Hope

The election, the holidays, and a mouthful of praise

I’ll admit: the holiday season can put me on edge. But this year it’s not just the frenzy of festivity that looms large on the horizon. The countdown to this election is a wee bit stressful as well. Can I get a witness?

So this past week I’ve been amping up my “peaceful practices.” One of my favorite ways to color myself calm in the midst of stress is to tell stories of God’s goodness in my life. Like this one….

My friends Cara and Melissa have entered into our family’s food-allergy-ridden diet and cared for us in ways that have brought me to tears on more than one occasion. They’ve actually cried with me when I’ve shared how food allergies can isolate my son Jeremy in social settings. They’ve thought in advance of an event where Jeremy might feel left out and have prepared food for him so I didn’t have to. They’ve stocked the kids’ class at church with the one “candy” Jeremy can eat so he has a treat like the rest of the kids. Not only that, but when I’ve thanked them through tears for all their kindnesses, they’ve said, “You guys are family, and Jeremy is so special to us.” I cannot begin to describe what a balm to my heart these precious friends are.

This practice is so simple, yet so sweet. By describing to someone God’s goodness to me, my own heart is cheered, quieted, and strengthened. I literally feel my whole body relax. I experience a calm and joy that are a direct result of sharing my appreciation aloud.

To quote the incomparable Lewis:

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.

Body, brain, and soul, we are created to enjoy what is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, excellent, and praiseworthy. (See Philippians 4:8.) But we live in a world that celebrates duplicity, death, anger, shame, and self-worship. To give voice to God’s beauty in my life helps me overwhelm the darkness with light.

So here’s an idea for us as we enter into the holidays and count down to this election. What if between now and November 8 we take time each day to tell a detailed story of God’s goodness to us? We can share with someone via phone call, FaceTime, audio message, or best of all—in person!

There’s another habit similar to story-telling that also helps calm my anxious heart. In his book Transforming Fellowship: 19 brain skills that build joyful community, Chris Coursey tells of how he and his wife practice “3x3x3” before falling asleep at night:

First, identify three things from your day that you feel thankful for. Give examples and take turns sharing. Next, identify three qualities you appreciate about the other person. Last, name three qualities about God you feel thankful for. I am struck by the simplicity of the exercise, but I feel grateful for the results! We feel better, lighter, calmer and safer.

(And to state the obvious, you don’t have to be married to do this. Find a friend or roommate who also needs this kind of peaceful, grateful encouragement!)

Dear one, in one way or another let’s keep talking about God’s loving kindness to us. Let’s overwhelm anxiety with appreciation. Let’s drown out the din of doomsday predictions with a mouthful of praise.

Because God is that good (and He’s got it all figured out).

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1