“I suspect God gets what God prays for!”
— Richard Rohr
I have been noticing beauty on a more frequent basis. Truth be told, I’ve just become better at paying attention. I love more, I listen more, and I am consistently grateful. This has opened up my world view significantly, and I tend to find charm in typically insignificant things. Have you ever read something, a passage or a poem, that just struck a cord with you for no specific reason? You just… had a feeling. And that can be off-putting if you’re not used to it, but it happens more than you think. I encourage you to pay attention to those moments. God is in those moments. Underline them. Write them down. Sing a song about them, or snap a photo. Just do what you can to preserve that moment and wait till later to figure out why it tickled you so.
A few months ago, in a small town doctors office, I saw an old wall hang:
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
— Proverbs 16:9
I saw that verse, in various states of translation, probably five or six times the next couple weeks. It took me months to figure out, but I’m pretty sure that’s an accurate account of my journey. The tricky part has been defining (on a deeply personal level) who exactly this Lord character is. I’m just getting started there, but for now I’m just calling him God. If you’re uncomfortable with that, call him an It and the It something like Spirit. I don’t think God much cares one way or another. Kind of a waste of time for the creator of all the things, don’t ya think?
I paid attention to the verse, and one day I was able to use that verse to help a friend. She had been struggling with her role in someone’s life by wanting to do more than she realistically could. So I proposed, “You were a step. She needed help and God provided a step for her in you. You got her to the next one.” Now, I have no idea how rooted in actual genius this was, but I felt pretty confident the verse had served it’s purpose.
No matter what you think of that story, please understand its importance isn’t Biblical. At least not in any typical sense. Here’s what I believe: it was Celestial. To me that’s a much better word… because it doesn’t divide by associating itself with a single religion. It’s much bigger than that!
Here’s another one:
My family and I were eating breakfast at a hotel when we realized our toddler needed a diaper change… badly. I took him into the bathroom and set him down on the countertop by the sink. He saw himself in the oversized mirror, smiled real big, pointed to his reflection and said “Hey, I know you! I like you!”
When was the last time You looked at yourself in the mirror, smiled and said “I like you“? Do you remember? Do you think, given the opportunity, you could? Why don’t you? Go ahead… take a minute. I’ll wait.
We can learn so much from children. We’re always so preoccupied with what we have to teach them, we miss their little lessons. They’re spiritual ninjas, man! My son’s first instinct while looking into a mirror was to compliment himself! You cannot tell me God had nothing to do with that! A Celestial moment, indeed!
We were at a Taco Bell one night around 9:30. Lord knows why we were hungry. We may just have not quite been ready to end the day. It was 4th of July weekend. Kinda muggy. We were just sitting at the table eating our tacos and laughing at nonsense. Our son saw a lighting bug outside the window and very much wanted to talk to it. He was so excited. He said “Hi! Hi, bug!” We laughed at the cuteness. Then our daughter asked her little brother what the bugs name was. Without missing a beat, the boy said “Becky!” So… now all fireflies are Becky, and I feel a deep sadness when one dies tragically on my windshield.
I would like very much for you to remember this story. Not only because it’s cute, but because it’s a moment of such pure excitement, honesty, wonder, and an unspoken understanding of just how connected we all are. If it wasn’t for Becky, and my kids scheming to give her a name… it would have just been a pointless story about a stale taco and a bug on the window.
Perhaps you’re wondering why I bothered to tell you any of this. How does it connect as a piece to the puzzle I’m trying to share? Well… because all moments are precious. And each one has a lesson hidden somewhere within. You may not be able to see them yet, but you’re reading these words for a reason. Perhaps some of them will help hold your weight as you struggle to take the next step. Perhaps the next time you see your reflection you’ll look a little deeper than the time before… then deeper the time after that. Or maybe you’ll be lonely one summer night and suddenly find yourself surrounded by Becky’s, each one shining a light just long enough to show you where to find a smile.
We are all in this together. Until the next time… go collect some stories.