Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How To Have Hope When Everything Around You Seems Dark....

They are showing Christmas movies on Hallmark Channel.

Gingerbread Latte’s are now available for your consumption.

And, I swear I heard Jingle Bells while in a store the other day. It can only mean one thing....

Christmas is officially upon us. 

I love Christmas, and odds are you do too. I love almost everything about Christmas, but one of my favorite things to enjoy every December is Christmas lights. The world just seems more at peace with Christmas lights strewn from pillar to post. Thousands of people load up cars and vans each year to just drive around and see the holiday lights.

You know what’s not beautiful? Christmas lights in the daytime. (see picture above) Horrible. Not impressive at all. Some things only make sense in the dark. Christmas lights at night are almost magical. They pierce the darkness and flood the faces of onlookers in blue, red, and golden hues. Their brilliance can be most appreciated in the absence of light. The darker the night, the more beautiful the lights.

That’s a pretty close reflection to real life. So many of us are dealing with dark things in our lives; depression, sickness, fractured relationship, stress at work. Most of the time it seems that there is more dark out there than light. As discouraging as it can be, however, we were made to shine into the darkness. Our hope, love, and forgiveness does it’s best work in places filled with hate, pessimism, and bitterness. I don’t think any of us are grateful for the difficult times that we have to endure, but it can bring a bit of peace to know that your light is all the more brilliant in those times. Don’t give up, even if it feels like your light isn't being noticed at all.  The light you bring could be the one thing that someone else desperately needs!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Being Defined By The Things You Hate (aka: How To Live A Miserable Life)

It’s election season, and we are snowed under with emails, mailers, tv and radio ads all trying to sway you to their candidate. Despite the avalanche of information, it’s getting harder and harder each year to get a clear picture of what each candidate stands for. It seems they are less interested in convincing to you to vote for them as they are in having you not vote for the other guy.  

As much as we hate to admit it, our politicians are often just a reflection of the population as a whole. As a culture, we love to hate things. "It didn’t come quickly enough in the mail", "the lines were too long", "the service was poor", and a thousand other things define our lives. We rabidly air our grievances on Facebook and Instagram. Our lives can quickly become defined by what we don’t like and by who we don’t want to be. This way of living is toxic and exhausting. In her prayer journal, Flannery O’Connor wrote, 

“I don’t want it to be fear that keeps me in church. I don’t want to be a coward, staying with You because I fear hell…I don’t want to fear to be out, I want to love to be in.”

So many times we live our lives running from things instead of running to things. The difference is very real. Running away from things I fear or dislike leads to a chaotic life with little or no direction. Conversely, running to something, the way O’Connor wants to run toward God, gives direction and purpose to life. Live your life moving forward with open eyes and an open heart, don’t live in reaction to everything around you. You were made to embrace great and beautiful things.

Quotation from A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor
Photo Courtesy of Death To Stock Photo