Welcome to 31 Days of Hope
Scroll down to read Day 1::
To read the other posts, I’ll be adding a link to each day once it goes live.
Day 1: You are here.
Day 2: Our Words Matter
Day 4: For Your Sabbath
Day 8: Trials as Friends?
Day 9: A Look Back…
Day 10: It Is Well
Day 11: For Your Sabbath
Day 16: Taking off the Sunglasses
Day 18: For Your Sabbath
Day 19: The Beauty of the Yet
Day 21: The Gift of Remembering
Day 22: The Hope of the Hero Returning
Day 25: See Day 27 (oops)
Day 26: Let’s Make Benches
Day 27: For your Sabbath (or Tuesday)
Day 29: Counting Small Moments
Day 30: From Lament to Hope
Because Sometimes the Easy Thing isn’t Always the Right Thing
She was standing alone in the Wal-Mart aisle, leaning over her cart and pondering the top of the shelf in front of her. Actually, not pondering. ‘Harumphing at’ is more like it. I could hear her sighs of frustration from where I was standing a few feet away deciding between a 2-liter of Sprite or Coke. The people on the next aisle over could probably hear her too, she was harumphing so loudly. Whatever her frustration (I think it had something to do with the fact that whatever she needed was too high on the shelf for her to reach), she wanted to make sure that everyone in the near vicinity knew that she. was. not. pleased.
And truthfully? I was not pleased with her audible display of frustration. It was annoying. It was Wal-Mart on a Saturday, for the love, and I was there on a mission. Get what I needed and get out as soon as ever-lovin’ possible. She was distracting…and annoying…and blocking me from my mission. And I didn’t want to get involved. Honestly, in part because I’ve known people in the past who use their visible frustration to manipulate others into doing what they want. I used to be one of the ones who let myself get manipulated. But somewhere along the line, I decided NO MORE. I will not allow myself to be manipulated. In fact, the more you ‘harumph,’ the more I will ignore you. So there. And slowly, slowly, my determination to not enable the manipulators became all about me, my rights, and not stepping out of my comfort zone. See all the ‘ME’s’ there?
So back to that Saturday’s Wal-Mart excursion. The more I scanned the aisle for my desired beverage, the more she kept sighing and muttering “Why the hell did they have to put it up so high. How do they expect anyone to get it?” (See, she’s swearing. All the more reason for me to not. get. involved.) I grabbed my Coke and scooted out of the aisle just as I heard her calling out to a passing employee, “Excuse me!” Whew. Made it out safely. Let the poor employee deal with it…that’s what they get paid for right? At least I didn’t get involved with an ‘Annoying Person.’
As I drove away, I felt that familiar little nudge of the Holy Spirit…. “But what if you had gotten involved? What if you had something to give away that she needed at that moment? What if she needed Me, the Me-in-you that only you can give away? What if she was having a bad day, week, month, and you could have given her a smile, hope, and a helping hand? You say you want to hear me, to find me. What if I’m found outside of your comfort zone, even in (gasp!) the lives of Annoying People?”
Gulp. Suddenly I wasn’t so proud of myself, or my ridiculous attempt at self-preservation.
Unfortunately, I can be really good at searching for hope, clinging to Hope within my little safe comfort-zone box. But when it comes to stepping out and sharing that Hope with someone else? Especially (God forbid) an Annoying-Someone-Else? Yeah, not so good then.
My brother-in-law likes to say that we all have our group of unloveables; his just happens to be the ‘religious, churchy’ people. (To be clear, my brother-in-law loves Jesus, is part of a local fellowship, and isn’t shy about sharing what he believes. He just doesn’t have much stomach for those who speak the religious lingo but lack the heart of Christ.) Truthfully, I’m a lot like that. Although I’m learning that along with the religious, my ‘unloveables’ also include Brother and Sister Annoying. And in my mind, I think I’m justified for withholding grace or hope or a smile or whatever is needed….well, because they’re annoying.
But here’s the thing. Two things actually. 1.// We ALL need hope. God knows we need Hope. In this world where just reading the headlines will make you want to spiral into a despressive episode, we’ve GOTTA have hope. 2.// Lord knows I can be annoying (and religious) at times. I crack my knuckles during the middle of church and then sit there wondering what Sister So-and-So was thinking when she made that Facebook post earlier this week. HELLO. Takes one to know one, pot calling the kettle black and all those other applicable cliches.
God loves my knuckle-cracking, Facebook-judging self, just the way I am. He holds out His unfathomable grace and hope to me like the treat of an ice cream cone held out to a child who has just thrown a bratty fit. And all he asks of me? “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matt. 10:8)
If I could do it over again, I would go back to that Wal-Mart aisle and offer a smile and an extended helping hand for whatever it was she was trying to reach. I would offer a little hope and grace, just as I have so freely been given.
Join me here over this next month as we explore and savor Hope? It’s my feeble attempt to share what I’ve so freely been given. I’m looking forward to it.