To Shine for Him Each Day
By Carolyn Allen
February often means that our windows look out on gray skies and dreary days. With love and prayer, here are three short stories about children that may serve us as personal windows, even magnificent stained-glass windows, into healthier living, smart food choices and self-mastery.
Today's scripture has long been a favorite of mine. Though the first sentence is one we are comfortable with, the second one, in italics, is often ignored.
Today's Scripture : “Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ … but let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. (Galations 6:2-5)
Psychiatrist and author Elisabeth Kubler-Ross says that people “are like stained-glass windows. They always sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed from the light within.” Here are the three stained-glass stories.
Window No. 1:
One recent Christmas our family sat behind one of the lovely young families in our ward. Adding to the joy of their two-year-old daughter and two-month old son were members of their extended family visiting from Utah, including another two-year-old little girl and another two-month-old baby boy. The beautiful young mothers were sisters and had clearly looked forward to this special Sunday for a long time. They had even arranged for matching dressings for their little daughters: — black velvet jumpers with embroidered white blouses and matching hair bands. It was a little piece of heaven to watch.
Things were a bit busy, but in control and delightful for quite a while until a crayon-breaking contest started between the little girls. The atmosphere tensed up with a couple of loudly whispered intense verbal exchanges between the tiny cousins, and things started to spiral down. Then one of them made a comment that made her my eternal soulmate: “Mom! Candy! I need some candy right now!” Her mom did, indeed have some candy in her bag, and that got them over the hump for the moment.
I saw myself in her and just had to both laugh and cry a little bit. Why do we think that candy will comfort and help? .
Window No. 2:
The stained glass windows in Sainte Chapelle.
My daughter Kelly, going on 15, has always had extremely vivid and exciting dreams. She seems to have been surrounded throughout her years at school with challenging social situations, especially among other girls.
One morning she got up and with sparkling eyes shared the following dream:
A new girl at school had come up to her and without a comment had dumped an armload of junky old stuff into Kelly's lap. It seemed that all of it was broken — eyeglasses with the lenses cracked, torn books and magazines, old Barbies with frizzy hair and missing clothes, and so on. In the dream, Kelly herself felt very insulted and quickly dumped it all in the trash, then turned back. In the dream she had a feeling that there was something of value that she had thrown away along with the junk. She went back to the trash can and made a mess unloading and searching through everything. There at the bottom of the junk in an old stained, ripped envelope was $500 cash in $100 bills.
In her dream she was so happy that she'd found it, and marveled at how she had known it was there! The dream was very vivid and we spent quite some time thinking about it and sorting through it for some personal guidance.
Window No. 3:
My friend Tara's young adult daughter Elizabeth was living away from home and making some disappointing choices with her life. Elizabeth frequently called to sort out her life around 8:00 p.m., just when a carefully prepared low-fat dinner was over, the kitchen cleaned up and Tara was relaxing after a long day.
The cordless phone was in the kitchen and as the phone conversation progressed, Tara usually found herself rummaging through the freezer and pantry for snacks to nibble while she tried to keep her cool and maintain her relationship with her daughter.
When there was nothing to nibble on (because she had very carefully not bought them at the store) she'd mix together mini batches of "cookie dough" with a little margarine, flour and sugar as she listened.
By the time they hung up, any plans to be through eating for the evening were long gone — and she often went to bed more frustrated and angry with herself than with her daughter.
If we were together, we could discuss these three windows for hours! We would together turn them into magnificent stained glass windows of insight and action. But here are my thoughts, and I hope you'll add yours in the journal prompts/discussion starters at the end of the article.
From Window No. 1: For many of us our own moms passed out the candy, cookies, donuts and ice cream when things were going bad. Food for comfort and distraction is a deeply-ingrained reaction to stress and is still a habit, long after Mom is no longer around. Perhaps it works as a temporary distraction for children, but for we grown-ups, that quick-fix has created an association in our heads and hearts from years and years of abusing food as a problem solver.
From Window No. 2: Who among us has not been handed a pile of broken things from a situation we never asked for, wanted, or even saw coming?
From Window No. 3: How can our children and loved ones be the ones who bring the most anxiety? Why do we insist on coping with the anxiety with something inappropriate to eat in our mouths, thus adding to the anxiety and frustration?
Back to our scripture!
Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ … but let every man prove his own work , and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone.
Our great desire and lifelong training to bear one another's burdens is Christlike and good. Of equal importance, however, is bearing our own burdens and solving our own problems! Of all the problems that no one can fix for us, it's our own, personal, health choices and their consequences.
The scripture continues: For he that soweth in the flesh (through stress eating and mindless nibbling on junk foods?) shall of the flesh reap corruption (is that not the perfect word for extra pounds and hindered health conditions?) but he that soweth in the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.