This Holiday season has been a time of warmth and wonderfulness for myself and my family. We are so blessed. So very, very blessed. In the most simple and most important ways.
But I do not believe that God shows His love through means– through comfort, money, objects, and material goods– through MORE. No I am not more loved than my sisters and brothers. So how do I find myself in such bounteous circumstances?
One of the answers to this question lies at the heart of the misconceived idea that if someone is more comfortable, more gifted in physical substance, more rich it means that they are better than the other humans around them. (This can be applied to talent, skill, and intelligence as well, but I find most often most looked at are our physical commodities.)
It also leads to the false conception that to be given MUCH in terms of physical substance– money, food, clothing, comfort– must mean that the particular human in question is more good.
That their more, their much must mean that they are not simply more superior to those around them in their accumulation of wealth, power, and stuff. Their bounty must mean that they are more right, more golden, more loved than their fellow men.
This simply cannot be true.
In fact, are there not good and wonderful humans who live without? Who struggle to find and provide these physical comforts for themselves and their families all the days of their lives. Because they are without, are they evil? Defective? Wrong? The underbelly? No.
Not in the least. The truth then, is that their lack of comfort, means, and MORE does not correlate to their goodness, rightness, or to God’s love for them in any way.
Just as someone with MORE is not more loved by God, the individual with material means may in fact be evil, defective, hateful, cruel, and all-around bad regardless of their physical comfort and station.
The other insidious fallacy centers around the idea that because someone finds themselves in abject circumstances they have somehow been more prepared or are more equipped to deal with hardship. The idea that being hungry, cold, heartsick, or just plain sick and homeless is easier for one individual than it is for another is a vicious untruth.
What has prepared them to be okay with going hungry, with lacking the means for proper medical care, with the literal cold that someone on the street faces without shelter? Nothing.
These trials, these hardships are not endured more easily by one than another. They are struggles that could cause any human to buckle, to bend under the too-heavy burden. And it is not our place to discuss the merits of attitude in dire situations such as these.
If you don’t believe that there are those in our country who really have lived and spent time on the streets without a home, without shelter, have a listen: https://storycorps.org/embed/46901/
So how do we address the have and the have nots honestly. Herein lies our OPPORTUNITY. It is given to those who have been given MORE to give MORE. We are the hands that reach out with abundance to those who are in need.
For example, I received this text from a good friend just last night, “It is that time of year when we ask our friends if they know of anyone struggling at Christmas– needing help putting presents under the tree for the little ones. If you know of a family in need, please let us know. We would like to help, no questions asked. :)”
As my family gathered around our Thanksgiving table and my Uncle Floyd offered the Thanksgiving prayer, I could not have been more grateful. I could not have felt more whole and filled and loved.
My little family of four, we are happy, we are healthy, we really are warm in a well-heated home, with food in our bellies and clothes on our back. My children have access to good educational opportunities. We have access to well trained doctors and medicine when needed.
We have a secure job and happen to live next to some of the most wonderful neighbors in the world, people who are no longer just neighbors, but true friends.
We have a beautiful group of friends and family who we are perhaps more distant from geographically, but who we feel supported, and loved, and uplifted by them despite the distance.
We have a supportive surrounding community with qualified teachers and coaches, activities and sports of every description. We live at the feet of the mountains that boast the greatest snow on earth. (Come on snow! 😉
But this season I cannot wrest the feeling, the urge, the desire to share not simply the blessings I have but more specifically the LOVE that surrounds me– more powerfully, meaningfully, and deeply with others.
I must take the opportunity to share my bounty with others. One of those ways is to physically give of your time and substance generously and without question as my friend has chosen to do. Yes.
And are there other ways to share and show God’s love this season? To offer real LOVE to the human family we are a part of?
How do we do that? I mentioned in my Thanksgiving Prayer, that often the world seems– looks, and feels, and is portrayed– as if all of humanity is in schism. As if all the world, all of humanity is so very deeply divided, broken, fractured into countless pieces of hatred and false judgement. The very opposite of this love I have felt, and seek and search after.
I have a faith, I have a religion, I have a history and a culture. I am made of so many diverse pieces of past and present. We all are. But how do we so easily forget that, if we choose, we may all sit down at the table of HUMANITY. We may all sit down at the proverbial table of Brotherly Love.
Sitting down at this table does not erase our good pieces, the pieces of us that comprise the whole. It does not magically wipe away religion, politics, gender, race, culture, history, and other differences. Hopefully we will learn to sit around the table with diversities so great and far reaching and look into one another’s eyes with honest care.
I recently came across a quote from Vincent van Gogh who said, “I feel that there is nothing truly more artistic than to love people.” May we practice the art of love. May we feel it towards our neighbors.
May we pray to feel love for our enemies. May we have the faith in our shared humanity enough to sit down at that great table, the table of shared existence, shared being, shared life. The table of brotherly love, compassion, goodwill, mercy, kindness.
To start, we must open our hearts.