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One of my favorite scriptures.  Although I find Proverbs difficult to sit down and read (where is the narrative arc?), there are so many words of wisdom in that particular book.



The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Let go, let God. Proverbs work for a reason: They’re brief, therefore easy to remember, and they pack a punch — a whole lot of comfort in just a few, spare words. They are there for us in an instant, stiffening our backbones, renewing our resolve, bolstering our energy. They are language-based healers, a verbal hug.

We need spiritual pick-me-ups. They are our cheerleaders, our home-court advantage. It is not surprising that the Bible is packed with them. Still, like art, they can be found anywhere: printed in books and magazines, posted on Facebook and Pinterest, scrawled on city walls. I say, take comfort wherever you find it. If it makes you happy, take it into your life. You never know when you might need it.

My favorite linguistic comfort food comes from the Bible, the words of Jesus to the thief on the cross: “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” Wouldn’t we all like to hear those words? What could be better? But I also glean consolation from reciting the first 20 or so lines from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, especially this one: “To Caunterbury with ful devout corage.” (In Middle English it sounds like this: “Full di-VOOT CO-raj.”) “Corage” in this case means “heart.” To have “ful devout corage” is to have a full and passionate heart. And isn’t that how we ought to travel through this world…whether we’re going on a pilgrimage to Canterbury, or just out for groceries?

I admire those people who seem to walk in peace. I am not one of them. Therefore proverbs hold a special place in my heart. As a writer, I love words, in all their myriad uses, but most especially those that bring comfort. I collect them the way other people collect rare stamps or interesting shells. They are money in my pocket, my spiritual reserve. And I’m always keen to add to my collection.

So tell me — what are your favorite spiritual words of comfort?

What if it were actually the law of the land that everyone had to be happy?  Sort of like the safety-belt “Click it or Ticket” rule.  Put on a smile or go on trial.  If you were in a miserable mood, you’d get locked up and sent to a piñata party till you got your happy back.  Holla!

I decided to look up the definition of happiness on Bible Gateway, and found there was no clear-cut answer. I did find out what happiness is not from the Sad Sack Scripture – the book of Lamentations.

I am deprived of peace.  I have forgotten what happiness is. Lamentations 3:17 NET

So peace of mind can lead to happiness.  And lack of it can lead to misery.

It might seem cliché, but I think the key to being happy is to keep your mind on positive, uplifting things.

Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life.  Proverbs 4:23 ERV

I’ll buy that.  But how do you get there when there’s so much going on in the world that can make us feel unsettled?

If you listen to Isaiah, it seems that happiness may be as simple as making a choice.

But be happy and rejoice forevermore over what I am about to create! For look, I am ready to create Jerusalem to be a source of joy, and her people to be a source of happiness.  Isaiah 65:18  NET

Be happy, God says.  I’m about to do something awesome.  You don’t have to carry the burden of what tomorrow may bring; that’s my department.

Happiness can also be contagious.

Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs him down, but an encouraging word brings him joy. Proverbs 12:25 NET

The habit of happiness – partnered with prayer – can see you through almost anything.  And it reminds you that it’s not always about whatever is standing in your way.  Sometimes, it’s about Who’s standing behind you.

Years ago, I worked in the communications department at a pharma company, and it was time for my performance review.  “You’re doing a great job,” my manager said. “You’re a quick learner, you’ve got great energy… overall, I have to say, I think you’re terrific.”

“So do I,” I said in return. I realized that it sounded like I was saying that I agreed; I AM terrific!

She laughed and said, “Self-esteem isn’t an issue for you either, I see!”

“Oh!  You know what I mean.  I think you’re terrific too.”  She said she knew what I meant and we went off to have lunch.

I suppose on the scale of self-esteem, it’s better to have too much of it, as opposed to not having enough.  But what is about the display of healthy self-esteem that sometimes makes us pause?

On Twitter, I was going to follow Reba McEntire but stopped short – on her own profile, she described herself as a “Country Superstar.” Capital letters and all.

Hmph!  I sniffed.  There’s one gal who really thinks highly of herself!  Miss Thing really toots her own horn there, doesn’t she?

The thing is, though…. when you think about it…. she actually is a country superstar.

Would I prefer the false modesty of someone with powerful pipes like that saying, “aw shucks, I can sing a little”?

A link on Twitter took me to an article quoting Beyonce on her recent performances.  “I felt very proud because this is my legacy,” she announced.

Well!  I never.  Maybe Princess would like a tiara with that “Halo?” The thing is… she did sing at the President’s inauguration, and then was the featured performer at the Superbowl, so I guess…even though it is a bit over-the-top for her to say it… maybe it is her legacy.

I like the way Tom Hanks describes himself on his Twitter profile:  “I’m that actor in some of the movies you liked and some you didn’t.  Sometimes I’m in pretty good shape, other times I’m not. Hey, you gotta  live, you know?”  He doesn’t mention his Oscar or his bazillion dollars.  He seems humble. That’s how a celebrity should be, I said to myself.

I finally got my head out of the Twitterverse and administered the only known cure for grumpy grumbling: a Bible verse.

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”  Proverbs 16:24

Lesson for today: be gracious toward everyone, and think of it as a good thing when people think highly of themselves.  Be glad that they’re blooming wherever they’re planted, and leave the pruning up to God.  Live and let live.  Love and let go.

She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.

When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.

One who has unreliable friends soon come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.
Proverbs 10:19 NIV

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 12:18 NIV

He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
Proverbs 17:9 NIV


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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