A Love that Defends Us
From the gentle whispering of leaves and grasses to the loud honking in the streets, noises surround us.
Sometimes, though, they do more than just surround us.
Although soft, whispers are powerful. Secrets are powerful.
As I teacher, I used this to my advantage.
To grab the attention of my kindergarteners and make new content stick instantly, I would start the lesson with a really excited face and a really soft voice.
I'd tell them I have something really special to share today.
(Acutely aware that I just said "really" three times in two breaths, but in kindergarten, enthusiasm is key. If that rubs you the wrong way, be glad you weren't in my class.)
I'd ask if they are good at keeping secrets, to which they'd all nod enthusiastically and I'd receive a clamor of "YES! YES! YES!!!!"
However, I knew this was not the case. And this is precisely why I was teaching with secrets.
I'd ask one of my kiddos to go close the door.
We'd exaggerate this a bit and have another go check the window and close the blinds.
We needed to make sure no one else was around who might hear this secret.
After getting the thumbs up from our door and window checkers, we'd lean in for the secret.
This was my favorite way to introduce letters and sounds. I might say, "I have a secret for you. No one else knows this secret. Mommies and daddies, grandmas and grandpas, even older brothers and sisters, may not know this but you can teach them."
My voice would get even softer. Leaning in with anticipation, their noses nearly touching their criss-cross-applesauce knees.
"...Did you know the letter "A" has a crush on the letters "U" and "W"?!"
As red blush flushed their cheeks, they'd smile and laugh hysterically like a room full of Despicable Me minions, and I'd continue. "It's true! "A" thinks they're really something special! Every time "A" is next to "U" or "W" in words, guess what?!"
"...They say "Awwwww...."
Everyone would say it with me and I'd draw a big heart around these letters and we'd brainstorm words together like August and awesome.
And without fail, my secret trick worked!
They would be so excited to have a new secret, they'd go tell all of their friends at recess and family at home and have no idea their brains were actively retaining this new information.
Yes, whispers are powerful. Secrets are powerful.
But, it's not just five year olds. Whispers and secrets are powerful forces in our adolescence, teenage, and adult lives, too. Our ears - even our hearts and minds - have a tendency to listen to these ever-so-soft voices.
So powerful in fact, we must be alert - we must be on guard - to what it's saying and who is saying it.
One of my favorite shows is The Crown. I'm a fan of most anything based on a true story. I find the history intriguing and the characters fascinating.
There's one scene in particular in the last episode of the third season that gripped my heart. It hit me on two levels - the content and the characters involved.
In this scene, middle-aged Queen Elizabeth goes to her younger and heartbroken and devastated sister, Princess Margaret, after learning she had attempted an act that could have caused her not to wake up the next morning.
With no words to say, Elizabeth comes to her sister's bedside. She offers no shame, but instead lifts her sister's hand with tears welling up in her eyes. She softly kisses the hand of her younger sister as if to say, "I'm sorry you're hurting. I see you. I'm here for you."
She stands and walks to the end of her bed. In her proper and firm way of speaking, she says, "For the record, I think there are many things you are good at."
Margaret's quick with doubt, "Name one that's actually meaningful."
Elizabeth doesn't bat an eye. She calmly responds, "Being a sister... Of all the people everywhere, you are the closest and most important to me. And if by doing this, you wanted to let me imagine for one minute what life would be like without you. You succeeded."
Holding back the tears flooding her eyes, she continues, "It would be unbearable."
Choked with the sincerity and directness of her's sister's words, Margaret whispers back with tears filling her own eyes, "Then we must both carry on."
I've seen this scene before and it struck me as powerful then, too. The relationship between sisters is something, I for one, can attest. One of the greatest gifts in my life is my older sister.
Through years of friendship and trust, she has the unique and unparalleled position to speak into my life. She tells me what I need to hear, even when it's not what I want to hear. And, because I always try to follow in her footsteps, I do the same for her.
My heart feels the weight of one sister speaking unfiltered truth to another. It's powerful.
This time as I watched, I had a different perspective. Someone who was once dear to me is no longer here with us. It was a shock.
I received the news moments before joining a good friend for a walk. She understood the shock of this. All too well.
She lost her dad in a similar manner a few years before.
Our conversation grew from shock to a deeper level of compassion with each step.
We all hear suicide is on the rise. We hear it is skyrocketing during the pandemic. But, then it's someone we know, and suddenly, we realize the impact.
Later that evening processing the news with my sister, she helped me to see we're all told so many lies. Of these whispers that come our way, many are lies. They echo through our minds and trap us, making us believe we cannot overcome and convinced there is no other way out.
These whispers start subtle and grow into anxious and nauseating echoes.
But, friend, we get to choose what we listen to. We get to choose if we stay isolated, keeping this loaded secret to ourselves or if we step out in courage and ask for help.
We don't all have a sister who has this role in our life, but it may be a brother or other family member. Maybe a friend or counselor. Whoever it is for you, don't let these secrets stay hidden. Let's embrace our inner child, and share these whispers even though we feel the pressure not to.
That pressure to stay isolated and alone is not from God.
More than anything, I'm writing this for me today.
Lord, help me be aware. Help me see those you place in my path who are hurting, who are hearing these whispers and feeling consumed by the weight and heavy-burdened by the lies. Help me to not worry but to pray and trust You are sovereign.
Sometimes we think the least we can do is pray. But my friend, that's simply not the case. The MOST we can do is pray. When we pray, we step into their battle with them and stand in the gap on their behalf.
I don't know if you're hearing these lies yourself, or if you're like me and needing a reminder to pray for those who do.
I kept feeling led to write these thoughts down, but I felt a lump in my throat at the thought. I'm not an expert on this matter. I don't know what to say or how to say it. But again, those are whispers of doubt, not truth.
I sat down to write a few thoughts and this song came on. I believe God gave me this song as my prayer for those near to me and far from me alike who are needing to silence the lies and let the truth echo in their soul today.
You are my joy, You are my song You are the well, the One I'm drawing from You are my refuge, my whole life long Where else would I go? Surely my God is the strength of my soul Your love defends me Your love defends me And when I feel like I'm all alone Your love defends me, Your love defends me Day after day, night after night I will remember, You're with me in this fight Although the battle, it rages on The war is already won I know the war is already won Surely my God is the strength of my soul Your love defends me, Your love defends me And when I feel like I'm all alone Your love defends me Your love defends me We sing Hallelujah You're my portion My salvation Hallelujah... - Your Love Defends Me, Matt Maher
Let's find strength in His love for us. May He be the well we draw from for this love defends us from every tactic of the enemy. Let's find joy in victory - the battle rages on but the war is won. Let's find peace in remembering we are not alone. Not now, not ever. Let's rest in His presence. He is our portion and our salvation. Oh, how we need saving from the whispers we hear and the secrets we keep.
I encourage you to listen to this song and pray this over yourself and those around you today. Our world is craving relief. Our world is craving hope. Our world needs our prayers. Let's sing our prayers over each other today.
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!