I unwrap my brand spankin’ new 2021 calendar, the old timey kind made of card stock that you hang up somewhere like it’s the 1900s. I love new calendars, and I love fresh starts. But this year, I’m disheartened to find several of the same old disturbing problems following me into 2021. Certainly, I find this to be true in my personal life, concerning situations that affect me and my immediate family only. And even with a more wide angle view, I find this to be true on a broader national landscape too, concerning issues that follow and trouble many of us.
The calendar pages display definitive ends to seasons, but real life does not.
Looking out my office’s picture window, I take notice of the snow that’s hanging around in spite of the fact that our last snowstorm was a few weeks ago. One interesting thing about living in Colorado Springs is that while it frequently snows over the course of our fourteen months of winter (haha), it melts quickly. With over three hundred days of sunshine a year, it doesn’t stick around. But this latest snow has stuck around, encouraged to do so by cold temperatures the sun can’t overcome.
In life, too, it can feel like the warmth can’t overcome the cold.
Winter will do what winter does: bring chilly temps and snow. It’s best not to fight the facts on the weather — or our own troubles. While we can always count on God making all things new and hope getting the last word, we aren’t guaranteed right-here-right-now expiration dates on our troubles. We aren’t even guaranteed they will come to an end while we trod along on this broken and beautiful planet.
So, I make a cup of hot sweet and spicy orange tea. I pull out the red and black buffalo check flannel socks and stretch them over my size 11 feet. Even if I don’t particularly relish the season I’m in, I can still do what I can to restore a mindset for the good things it brings.
Chief of these is to get my hind-end in the Word of God each day, because in the words of Ann Voskamp, “God’s Word to you is never a passing word or line — God’s Word is your very lifeline. In tumultuous times, there is only one voice that can calm seas. When the sun rises in the window every morning, it comes on fire with a message to say, The One who is the Word wants to have a word with you.”
I read the Word to communicate with God and to know what He wants to communicate with me. And I read it to best know how to communicate with others too.
I have a choice each and every day: I can demonstrate the light and warmth of Christ to others or I can douse it.
In general, when it comes to processing things, I’m a crockpot set on low. It takes time for me to know how to say what I think about something. But there are those topics and viewpoints that can provoke me to quickly provide a knee-jerk response. And every time I do so, almost without fail, I regret what I say or write. I regret the way I’ve communicated it.
However, every time I’ve taken a beat (or a day or a weekend) to think about what I want to communicate, I’ve never regretted it. Pausing before posting doesn’t lessen the validity of my viewpoint or the courage of my conviction. But it lessens any biting tone or defensiveness I might bring to the conversation.
In general, I want to be one who engages with thoughtfulness rather than defensiveness. I want to reflect Christ by dealing with and not deflecting from the matter at hand.
So, the next time I read something and think, “Hmmm, I don’t really agree with that!” I will remember I have a choice in how I respond. Will I bring a spirit of dignity or divisiveness to the conversation? This doesn’t mean I pretend to agree with someone whose opinion is different from mine. No, I can bring dignity to the conversation and still disagree with what is said. However, I want to do this from a place where the Holy Spirit leads me to respond rather than Kristen reacting with her Big Important Opinion. When I refuse to slam out an immediate response, my words are more likely to reflect dignity over defensiveness.
It’s late afternoon now, and golden shafts of sunlight brighten up the snowy landscape. While I may not be able to control one whit of what’s going on outside my window, I can control how I respond to it.
Through word and action, I can choose to be the way someone else experiences the warmth of Christ. And in one small way, I contribute to a more hopeful season, no matter the calendar date.Leave a Comment