my gaze.  “Really.  It is okay.”

I got in the car and sat there a moment replaying her words.  It is okay.  We are all in this together.  After this encounter, my day improved considerably.

At this point, I go almost nowhere, but I am looking for my opportunity.  Someone out there needs to hear a kind word.  They could use a glimmer of His light and love.

–SueBE

I love this quote.  Love it.

For me it serves as a reminder that too much of any good trait can become a bad trait.  I am direct.  Often painfully so.  I suspect that it comes from growing up around women who took forever to get to the point.  What do you want me to do?  Just tell me!

As a result of dodging the passive aggressive card, I often “cut to the chase.”  I have been told that I am occasionally intimidating.  Somewhere there has to be middle ground but I have yet to find it.

I suspect that the answer lies in love.  See those around me as God’s children just like me.  See his spark lighting them from within.  Remember that they may not be doing it my way, but that’s okay.  No one said my way was the only way.  It is simply another way to do it.

Hmm.  That might work.  “Here’s another way we could do it…”  “Here’s something I think we should try…”

–SueBE

Yesterday, I watched a really interesting Ted Talk with Ozlem Cekic.  Cekic is the first Muslim woman to win a seat on the Danish Parliament. After a comment from a friend, she quit ignoring the racist e-mails she received.  She looked through them, having saved them in case something happened to her, and contacted the person who had written her the most often.  “Let’s get together for coffee.”

She intended to let him get to know her.  Her idea was that he wouldn’t hate her once he knew her.

And she was right but she received a surprise as well.  He was funny.  He was friendly.  He had a nice home.  He and his wife had the same coffee service her parents had.  She liked him.  He wasn’t anything like she expected.  In addition to broadening his limited beliefs, she got to broaden her own as well.

Today I find myself looking around and wondering.  How are my own beliefs about the people around  me limiting what I see?  How am I missing out on seeing that spark of God’s light simply because what I expect to see is something else?

–SueBE

We’ve all met them.  They are the people who leave you walking a little lighter with a smile on your face.

One woman asks about my dad every time I see her.  She was in the same care facility but only temporarily while she underwent rehab.

A teen at our church changes her hair color on a regular basis.  She’s never content with one color but combines them and greets me every week with a hug.

Human contact.  We all need it and it can really change your day.  I make a point of talking to the checker in the grocery story and the man who picks up the gymnastic mats after yoga.  It is amazing to see the light come into their faces because someone has seen an acknowledged them.

But I’m not spreading just any light.  I’m spreading His Light and Love and Joy.  It is my little way of helping the people I encounter have a bit of hope in their hearts.

–SueBE

Yesterday we had a new experience at our church.  We worked with a number of other local congregations to care for local homeless.  We helped something like 200 people.  They got a hot meal and clean clothing.  Children got shoes, a stuffed animal and a book.  Pastor Sean and I painted faces.  There was a band and a lady doing balloon animals.  Two hundred people got to come in out of the 90+ degree heat for the day.

What impressed me most was that for the most part these people were just people.  The kids and I discussed super heroes, favorite classes, and teachers that are too strict.

With the adults, I discussed the age-old St. Louis question – where did you go to school?  I hedged my bets a little and pointed out that my mom graduated from Beaumont.  She and her parents went to Cote Brilliant Presbyterian Church.  A school and a church deep in the city.

Little boys teased me about my favorite comic book character (Loki) and the little girls talked me into letting them help paint.

Yes, I saw signs of problems deeper than homelessness.  A few people clearly had substance abuse problems and/or mental illness.  But for the most part? They were just people.  And their kind words thanking me for taking time with their children lit my heart.

We are all connected with the lamplight that shines from the love of God.  Definitely something we should remember.

–SueBE

Today, I’d like to challenge each and every one of you.  Call out the beauty that you see.  

Yes, we need to see what is wrong in this world before we can change it.  But if we dwell on the negative?  If we focus on the hate?  We lose hope.

And we lose more than hope.  We lose Light.  Not that Christ turns from us, and maybe this isn’t even true for everyone, but me?  I lose sight of the Light. I lose that feeling of warmth and His Love.

As with so many things, you need to maintain a balance.  Yes, you need to be aware of what is imperfect and flawed and needs to change.  But you also need to hold onto what is right and good.

With that in mind?  These two ladies I work with here?  Lori and Ruth, thank you for holding up the Light for all of us to see.

–SueBE

 

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