I was in the middle of a pity party yesterday when I received a note from my friend, Pat. I almost missed it because I was so entrenched in recounting all of the things that weren’t going my way.
I took this picture, thinking I’d write a funny blurb about “A Little Wine with My Whine,” but looking at it, I was overcome with loneliness and couldn’t come up with one bit of humor beyond the title. All I saw was that empty chair sitting next to mine.
Most of the time I make jokes about it. About yelling into thin air at the one who was supposed to be here to fix what’s broken, cut up fallen trees, research purchases, read contracts, lift heavy things and climb ladders. (Who knew there were so many reasons to climb a ladder?!)
But sometimes my whining isn’t laugh-worthy—at least not in the midst of it. The non-ha-ha moments are those that aren’t about the doing. They’re about not having someone to talk to when things feel out of control. No one to console me when I’m afraid. To help make difficult decisions. To worry with over the kids and grandkids.
The hard moments are about that always-empty chair.
So that was the train I was on last night when Pat’s email came through reminding me that
We can choose our own headlines.
What?! But mine was so cute, and I’d grown rather comfortable with it. A Little Wine with My Whine gave me permission to settle into a bout of self-pity. But that’s a rabbit trail I’ve been down before, and I really don’t want to go there again. Pat’s email came just just in time.
It reminded me that instead of paying attention to the front page news coming at us—whether internally or from the world around us—we can choose a different, better headline. I can be the queen of the Waa Waa Whine or I can SHINE (my 2020 Word-of-the-Year), knowing that feelings come and go, but that I’m never, ever alone:
Isaiah 41:9-10: “I have called you back from the ends of the earth saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
How can I feel sorry for myself when I know I am chosen by God Himself?
I forget sometimes. It’s when I take my eyes off Him, and focus on the things of this world—things that will all eventually work out anyway. I just need to be patient and persistent with my little piece of it–not wrestle with loneliness or feelings of self doubt; not give up, and not flip out at people who aren’t moving as quickly and directly toward my desired end goal as I’d like them to. It’s my control freak tendencies boiling up again—wanting to run the show on everything from construction projects to politics and world-wide pandemics. I just want it all settled—my way, in my time.
Father, when will I learn that I’m not in control of anything beyond my own headline of choice? I am still such a mess, even after all these years spent trying to become a better person. I know that all the trying in the world won’t do it: I need to put the focus back on You and count on the power of Your Holy Spirit to produce in me “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Thank You for strengthening me when I get into these slumps, for pulling me up and out of the discouragement pit, and for holding me up with Your victorious right hand. Thank You for letting me choose my own headline over all of the others coming at me—over empty chairs and uncertain futures, over feeling sorry for myself while covered in Your blessings. Thank You for always loving me, for never giving up on me regardless of the mess I am. Amen.
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My headline for today is a simple one: SHINE.