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En(courage)ment for hard times, God Speaking

there are people

There are people God has put in our lives just to teach us to listen more and speak less. There are others who teach us to speak up, and redeem the moments. Our stories and relationships are a tapestry of good lessons, if we will study them. We have children and parents and siblings and friends whose existence can prompt frustration and bitterness and control tactics, or we can let go and invite grace and mercy, say less, and utilize prayer. There are folks in our lives who teach us how to hug, to give gifts, to celebrate, to look closer, to save, to spend, to risk, to plan, to wing it. He is always giving us grace to learn from people, and sometimes it takes years to learn to listen without preaching, to boldly speak without alienating or using blame, to act without guilt. He is always hoping to use us too, in good ways in others’ lives.

We are meant for each other.

We do not have to force atmospheres and comfort levels and speech. We can do what we know and let it be. God uses silence and awkwardness and motor mouths and differences, punch bowls and tmi and wallflower moments, to sand and shape and heal and deepens and widen us, just as He uses comfort, kindred spirits, hoped for invitations and perfectly orchestrated details to affirm and hold and accompany us.

The goal is not to have everything in common with everyone, to have it all look like the movies, but to be in unity. They are different. Like a family, a unit, comprised of different people. We can accept and smile and nod and laugh and hear. We can ask and pray and be at peace with others. We can take up our heartaches with Jesus, and let Him help us through our feelings about other people. And we can offer our hope, insight, journey, honesty and perspective, all with humility, seasoned with grace.

This holiday season, as we encounter all sorts of people on all sorts of pages, let us work toward peace. Let us remember that (unconstructive) criticism and scorn and gossip offer momentary, self-centered relief, but love and all her limbs are as penetrating as good warmth, go far in true impact, and cover well and fully, like a blanket. Truly, love covers a multitude of sins.

There are people you will encounter these next two months, in stores and lines and homes and parties, with orphan hearts and widow souls and outcast memories and waiting stories. Perhaps God is directing this traffic in our lives, these intersections and exclamations and chance collisions, even more than we realize. Perhaps He wants to use us as His instruments of mercy.

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