In so many ways, life is a beautiful collage of blessings. God has blessed us immensely time and again, and often through the generosity and love of others.
As I write I am admiring a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my in-laws sent to us after the loss of Mitch’s sweet Granny. And I think of the wonderful meal of thai food and conversation a friend shared with me earlier this week. On Saturday another dear friend brought us over an abundant meal of delicious healthy food: roasted chicken, wild rice, fruit salad, healthy greens, and sweet potatoes. We talked and laughed and shared life and a new board game together.
There are also those who pressed in when we were having dark days or facing struggles. I can still remember one of our elders and dear friends in Phoenix bringing us a meal and an Easter Lilly when we lost our baby Cadence to a miscarriage over Easter weekend. He told us that not every Easter would feel this way. I think of his words every time I see an Easter Lily. And sure enough, the very next year Rebekah’s due date fell on Easter weekend–though she made us wait another 10 days.
Then there was the family who helped us with a huge, unexpected dental bill. And our neighbors and friends who surprised us with a Christmas present of a cooler full of quality meats. My sweet friend Sarabeth sent me a “First Trimester Survival Kit” that truly blessed both Rebekah and I when I was struggling through each day with fatigue and nausea.
Since I’ve grown out of my boy-crazy teenage years and affection for movies like The Notebook, I’ve had a paradigm shift when I think of Valentine’s Day. I no longer think of it as a solely romantic holiday. Rather, it now reminds me each year of love: the love God has poured out on us, the generous love of others, and the love we are called to share and extend to those in need.
Love doesn’t expand or grow when we bottle it up or keep it to ourselves. If anything, when we are stingy, it grows stale or fades away leaving us feeling emotionally bankrupt. But love has an infinite capacity to bless us and others when we extend outward–be that to our spouse, our children, our neighbors, or even a complete stranger. Our world is always in need of love, but especially right now in the midst of so much turmoil and fear in our country.
In our current world and political climate where there is so much division, anger, hatred, and fear, love is the balm that heals. We can set aside differences in recognition of common humanity. Because the truth is we all bear the image of God. God calls us to love our enemies and pray for them not slam them on Facebook or Twitter. Despite what some people may say, it doesn’t matter who you voted for this year or what party you align with. I never want to be defined by partisan beliefs–rather by my love and savior.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35
Every day we have a choice, an opportunity to love. But love doesn’t happen by passively sitting on the couch. It takes intentionality and action. So what is stopping you? Busyness? Stress? Distractions? Apathy?
Every day you can try something. Send an encouraging note or scripture, make a phone call to a family member you haven’t talked to in awhile, share a cup of coffee shared with a neighbor, deliver a meal to another family, surprise someone with pizza, a hug, a smile, a pleasant word or take time to compliment to a stranger.
I know I talk about small acts of kindness a lot. But I believe that small acts done with great love (Mother Teresa) have a bigger impact than we realize. Even on our children. They can participate with us, witness our example, or even be the beneficiaries. Maybe your teenager daughter would love to just go get a latte from Starbucks and sit down and talk. Or you could take your child with you to visit your elderly, shut-in neighbor. There are so many simple, every day ways to be a blessing.
How have you been blessed by others in your life?