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This Post Contains Spoilers

To be a writer, you need skin thick enough to withstand the rejection of publishers, agents, potential clients – none of whom know you, but all of whom are making assumptions about you.

Comparing you to the best-selling authors they are truly seeking. Extrapolating – based on the length of your resumé – that you might be a tad long in the tooth – one might say – and perhaps aren’t current in terms of topical trends and social media.

But you also – simultaneously – need skin thin enough to feel life as it flows through you so you’ll have something to write about. To be sensitive and sentient. To be a risk-taker. An open-hearted soul-explorer.

The same paradox holds true for those of us who profess faith.

Sometimes I think my own ideology is somewhat – let’s say – idealized. I want to believe in the goodness of humanity. I want to believe that it will all make sense one day. But I believe that faith is a muscle, and it must be stretched – and that’s just what happens when we experience loss, feel doubt or go through hardships.

It seems sometimes that the hardest part isn’t the pain, but the struggle to stay human.

Spoiler alert: God’s still in charge.

I believe with all my hopeful heart that it will work out for you in the end.

People may try to pigeon-hole you, stereo-type you, or call you a “work-in-progress.”

They may passive-aggressively say they’ll “keep you in their prayers.”

But you know who you are. And you know whose you are. You won’t be constrained by hyphens. You can’t be contained by pain. You are God’s own. You’re not alone.

You write the story as you go – published by Providence and ghost-written by Grace.

Here’s to a hope-filled happy ending!

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Everywhere you turn, somebody is reminding you how many things there are to worry about. Even my favorite weather site this morning declared in bold font – “Breaking Now…  LATEST: Widespread Severe Threat!”

Doesn’t say what or where.  Just:  Worry!

As it turns out, the breaking news is that here in New Jersey, there’s a heat wave going on.  Shock!  Horror!  Will we find the tank tops in time?  Will our flip flops still function?  Are there enough ice pops in the freezer? Whatever will we do?!?

But things have always been like this, haven’t they?  Everybody’s got something to deal with that could cause a general sense of anxiety.

Take Jonah, for example. He’s the poor fellow from the Bible who was stuck in the belly of the whale for three nights. After Jonah prayed for mercy, God commanded the fish to vomit him back onto dry land.  Lovely!  I looked at the way it was phrased.  “God provided a large fish and it swallowed Jonah.”  Hmm.

Later on in the book of Jonah, we learn that God “provided a plant for shade,” then “provided a worm to eat the plant.”

Then He “provided a scorching east wind.”

I re-read that passage.  It doesn’t say, God smote Jonah by sending a vicious worm to ruin his ever-loving day and a raging wind to give him a wicked sunburn.

No, it said “provided.”  Not exactly a care package from home with brownies in it!

So could it be that the things we see in our lives as negative are really another way that God provides for us?

But what is it that we gain from horrible – in Jonah’s case, even epic – misfortune?

During difficult times, my faith has often deepened.  I’ve also learned that going through challenges reminds you that others are facing hard times too, and that if you can help somebody else, you should.  Others may be dealing with their own whales, worms and wind, and maybe you’re the conduit through which God has chosen to provide relief for them.

All the things you’ve been through may well be the training you need to step up when called and commissioned. And I can tell you from experience, it’s a gift that goes both ways to be a blessing to someone else.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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