You remember that place you love to go eat that has the great food and lighting? Maybe it’s a fancy restaurant you only go to once a year on a special day. Or maybe you went only once, it was so special. Maybe it’s mom and dad’s or grandma’s home; there is good food passed around a huge table. Everyone is enjoying each other and the food is so comforting. Oddly, I have great memories of the Olive Garden. My oldest always said it in a quirky way when he was young. We had great times after soccer tournaments in other cities with kids that were our bonus kids; our extra brothers. And laughing until that snort/cry/laugh couldn’t be contained with my sister over salad and pasta there is one of my favorite things.
I want to be all these things personified. Warmth, glowing, joyful, a little salty/not that kind of salty, the kind of pure, subtle, seasoning that makes things better without being too over the top. Maybe not so much snort laughing, but still, laughter that draws people in close.
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”Matthew 5:13-16
And then life happens.
It’s so easy to be that person when things are going well. Jobs are good. Marriage is solid. Children behave like Mary Poppins just flew from the house. Or they aren’t sick.
And then bang. I become someone else.
How quickly I can go from sunny to cynic. Jennie Allen says in her book, Get Out of Your Head, “Cynicism is interpreting the world and God based on hurt you’ve experienced and the wounds that still lie gaping open. It forces you to look horizontally at people rather than vertically to God.”
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice … whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”Phillippians 4:4-8
I find that verse to be super easy when looking at beautiful sunsets. It is much more difficult to say “rejoice” when looking at a hospital room filled with beeping machines, an empty bedroom, a child during meltdown in the middle of Target, during a tense I.E.P. meeting. I lean towards cynic in the middle and for days, weeks months … years after. It becomes more like yelling at myself, “Rejoice. Rejoice, I said!”
“At the root of cynicism is crippling hurt.” – Jennie Allen, Get Out of Your Head
In the Bible where Jesus speaks about being salt and light there is a section right before this called The Beatitudes (Matthew 5). Jesus begins the entire sermon with, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Jesus knew before we could be salt and light to anyone we would be hurting. And maybe a little cynical about it all. He wanted us to know He would be there in it all to comfort us and all of heaven would be ours.
Being salt and light; warm and glowing; pure and radiant enough so that others may see God’s glory and give Him praise in the middle of our trials is not what I imagined when I was a child singing “Hide it under a bushel, NO! I’m gonna let it shine.” This little light of mine is all I’ve got some days. It may not be a beautiful sunset every single day. But, rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice. (I bet you’re singing that now, too.)