A few years ago I came up with “Thankful Thursday” as a way to remind myself and my connections to take a minute to reflect on and celebrate something we’re extra grateful for. There’s always something, right? And we know what we focus on expands. Well today is also Holy Thursday for those of us who follow the Christian beliefs around Easter and I saw some posts on Facebook this week that concerned me; so I feel compelled to share a few thoughts with you.
Believe me I’m not preaching here. I know I’m far from perfect.
I’ve mentioned before that this year (March 7th 2019) is the 20th anniversary of my brain injury. If surviving something that kills 60+% of the people who experience it doesn’t increase your faith then I’m not sure what will.
I spent a lot of time (and still do) wondering why I survived and wondering why I had the minimal damage I had / have considering the severity of the accident.
I had some long conversations with the Almighty and told Him I understood there were lessons I needed to learn and things He needed me to do and I was willing to do them.
This of course was before I got so frustrated with Him that I told Him to stop being mysterious and start calling me (that’s a story for another time ).
I started to get the unfortunate sense that there was some form of ministry He was calling me to. (Oh no! PLEASE not that! Funny how we say we’ll do whatever we’re called to as long as it’s not X)
I thought maybe if I got more active at church I’d be able to figure this out.
So I was helping at a fundraiser — manning the cupcake table — when 2 pillars of the church came near my table. They didn’t say anything to me or acknowledge me.
Pillar number 3 of the church came in and he asked if I needed anything. If I needed a break or water or anything.
I said no and thanked him.
He left the area and as soon as he was out of ear shot, pillars one and two began talking about him…making fun of him…criticizing him…they sounded like two teenaged girls in the the high school cafeteria.
I watched and listened to them and my jaw dropped open.
Luckily my relief came at that point and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. It was like I’d been hit with a lightning bolt.
As I drove home I realized that being faithful isn’t just going to church. It’s not just reciting prayers we could say in our sleep we’ve said them so many times.
Being truly faithful means living a life of service that’s in alignment with the tenants of our faith. It’s living our lives 24-7 truly in alignment with our faith.
Our faith is challenged in all of the little moments of choice in our daily lives. Will we be kind or will we snap at someone? Will we be patient with that person in front of us at the store or will we sigh loudly and engage in passive-aggressive behavior? Will we say a prayer of thanks that there was no accident and hope the person who cut us off gets to their destination safely or will we we speed up and give them the finger?
And what about our behavior on Facebook, on other social platforms, and even on blog sites? Will we choose kindness and patience, working to understand others actions and motives — always assuming that someone is coming from a good place or maybe an uninformed place — or will we strike out with judgment and even hate?
It was in that moment at the church fundraiser that I suddenly realized so many things about Jesus and faith.
It’s not about the rules. It’s not about what you do on the Sabbath. It’s not about what you eat and when you eat it or anything else.
It’s about Love.
We’re made in God’s image. The image of love.
“Love thy neighbor as yourself” is one of the “two great commandments. “
It’s not about romantic love. It’s about compassion. Compassion for others and also compassion for ourselves.
A friend of mine is going through something truly horrible on Facebook right now. Lawyers are involved. It’s stressful. It’s ugly.
I’ve seen people make hateful comments to others over political beliefs and I’m sure you have too.
So on this day of all days as we move into the holiest of time in the church calendar, please ask yourself what you could do to bring your life more into alignment with your faith, beliefs, and values. And what more could you do to become more Christ-like? Because whether you consider yourself Christian or not, there’s probably some element of Jesus’ life and teachings that you (that we all) can learn from and admire.
BTW, I wrote a book after that experience at my church. It’s called Faith From 9 to 5. I’m writing this and wondering now if maybe it’s time for the sequel?
Have a reflective Holy Thursday and long Easter (or Passover) weekend.