(I wrote and published the following essay several Februarys ago. My daughter, Sydney–who is 7 now–was 4 at the time. On this day after Valentine’s Day, I thought it might be a good story to share with you all. It’s also a good example of a type of writing you can get published today–essays based on your own experiences. I hope you enjoy it, and perhaps get some inspiration from it as well.)
I am generally an upbeat person. I take things easy. I don’t let people get under my skin. I don’t experience conflict (not because I avoid it, or don’t like it, but because I generally don’t see the need for it). I rarely go to bed with anything gnawing at me. I definitely don’t hold a grudge, or rarely even feel angry.
But the other day was a different story.
I was really upset at someone (several people, actually) and all I really wanted to do was shout at anyone who would listen to me: “Can you believe that people can be so petty and stupid!?” and basically act like a little child throwing a temper tantrum. (You know. Lying in the floor, fists hitting the ground, feet kicking.) I wanted to tell someone off. I was not really feeling very lovely or loving.
As I ranted and raved internally, Sydney traipsed downstairs holding a book. She sorta shoved it under my nose and I thought to myself, “Not now, Sydney. I really don’t want to read a book to you.” I didn’t say it out loud, of course, but I sure thought it.
I then realized what book she was holding. It was one of those New Testament-only Bibles that she had gotten at one of the various Vacation Bible Schools she attended last summer. She was flipping randomly through the pages, but then settled on a page she had reached.
She had the pages turned over and handed it to me, saying, “You gotta read this to me, Momma. Right here.”
I looked at it and saw that it was opened to First Corinthians. I could see chapters 14 and 15 on the page spread.
But then Sydney pushed her hands in front of me and switched it back one page. “No, Momma,” she said. “Actually [her favorite word is ‘actually’] you need to read this. The one that says 1-3.”
That’s when my heart sorta did a little leap into my throat. As someone who’d been to Sunday School (both dragged, and of my own volition) since a little girl, I immediately knew what First Corinthians 13 was gonna tell me about.
Sydney then said, “Momma, you gotta read it to me. What does it say?”
Before I even read it, I smiled a little smile heavenward. It was a smile that said, “You got me, God. I’m not even gonna fight it, or ignore it. You somehow told Sydney to grab that Bible, and march down to me, and open up to that page right there. So, yep, you got me.”
Sydney looked at me and I read it…paraphrased it a little bit, but pulled out the words that I think God wanted me to see highlighted in front of my eyes.
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love is not rude.
Love is not easily angered.
Love never fails.
Sydney put her head on my shoulder. “I love you,” she said.
And then off she went, traipsing upstairs with that little New Testament in one hand and a Polly Pocket in the other. Clueless as to what message she had brought to me.
I’m not gonna lie and say I stopped feeling mad right then and there. God sends me messages; I don’t always do a 180 right away like He wants me to do.
But, I softened.
I reverted back to Old Cheryl, and realized that anger’s never done it for me in the past. Why let it start now?
I prayed for a loving attitude. I realized that people act in ways that I won’t always understand. I saw the good in the people I was ticked off at. I unclinched my fists and calmed the butterflies in my stomach. I realized that, as trite as it might sound, love really is the way to go.
And, because I’m older (and getting older day-by-day), I didn’t count Sydney’s visit to me as circumstance or coincidence. I stopped to acknowledge the lesson. The epiphany. The “That is so amazingly cool!” moment. The Meaning in the message.