We are entering the holiday season. Thanksgiving is just two weeks away! I’m trying to prepare myself because I know it can bring out the best and the worst of us. I’m always hoping and praying to find the best in others and in myself. But, the truth is, for all it’s festivity, food and frolic, this time of year can leave us empty.
Unrealistic expectations create a cornucopia of emotions; we sit at the table with our bellies full and our hearts hungry for more.
Then comes Black Friday. A day that can be a fun tradition for some folks and not so fun for others who try to bulldoze their way to bargains at any cost. The term “Black Friday” was originally said to be one that police used to describe the heavy traffic jams associated with the busiest shopping day of the year. It now has a darker connotation for those who remember one of the most violent episodes in recent history.
You probably heard about it. It was 2008. A couple thousand people gathered outside a Walmart in New York anxiously awaiting the 5am opening. The doors opened. The now unruly mob busted in trampling a 34-year old employee to death. The shoppers, who one employee referred to as “savages”, did nothing to help the victim but instead continued on their quest for the unholy grail. Saving a few bucks on a brand new…whatever.
How can so many people put saving dollars over saving a life?
And sometimes our self-motivated agendas and insensitivity to others cause us to trample those closest to us. The wounds we inflict might be unseen but they leave a lasting scar so it is important that we learn the art of gentleness. Thankfully, we can learn from the Master!
Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
And, apparently sowing the seeds of gentleness will result in a bountiful harvest of blessing because He promises in Matthew 5:5 that “The meek (another word for gentle) will inherit the earth.”
I have found that it is very difficult to be gentle with others, or with yourself for that matter, when you are filled with turmoil. Peace evaporates when all we’re breathing is the dark, thick air of anxiety.
Like me. Yesterday morning.
I woke with this heavy blanket of worry covering me, thinking more about the bad than the good. Suddenly, I’m embarrassed to admit, I spewed anger. It came out of nowhere, or so I thought, and I was instantly appalled at my outburst. I mean, here I was, normally peace-loving me, barking like a wild animal! And I’ve heard that hungry howl before. It gets loudest when we’re feeling lost, hurt, scared. We are like starving predators on the prowl, hunting for something to fill us up. Something to satisfy those deep soul cravings.
I quickly apologized to my unsuspecting husband, witness to all of my shortcomings, and he showed me grace. Later, when I read this scripture, it hit home.
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7
Here’s what I am continually learning: God has control of all things. Not me. I must lay my burdens at His feet. And thanksgiving must be a part of my every day and not just a one-day-a-year celebration.
I must feast, not on worry, but on the Word so that I can receive what I’m really craving… the peace of God.
I hope your holiday season leaves you satisfied, full of God’s blessings. And if you are already feeling overwhelmed, maybe you would like to join me in this prayer?
Lord, I do not want to invite anxiety into my life. Please help me, instead, to cultivate a gentle spirit by reaching out to you, inviting you to into every situation, knowing you can protect my mind and heart and cover me in perfect peace. Amen.