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.
It’s time for three more windows that will brighten up the view and help provide life everlasting, even stained glass windows!
Stained Glass Window No.1: Simply recognize that eating candy/sugar/junk food in any form at times of frustration or anxiety is a reflex and is a negative, unproductive, childlike response.We can just as easily provide another positive, productive childlike response by singing a Primary song, quoting a scripture or find something for our two hands to do. Hum “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” while you vividly visualize sunbeams streaming through the window on you at a healthy weight. As we sing “in every way try to please Him” we grow beyond trying to make food the problem solver or stress relief.
Stained Glass Window No. 2: Even as Kelly somehow knew inside herself that there was something of value in the pile of junk she had received, then discarded, we too can go back and find the treasure beneath the junk. Whether it’s a relationship with a parent that has caused grief, or a binge that is causing regret, there are always, always good things worth retrieving and lessons to gratefully accept. When we do, who knows what we’ll find! Through gratitude we find the treasure beneath the trash – then it’s time to move on! Kelly’s dream was a message that she was stronger than she thought, and would be up to the challenges of her own life. And so, as God’s own children, are we!
Stained Glass Window No. 3: Tara got brave and figured out a quick solution: She took the cordless phone out of the kitchen and into the laundry room as soon as she heard Elizabeth’s voice on the phone. She did her ironing while talking to Elizabeth and attacked that clothing like she had attacked food in the past. Tara’s feelings stayed in check as both the iron and her daughter let off some steam. When they hung up, she’d take a brisk walk to let off her own steam. Then she went to bed with a prayer of gratitude for a daughter that still wanted to talk to her and the knowledge that she herself had acted, rather than reacted, to the stress. To top it off, her ironing was done!
The scripture concludes: And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. Does any scripture more perfectly describe why we hang in there with positive choices?
How can we possibly quit our journey towards health when we know that stained glass windows are created with one broken colored piece of glass at a time? And that Jesus wants us to shine for him each day? What peace and joy there is in recognizing, accepting and carrying our own burdens – burdens that become lighter and brighter by the day with smart health choices.
Additional Resource: Joy and Gary Lundberg’s book, I Don’t Have to Make Everything All Better. is the absolute essential handbook on letting others solve their own problems – so you can solve yours! I highly recommend it if you don’t already have it.
Today’s Journal Prompt and Discussion Starters:
- What bad habits did you acquire growing up that are childlike?
- With a recent personal challenge, what is the treasure beneath the trash? How can you use that principle of gratitude to move forward?
- When stressful moments arrive, how can you better create a safe, non-food environment?
Today’s Recipe: Easy Salmon with Dill Sauce
Serves 6 at 300 Calories
This easy-to-prepare main course is a winner!
2 pounds salmon steak
1 small cucumber
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tsp. fresh dill (or 1/2 tsp. dill weed)
1 tsp. skim milk
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. yellow mustard
Dash of salt
Dash of pepper
- Preheat oven to 350. Place salmon on a sheet of aluminum foil, just big enough to hold it, then set it on a rack in an 8x8x2 baking dish. Pour cold water into the pan to a depth of 1 inch, then cover then pan snugly with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes, or until it flakes when tested with a fork.
- While it’s baking, combine the remaining ingredients in a small dish.
Carefully peel away the salmon skin and discard it, then ease the fish onto a small platter. Serve with the sauce.
(0 g Dietary Fiber; 300 calories; 18 g Fat; 3 g Carb)
2008 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.