Wednesday, December 9, 2015

An Open Letter to the Stranger Who Saved Christmas

   I saw your friend tap you on the shoulder, and I saw you turn around with a surprised look on your face and hug her. At first I thought I was just seeing two old friends having a surprise reunion, and that made me smile. But then I heard you tell your friend that you just got news that you are cancer free, for the sixth year in a row. You and your friend hugged again, and I heard you say how thankful you are to God for this news. You created a Hallmark movie moment right there in that crowded store, except it was even better because it was real life. You taught me a lesson today, and I wanted to thank you. 
Thank you for reminding me that the things making me unhappy are temporary. Thank you for taking my focus away from the shoppers near me who were blocking the aisle to have a lively political debate, and the other shoppers I had already lost patience with, who were holding up the line buying $300 worth of towels and attempting to use multiple coupons, creating the slowest checkout process possible.

    Most of all, thank you for reminding me that being a friend isn't the complicated task I make it in my mind. Thank you for showing me that even when I can't fix a problem that a friend has, when I can't even think of the right thing to say, I can still be there, and let God do the rest. That's the piece I've been missing, and you helped me find it. You showed me that it's not my job to always be the problem solver, because that's what God does. I can help by being the prayer partner, the listening ear, the giver of hugs. And, when a friend has a reason to celebrate, I can celebrate with them, as you did today.
In the midst of this season that seems to demand that we be be jolly and merry on the outside no matter what, thank you for acknowledging, even in the midst of your celebration, that your Christmas six years ago wasn't a happy one. I saw only the triumphant conclusion to your struggle, but it was obvious that this friend was someone who had been with you in your storm, which is why she understood the deep significance of your moment in the sun.
In a short interaction that I saw probably thirty seconds of, you showed me that I need to stop searching for the perfect thing to say, and the perfect Christmas gift, and let God to use the imperfections that are already present in my life. You reminded me that, like friendship, Christmas is not about perfection at all. After all, there seems to nothing perfect about a baby born in a barn, to an unwed teenage mother, but those are exactly the circumstances God used to introduce the One that saved the world, and the whole reason we get to celebrate Christmas in the first place. You taught me to not overlook crying babies in barns in my search for regal kings on thrones, so Thank You for that.

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