When I’m at the beach I wear these heinous shoes all day, every day. They are the dorkiest item of apparel I own, but I wouldn’t even consider walking through the sand without them.
As soon as my feet hit the boardwalk leading from the condo to the beach, my family parts like the Red Sea, and I take off sprinting past them, sometimes with the pool bag flapping at my side, until I am ankle deep in ocean. I look ridiculous. I know I do. I look like I’m being chased by a Land Shark. People probably joke at dinner about the crazy lady they saw running by herself onto the beach, speculating about what motivated me to act like a maniac. But I do not care.
See, I’m allergic to fire ants, and not just like “achoo” or “dang I got a rash” but like” jab me with my Epipen and rush me to the hospital ASAP.” So to avoid these little buggers who live in hot, sandy places, I cover my feet and keep them in the wet sand where the ants are less likely to bite. And it is worth the ugly shoes and the strange antics to stay safe. Every single step of the way.
I’m sure there are many other things I do that seem strange or counter cultural to someone observing, but I do them for self-preservation. You probably do too. At dessert while out to eat with some girlfriends recently, one friend offered another friend a bite of her brownie. She answered, “No thanks. It looks so good, but I’d have to pay for it for a week.” She is gluten free and knows the wheat in baked goods attacks her body. The bite of rich, chocolaty brownie, although oh so yummy, just isn’t worth it for her. I have another girlfriend who needs her sleep. NEEDS IT. Like no one else I’ve ever met. She wakes up, takes her kids to school in the mornings and goes back to bed for another hour or so every school day. As a result every minute she’s awake she is more energetic, more productive, and happier. It is what she needs to be healthy and in a good place. And so no matter what everyone else does or thinks she should do, she deliberately gets her sleep.
It’s not always convenient to do the thing that’s best for you. But it’s essential to do it anyway.
The most significant thing I do each day to keep me grounded, safe, full of joy, and in the right frame of mind is to read the Bible. Most mornings I am on the fly—attempting to sneak a jog in before it’s sweltering hot, trying to get one of my kids on time to an early morning soccer game, hoping to get a bit of writing in before the rest of my family wakes up. And then there are the days when I am just sooo sleepy. But regardless of how handy or opportune, deliberately starting my day in the Word keeps me anchored to who I am.
So before I pull my covers off, I reach under my bed, pull out my Bible and my journal and see what God has in store for me for the day at hand. My morning time with my Bible:
There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 MSG
Just like my awful pink beach shoes keep me safe from seemingly harmless insects that are life-threatening to me, beginning my day immersed in the Word of God protects me against seemingly innocent insults, rejections, comments, stresses and tensions, and reminds me I am wholly and completely loved and accepted, just as I am. And this reward is so fulfilling that I am always glad I woke up early, took the time, or waited to get started on something else. Always.
How about you? What seemingly countercultural or inconvenient things do you do to keep yourself grounded, safe, happy and shining your true reflection?
After being handed my standard issue clipboard with predictable paperwork at my annual blood draw for health insurance purposes today, I sat down in a typical doctor’s office chair to be greeted with a surprise comment.
“Good morning and God bless you too!” said the older gentleman seated next to me.
He had to be speaking to me, because there was no one else in the waiting room. But I hadn’t spoken yet, making the “too” part of his greeting slightly confusing. But I like to be blessed. And he was friendly, so I said, “Good morning and God bless you.”
And we continued filling out our forms.
Four seconds later my husband walked in. We are required to have this done every year to maintain lower health insurance rates and we always wait until the last week for some reason, so today was our day.
“How was Bible study,” I asked him.
Brett could only give me two or three sentences about who was at Bible study and what kind of donuts they had before my name was called. Now having blood drawn is not my strong suit. Let’s just say I always have to warn the phlebotomist I may pass out. I also know to pack a banana in my purse to eat the second they’re finished to try to give my blood sugar a little replacement.
I’m pleased to report my phlebotomist was gentle, I didn’t look, and I didn’t faint. I did feel woozy, so I sat for a moment or two in the room on the cot, and then for another moment, until she said my pupils looked normal again. I slowly stood, scuffled out to the hall where the same gentleman walked by on the way to his room.
“Where in the Word are you?” He asked.
I’ve been asked by so many people over the years, people I know, people from church, close friends, what my Bible study is studying or what my pastor is teaching, but I can’t remember anyone asking me where I am in the Word, let alone a stranger. Ever.
I was blown away and blessed.
“Galatians,” I managed
“I just finished 2 Samuel last night!” He proclaimed then held up his hand and gave me a powerful high five.
He went into his room.
I sat on the chair nearest the door eating my banana until my husband came out, so we could go to Starbucks together.
But that man…
“Where are you in the Word?”
Wouldn’t it be cool if we greeted each other like that? Just assuming that everyone we met is reading the Bible. Curious to see what they’re studying, what they might be learning, if they’re knee deep in some of our favorite verses or braving books we might normally steer clear of, inspiring us to go back in for seconds or to give something new a try.
Granted, he might have gathered I was a Christian if he heard me ask my husband how Bible study was, but he didn’t know that when he told me, “God bless you too.”
So, what if we asked everyone. What if some people looked at us like we were insane? What if some people asked us what we meant by “The Word” and we were able to share the Gospel?
I went in to have my blood drawn. I went in to check a box for my insurance. I went in nervous and apprehensive.
I came out inspired. And challenged.
So, I ask you friends, where are you in the Word today? I’d love to hear. Inspire me. Challenge me. Where are you?