Have you ever seen the movie, Pollyanna? The one about a girl who goes through life playing the glad-game and always seeing things on the sunny-side-of-life? The definition of a Pollyanna? One who is excessively cheerful and optimistic. That's her!
But it sure isn't me!
As a child, I loved that movie. I wanted to be like her...a bright ray of sunshine making the whole world...and everyone in it...happy. I wanted to dress like her, talk like her, be her. But no matter how hard I tried, I never could. Oh, I could keep up the effort for a time or two...or even a day or so...but in the end, I always ended up me: insecure, never sure of what to say, feeling inadequate in most situations...plain ol' me.
Maybe that's when my gift of encouragement first started peeking out of the shadows...only to be eclipsed by my fleshly attempts to drag it out into the open and make it perform like I thought it should...in just the same way that Pollyanna did.
All I know is that I embraced the challenge that a little girl named Pollyanna could meet someone who was unhappy or in pain...and through her cheerfulness and optimism...turn that person into someone who was lovely, hopeful, and changed! She was like a little bit of yeast that turned a whole lump of sticky, gooey humanity into a loaf of bread fit for a king!
There's a lot of truth to the idea that what you read and see as a child and as an adult, leaves an imprint on you...for better or for worse. I still find myself singing that song from our kid's childhoods, "Input, output, what goes in is what comes out...input, output daily you must choose."
All this came to mind this morning as I was reading in 1 Thessalonians where Paul writes...
"You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master...do you know that all over the provinces of both Macedonia and Achaia believers look up to you? The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master's Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don't even have to say anything anymore...You're the message!"
The first thing I wrote in pink ink on the edge of that paragraph? Others are watching!
Let me ask you, do you ever think you should be doing something more? You know, like holding a giant crusade? Or saving a tiny nation? Or rescuing all the homeless animals and people? Something simple like that?
I do at times. It's so easy to feel like there's so much to be done and if only we were_____________ (fill in the blank), we would get more accomplished for the Lord. Surely our simple daily lives can't be offerings worthy of all our Lord has done for us!
But that's not what I'm hearing Paul say here...and for that reason we should be encouraged!
Unless you are a hermit hiding away in a cave in an unreachable location (and I know you're not because you are reading this blog via internet!), you are with people every day...whether it be your kids, your neighbors, your coworkers or some other form of human being.
And every day, day in and day out, you have been given the gift to testify...by your life and your words and your attitude...that God Is. And I'm referring to both the good days and the bad days, for each offers unique opportunities to share the hope that lies within us.
There isn't a person alive who isn't struggling with something. It's no mistake that we were born at this time of history, into the families we were given, made up of the strengths and weaknesses we bear. Everyday, God places each of us specifically into the paths of those He knows need Him...broken, scared, hurting people who desperately need to see our simple lives echoing the Master's Word.
And if you're thinking you need to be perfect in order to do this...dump that lie now!
We can only offer true hope when we are real...being willing to be honest in our weaknesses and failures...for how else can others relate to us? Seeing us struggle and cry out and fall and get up again says infinitely more than watching us walk around like untarnished royalty wearing a crown.
Even Pollyanna found this out, for it wasn't until the end of the movie...when Pollyanna herself became discouraged and without hope...that all those around her were able to step up and into who she had prepared them to be...no longer lovers of self, hiding away in their sins and brokenness...but freed to be instruments of healing and grace to themselves and others.
You get the idea...be real. Be vulnerable. Be available to echo the Master's Words. Be a messenger of hope!
And definitely, unless your name is Pollyanna, do not be Pollyanna! Be you, beautiful one! You are amazing! You are fearfully and wonderfully made and you have so much to offer this world...just as you are...right where you are!
And me? I'd hate to travel this road without you...I love that you travel it with me!
Shine on, dear one!