I think of so many occasions on which I wanted to reach out and embrace someone, but out of fear of how they would react, I didn’t. I marvel at the myriad instances in which I had felt an urge to bless somebody or to pray over them, yet out of fear for what they might think, I held back. I am realizing today that this fear, this tiny fear, has held back so many blessings, has kept me from being the vessel of God’s grace that I know He created me to be.
Can you think of similar instances in your experience? What was the fear? What held you back?
Mother, father, you have been given an extraordinary gift not only to bring a new life into the world, but to love that child, to learn to love through that child, to teach that child how to love. You have been placed as a leader, an authority over that child, not just to impose your will or your wrath, but to lead that child in every aspect of life. And in many ways you’ve failed.
Not that your a bad parent, but we all make mistakes on the life-long learning experience that is parenthood. Yet no matter the age of your children today, you can learn to be a better parent, a better leader to your children, especially when it comes to God.
How many times a day do you think of your children? How often do you pray for them? How often do you tell them you love them? How often do you bless them?
Parents, you are the first image of God your children will ever encounter. In you they first experience love, tenderness, mercy, joy. Even if your household isn’t or wasn’t the ideal place for them to learn these things, in the midst of traumatizing circumstances, God’s grace can shine. Yet if we fail to be open to it, to cooperate with it, to allow it to flow in us and through us, then we fail to bring His grace to others.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
When you married your spouse did you realize what you were getting yourself into? The romantic images of walking hand in hand down a sandy beach while the sun sets and the waves crash softly on the shore don’t have to fade away completely, but once reality sets in and the difficulties of living the married life hit home, you come to realize that marriage isn’t all fun and games.
Marriage is often a battle and that’s because you and your spouse have committed yourselves to each other, not just to make each other happy, but to love each other totally and to lead each other to heaven. That’s a huge responsibility. And of course, you will face resistance. Yet, you’re not alone.
God is with you in your marriage
The whole point of the sacrament is that He is present in your marriage. As you recite those famous vows you are filled with a sanctifying grace, the powerful life-giving grace that you receive is what makes it possible to love that person even when they treat you poorly, even when they disrespect you, even when you don’t feel warm and fuzzy about them. Grace allows you to not only get through those difficult times of disillusionment, but to transform them into opportunities for blessing.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”
How many times have you prayed for your spouse? How many times have prayed with your spouse? How many times have you reached out and made the sign of the cross on their forehead or placed your hands on their head and blessed them?
You are meant to be a blessing to your spouse.
You are meant to be the presence of God to them. You are meant to lead them to God. Don’t allow the difficulties of marriage to prevent you from being a vessel of God’s grace to your spouse.
I know that when you and your spouse are having a fight you think the last thing they want to hear is, “hey babe, let’s pray.” Being a Christian means going against the grain. It is a counter-cultural lifestyle and it will feel weird sometimes. Allow God to embrace your spouse in His love. Allow His mercy to be made manifest through you. After all, that is what marriage is all about.
The workplace is almost always devoid of grace. Why? Because we constantly complain about it and talk negatively about the people we work with everyday. You might think, well I’m just venting. But in all reality you are cursing your co-workers and making your life and theirs a living hell, literally.
Think about it, what would happen if instead of complaining about your co-workers you prayed for them? What would happen if each day you woke up enthusiastic about the opportunities that lie open for you to be an instrument of grace to your co-workers, and they to you? What would happen if the first encounter you had with each of your co-workers today was to greet them with a smile? What would happen if at the end of each day you proclaimed a blessing to them as you left the office?
This is how your workplace becomes holy
It doesn’t mean you need to set up a Bible study during your lunch hour, although that would be cool too. What it means is that by approaching your workday as an opportunity to share God’s love and mercy with your co-workers you become a beacon of light, not just to look good in their eyes, but to literally shine the light of God upon them.
Don’t worry about what people think or what they will say about you. Be “the light of the world” that you were meant to be. Your faith in God should not just transform your life, but the lives of those around you. And if you but the lamp under a basket or under the table it isn’t going to shine. It isn’t going to bring light to the room.
Imagine how you might help a co-worker who is dealing with depression, how your joy could touch their life. Think about how someone who is dealing with loss can feel comforted by the fact you are willing to listen to them. The possibilities are endless. God can work in you and through you in the lives of your co-workers in more ways than you can imagine. But you have to be open to His grace.
It Doesn’t End Here
These are just a few examples of the way in which you can be a blessing to others. It all starts in the home which is why I used the examples of parents and spouses. Yet, the extended family is also important. And since most of us spend the majority of each day at work, it was important for me to talk about that area of life. But there are no limits to where God may choose to work through you. When you open yourself up to His grace, He will take you places you never imagined. And He will touch lives through you if you let Him.
That voice inside your head trying to convince you not to love, not to pray for others, not to bless others, that is the enemy. He is whispers his lies all day and night. Only when you put fear aside and step out in faith, trusting in God’s guidance will you ever experience what it is to be “the light of the world”.