Something is comforting, not in the calories, but in the companionship, food can provide.
When life is good, we celebrate with ice cream, and when life is bad, we cope with brownies.
Any day can feel familiar and lovely when coupled with the coziness of Grandma’s recipes or the warmth of your favorite meal with your favorite people.
Although for all the goodness offered to us through food, it can also become something it was never intended to be, a friend.
Three years ago, it was a brand new year. A lot like today.
Flipping the calendar to a new year made life feel so much more wide-open than it had just a few weeks prior.
Dreams and options received new breath. Ideas that had felt impractical and unachievable now had a place at the table of “maybe we could.”
So I began to dream about all that we could do that year. All sorts of possibilities came to mind, but with it came the overwhelming question of where to begin on it all.
You see her.
In your Instagram feed. Writing another book. Up on a stage. Traveling the globe and doing work that seems to be changing the world.
Meanwhile, you are stuck paying bills and budgeting. Carpooling and folding laundry. Hustling but not getting anywhere fast.
Your life feels far from extraordinary. Yours lacks influence, and your work seems unimportant in comparison to what she, and others like her, are doing.
People all around you seem to have megaphones and microphones, and you are simply standing among the masses: a speck in a sea of insignificance.
The beautifully wrapped packages, the gorgeously decorated tree, the perfectly prepared meal. This time of year we all begin to make our dream lists about creating the warmest of holiday celebrations for our families.
While the details of our visions may vary, our hopes are similar. We want those who fill our homes over the holidays to feel loved, welcomed, and celebrated, with nothing missing from the picture perfect vision in our heads.
And so we hustle to the stores, bustle around the kitchen, and keep our hands busy prepping and planning so that the holidays can be all they were meant to be.
But, friends, have you ever felt harried by the holiday hustle? Does the stress of meal planning, house tidying, gift buying, and guest hosting wear you thin rather than fill you up?
If so, then I am here to tell you that you are not the only one.
Will Smith ranks as one of my all-time favorite actors. While I have many of his movies in my movie collection, The Pursuit of Happyness is one of my top picks. In it, Will Smith portrays Chris Gardner, a homeless salesman and single father in a 1981 San Francisco.
The Pursuit of Happyness is a movie that tells a tale of struggle and setback, perseverance and determination. Victory finally arrives, but not until after a long, hard road. And somewhere along the way, Chris Gardner finds happiness.
Friends, I dare say, that the path to our happiness looks quite similar. We want to arrive at a place of happiness, where things go our way and life is easy and good. Yet, happiness is not the end destination, but simply a product of our journey.
After 14 hours sitting sedentary in a car and logging hundreds of miles of fast food and soda pop, I looked into the hotel mirror that night and saw the worst version of myself. Greasy hair, muffin top belly, and a blotchy, pimpled face.
“Disgusting. I feel so disgusting,” is all I could think.
For the remainder of that day, all I felt was unattractive. Fat and unattractive.
Fast forward 12 hours + a solid night’s rest. The morning greets me at 6:00 a.m. and I head to the same hotel’s weight room for a 30-minute run on the treadmill. When I return to our room, I look in the same mirror. Staring back at me is the woman from the day before, sweaty, stinky and make-up less. Yet, this woman looks different. She doesn’t seem fat at all. She seems strong, capable and full of life.
My muffin top was still there. The adolescent-type pimples hadn’t disappeared overnight. I still hadn’t showered. So, what in the world had changed that I viewed myself so differently within just 12 hours?
If you didn’t get paid, would you still go to work every day?
I’m sure that made you laugh just a bit, and that’s completely alright. Most of us have jobs that are just that: jobs. We show up because we need the money, not because we are passionate about the work.
Which, I believe, leads us to live the lie that we only work because we get paid. If we didn’t need the money, then we wouldn’t need a job. And life would be good.
But because we need money, we get up and go to work.
You, my friend, are a missionary.
You may not have had to move to a faraway country or raise financial support, but you have been strategically placed by God to live intentionally in the very community you are in right now.
You may not be an official missionary in the traditional sense of the word, but you are indeed an everyday one. You are an everyday missionary, and God has placed you in your corner of the world for a purpose.
And I believe that purpose is to love God and love people with everything you have. (Mark 12:29-31)
You may be thinking, who me? I am not a missionary. I’m not married to a pastor; I didn’t go to seminary. Heck! I’m not even a small group leader.
To that, I say, Perfect! Because God’s Word doesn’t call people to do any of those things.
Our country is home to the “American Dream,” the idea that anyone can be anything they want to be, and the opportunity exists for everyone to pursue prosperity and happiness.
As a parent, we often want this same dream for our children. We want to give them a strong foundation, a solid education and an incredible amount of loving support so that they may become all that they were meant to be.
But what if they were made to be a garbage man, a janitor, or a McDonald’s employee?
We were standing in an empty parking lot, the final stragglers from a local meet-up. Continuing our conversation long after the doors closed, we stood by our car doors, and my good friend listened as I grumbled about the overwhelming season of life in which I found myself.
I steadfastly declared that I would simply quit the most taxing endeavor I was a part of because it was all too much and that was the most expendable option. Quitting made obvious sense and I sighed in relief just thinking about the freedom it would bring.
That is until she looked me right in the eye and said, “You’re a quitter. You quit when things get hard.“
“I’m not a quitter,” I replied, with more question than resolve in my voice.
“Yes, you are.”