Is there a Teddy Bear in your closet? On a shelf in your living room? Or, (horrible thought) in a box in storage?
You know what? It’s time. Maybe past time. It’s all right to let that Teddy Bear out!
If you’re the kind of adult who thinks he or she has to face illness and pain as a stoic adult, with no hint of “juvenile” behavior, well, I understand. You’re not alone. But, you’re also missing out! Because part of the pleasure of being a self-confident adult is to acknowledge that sometimes you need to be comforted by going back, back to the time when comfort was as easy as having a good cry or a good talk with your trusted Teddy Bear.
I could have sworn I saw the six Bears watching me type this nod in unison. They agree with me; it’s no good to keep them unengaged in life now when they were so important to live not so long ago, in childhood!
Oh, yes, we have friends who are wonderful support and in whom we confide. We pray to God, and we summon His grace and encouragement when we’re most down.
But there’s something special about a Teddy Bear…You’ll see, if you haven’t already. Bring yours out for a visit. I expect you and your Bear have much catching up to do!
When I heard reports of the devastation from the earthquake in Nepal and neighboring countries, I thought of two things: I remembered a friend who had, a few years ago, climbed partway up Mt. Everest. I recalled what he had told me about the base camp, and my mind’s eye saw the pictures of his trip in a whole new, sad light – my friend and his father had been successful in their journey, but now, so many who had hopes of achieving the same goal had been killed in the act of achievement, buried by avalanches triggered by the quake. I prayed for these climbers-who-were-fallen, and for their families. And I prayed that those who were going in to retrieve and, possibly, rescue others would be kept safe and not lose hope.
The second thing I thought of was the destruction that had occurred to so many ancient buildings of faith, temples that had withstood so very much during their lifetime that were now little more than rubble. This is a tragedy, and not one easily overcome, considering the profound, centuries-long meaning instilled in each structure. I prayed that the prayers that had been lifted up by many in those houses of worship would be loosed on the world, swirling around those who remain, to ignite a fire of determination and steadfast belief.
For although the earthquake destroyed precious people and places, as the dust and the earth settle, there are still people who remain and a world ready to help.
Beyond the terror and the pain – yes, there is hope carried along by those who remain.
Have you ever prayed beneath the bright blue sky of God’s creation? Or knelt on soft grass and given thanks to its Creator?
We might pray for rain, or for warm days to come after a hard winter. But besides praying for weather and other things of the earth, one of the best ways to get close to God in prayer is to take our supplication outdoors. There, it’s easy to imagine God’s hand in the wind, or see His handiwork in the clouds. New growth on winter-worn branches reminds us of God’ eternal love, and that once-dormant bush springing to life (a pun in the best sense of the word “Spring!”) is testament to the promise of the rainbow fulfilled. God’s earth will be with us forever – and for this He is forever worthy of praise and prayer!
Try a fair weather prayer this week. Or, if it’s raining, settle in by a window and look out at the natural spring of rejuvenation coming from the heavens. Lift up your prayers then, too. For it is all good!
However hard we try, sometimes, in life with a chronic illness, we are just not pretty. Rashes, hair loss, weight gain or loss, bruises, swelling in places we don’t want it – oh, the list is long! And, when the visible signs of chronic illness (or the audible sounds of an infection) are very, very strong, well, we just might opt for opting out of activities that put us in social situations where we’ll feel conspicuous. Better, we might think, to be in a protective environment than have to explain ourselves or silently bear the stares and glares of others. And, yes, sometimes that is better, because our emotions are tied in with our health, and sometimes we’re just too fragile to warrant venturing out.
But sometimes, it’s good to take stock of those less-than-attractive attributes and creatively, positively deal with them in a way that gives us a bit more confidence and helps us live a bit more socially.
Nearly 20 years ago, at the beginning of the horrible flare that ushered in lupus, I lost all of my hair. Since then, I’ve had one year when it grew back enough so that I did not have to wear wigs or other head coverings. I’ve long ago shed (pardon the pun) my embarrassment at being bald, and instead have learned to enjoy the variety available in the wigs, etc., that I have acquired. Moreover, I’ve learned how to move beyond “this is not pretty” to acceptpositively I interact with others; if I wilt under someone’s stare, I project weakness and sadness. But, if I smile back, despite how I feel or how lupus is affecting me that particular day, I project strength and faith.
Above all, it’s important to remember that we are, each of us, beautiful within. No cliche meant, here, only truth. Because each person who lives will experience physical changes that dismay, confound, or confuse. The aging process does not skip anyone! But it is the Spirit inside, the light and the humanity within, that carries abiding beauty that never ages and always shines – as long as we cherish and nurture it!