“You want me to do what?!”
“Just think about it Jewel, there are so many people around the holidays whose hearts are aching and torn apart by the love they lacked in their childhoods- or the love they lack now.”
“But I haven’t missed a Christmas with my family. Ever. “
“Some people never had a Christmas with family. Or with a family who loved them and supported them like yours.”
Silence. This Guy. He has a way of getting under my skin and into my heart. He has a way of knocking over all my barricades and wreaking havoc on my deepest desires. The nerve. The nerve to ask me to miss Christmas with my family so I can be a ray of love in someone else’s dark lives. What surprises me more than this request is the excitement starting to run all over me. What if I can really make a difference? What if there is someone out there whose parents had always ignored them and who only had Christmas memories filled with fighting and loneliness and misunderstanding- someone that I can spoil with holiday love? What if this Guy had immersed me in family adoration so I can spill it over onto someone else and let them experience something I’ve always been blessed to know?
“Fine. You got me. You know I can’t pass up an adventure. That’s what You were counting on weren’t You? Sly. Real sly. So what can I do besides sing my guts out in the choir at every service?”
“How about loving at least one person every day in December?”
“Fwew. Dear, I don’t know if you can count so well, but that’s 25!”
“Actually it’s 31.”
“Oh, right. My brain stopped at Christmas.”
Love someone. At least one. Every day. If this year taught me anything it’s that I can’t love without first being loved. Staying stuck on His love from dawn til dusk. Otherwise I’ve got nothing but stale crumbly shamlove to hand out. Not so hot. So 31 days of inhaling His love then turning inside out to lavish it on someone else. “Love people.” It sounds vague at first. Then my mind floods with real live images of people in my life. He wasn’t gonna let me off the hook by letting me float through my days and, well, if I happened to find a little love pocket to bless someone in then so be it, but if not, that was His fault. No. My brain is already sorting and cataloguing all the people I’ve encountered this year that this love is meant for:
STARBUCKS: I worked at Starbucks for six months this year. Despite the fact that the job felt like breathing sand into the lungs of my dreams, the team I worked with was amazing. Maybe this December I could reconnect with them. Most of them would be working on Christmas, and stuck in LA. I could visit them, bring them Christmas cookies or invite them to see me sing in the choir. After all, they seemed to like me. Still trying to figure that one out.
HOMELESS: There are 250,000 homeless in LA. I saw that on this blog I randomly read one day (Lie. I read it every week): Make it Mad. 250,000. Maybe on Christmas I can go help at a homeless shelter. Or maybe… The memory is lodged in my head like a sliver. My break was almost over at Starbucks and I was still waiting for the bathroom. There was another lady waiting behind me and we were both getting impatient. The other lady finally stomped past me and pounded on the door. Moments later a little homeless lady, maybe 5 feet tall and hunched over, immerged and watched the floor all the way out of Starbucks. The lady and I gave each other a knowing look; oh that’s why it took so long. “She’s got that spot over on Ventura. I’ll go mess up her little home.” The lady joked. I gave a half smile to hide the horror I felt at this remark. I knew she didn’t mean to be cruel, but how could she even joke like that? Didn’t she realize how blessed she was to have a home while my dear little homeless lady slept in empty store-front nooks cradled only by the frigid night air? My heart broke for the lady in line as much as for the homeless lady. Maybe this Christmas, even if I couldn’t make it to a shelter, I could do something, anything for my little homeless lady. A new coat. A new blanket. A pad to sleep on. A rotisserie chicken from Ralphs? I may not be able to rescue 250,000 homeless this Christmas, but maybe I can love the one within my reach.
APARTMENT: My apartment complex. Love it. Many people have already moved in and out of it since I’ve been there, but I’m hooked. One of my favorite things about it is there are only 7 apartments and everyone knows each other. There’s the young guys downstairs, the young ladies upstairs, the empty apartment, and then the rest are occupied by elderly people: John, Betty, Jane and the cutest little couple from Brooklyn, Rose and Carmine. We may greet each other in passing, but unless I bump into them in a fashion where it would be awkward and confusing for me to turn and run the other way, I usually don’t hold real conversations with them. Ridiculous much? Yes I am. So maybe this December I can spend one day working up the courage to spend time with them, if only to take them baked-somethings and let them know I care.
When I sat down today at the coffee shop with my favorite coffee cup (which happens to say “love” on it, come to think of it) I was terrified. The risk is undeniable. What if I fail? What if that person starts coming my way and I lose all my guts? What if I’ve told you all I’m going to love people but instead end up hiding inside my apartment for a month straight justifying my solitude by reading lots of books and making lots of artwork and practicing my graphic design? Well, there’s nothing to be done now but risk it all, and trust.
If I kept this to myself I’d be much safer. If a few days are wins and the rest I don’t triumph the only ones to know would be me and this Guy. But it’s too late now. I’m hanging the ultimate “No Way Out” sign on this month and stepping through the door. But here’s the catch, I’m only locking it from the outside. I can’t get out, but anyone else can get in and join me. At the very least you can stand on the other side and yell “tough luck bucko, keep going,” if you hear me pounding to get out. Knowing my church, they won’t let me get out of this once they’ve read it. I’m delightfully doomed. I’m going to love the poor and the mean and the proud (God knows how proud and mean I can be.) Love them all! And if I don’t see magical wonder in their eyes when I give it a shot I’ll…I’ll just… leave the rest to Him. (I really want to see magical wonder though.)
I’ll keep you posted.
Ok, I have to take the last sip of my coffee and pack up this laptop because I have a door to walk through. It’s going to lock behind me for the next 31 days so…wish me luck!