I’m facing a new reality: I’m not tall enough to reach the floor.
Sometimes a new reality can lead to hope, and sometimes it goes in the opposite direction.
I hoped as a child to reach 5’3”. My hope flourished when at twelve I hit a growth spurt and reached 5’1”. That hope had long faded by the time I gradated from high school still… at 5’1”.
At my recent doctor visit I hit a new reality: I’m now 4’11”. I was heading the wrong direction in a hurry. My first thought was the obvious bone loss, and the second was my concern about reaching the floor when sitting. I now have slippers with heels and clogs in a variety of colors for lunches out with friends.
If you have height on your side, you probably don’t think about how high tables and chairs are. Often I can’t touch the floor. Dangling tires after awhile.
I don’t think America was designed for people under five feet tall. I’d fit better in Asia.
Don’t you wish spiritual growth happened as easily as taller shoes for shorter people? Maybe something like this:
Feeling scared? Buy a sweater.
Feeling angry? Mop the floor.
Feeling depressed? Eat watermelon.
Last week I hit a long two days of loneliness. (Have you noticed how some emotions seem to add hours to your day?)
I’d spent time with two out-of-town sisters I love very much. When I got home, I reached for my phone to call my Mom and tell her about the wonderful day. My heart had forgotten Mom is gone, in heaven and unavailable for my storytelling.
Loneliness hit hard. I realized how much I loved sharing the everyday details of events with her. She always listened. She always cared. I knew Jesus was near, but He already understood about my day.
I couldn’t seem to stop the thought that loneliness was my new reality. In the quiet I reflected on what Mom would have said to me. I think it would have sounded something like, “I’m so sorry you are sad. What are you going to do about it?”
The answer eventually came. Reach out! Call someone! Get together! You don’t have to be alone! That’s how my Mom lived -- believing a problem had a solution.
So I made a list -- a very long list -- of people I know. Some lived in the area, others would be phone chats. I sat in front of my list and realized all I had to do was make the call.
That’s when the toxic thought from decades ago paralyzed me.
One time at college I spent an evening with a good friend from high school and his roommate who was new to me. I enjoyed getting to know David. He was intelligent and kind with big dreams for his future. I peppered him with questions.
The next day my friend, Michael, called with words that have stuck with me now decades later. Lighthearted, he said, “Have you noticed how you always like people better than they like you?”
His words stunned and stung. I was silent, but the words somehow got buried deep in my heart and, sadly, I gave them room to flourish, even now four decades later.
As I sat before my list of people I could reach out to, the toxic thought of me liking people more than they liked me … well, it paralyzed me from making a call.
As I sat before the Lord asking and listening, I reflected on how I’d become the kind of friend who responded but rarely reached out. The underlying reason: the toxic thought I’d believed for years. “You love others more than they love you… so don’t take the risk to initiate.”
But my wise Teacher and Best Friend whispered this: “Love each other; as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
And Jesus nudged me further: “You be the one who loves most!”
The past week, I’ve sat before my list of friends and family and made calls for dates. My calendar is filling up. My loneliness is gone. And in very small steps, I’m seeking to love others as Jesus does.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
I JOHN 4:9
God didn’t send us into the world to “atone,” but He did send us into the world to love.
Are you believing a lie that keeps you from loving others? I was. But the Lord has cleared that toxic thought and is giving me grace and courage to take one small step at a time… to be the one who reaches out and loves.
The joyful side effect -- no more loneliness.
Do you also harbor a toxic thought that keeps you from reaching out to love others? Some quiet moments with Jesus might unwrap a lie and the truth that sets you free.
Thanks for listening to my story. I’ll be joining you in prayer that we all grow in our ability to love others.