“I have crossed the horizon to find you. I know your name. They have stolen the heart from inside you. But this does not define you. This is not who you are. You know who you are”
As some, or perhaps many, of you may know, my mother
was hospitalized in the middle of December. For several days my Dad and I watched as doctors and nurses did everything in their
power to try to understand exactly what was going on. We waited for test after test to give us some kind of answer, but we usually ended up with more questions than answers. It was absolutely terrifying as my Mom’s condition worsened and no answers were coming.
We did finally get some answers and my Mom was discharged from the hospital just in time to celebrate Christmas at home. It was a very quiet Christmas for my family. However, it was perhaps the single most meaningful one we have had. My Mom’s hospitalization made us reevaluate our priorities. Instead of doing things just to get them done, we did things because we wanted to do them together as a family. We baked cookies only because we wanted to and we decorated only because we wanted to. Christmas Eve was a beautiful celebration of the birth of Christ as a family and the Christmas Morning was filled with love and joy. It was indeed very special. However, this reprioritization of Christmas for our family is only the beginning.
My family and I have had an incredible opportunity to do a lot of reflecting in light of my Mom’s hospitalization. For our entire lives we have let everyone else define who we are. We have allowed the expectations of others to dictate who we believed we were as people. We have allowed our identities to be stripped in the name of serving others and, because of this, we have been hurt: physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. My family is now at a crossroads and we have no choice but to radically change how we live our lives so that we can be holistically healthy to do what God calls us to do. What a lesson this has been for me and my family. I thank God that my Mom is doing better and I thank God for this second chance in our lives.
It can be easy to get bogged down in the woes of life. It can be easy to hear and see what happens in our world and get so utterly discouraged and feel so completely hopeless. It can be easy to consume so much of what society tells us is true that it becomes our story, or worse, God’s story.
The words I began this article with are actually from the Disney movie, Moana. I love this movie and if you have not seen it yet, I highly recommend it. These words are the lyrics of a song Moana sings toward the very end of the movie. After answering the call of the ocean to restore the heart of Te Fiti, she finds herself on the very island where Te Fiti is supposed to be.
However, she is not there. Moana quickly realizes that the monster guarding the island is, in fact, Te Fiti, who has been transformed into rock and fire because her heart has been taken. Moana sings this song to Te Fiti as she barrels across the bottom of the sea to approach Moana.
The lyrics of this song are simply beautiful and the metaphor could not be more apt for our current era. Have “they” stolen the heart from inside us? Perhaps. From the 24-hour news cycles to our addiction to social media and the stress of tomorrow, we allow our hearts to be stolen away by everything we prioritize over God. However, these things do not define us: the news does not define us, our Instagram accounts do not define us, our to-do lists do not define us. What defines us is the One who crosses the horizon to find us, the One who knows our name, the One who knows who we are. This is our identity — this is our story.
Our God loves us so deeply and so wholly and all we are called to do is to reflect that love into the world. Our identity and calling is to be an ambassador to the Kingdom of God — to show what it could look like if we all loved each other for the person they are and live together in peace and reconciliation instead of hatred and revenge. Our identity is one of the light, peace, and hope that dwells within and among us.
This is what we need to focus on and claim as our story instead of the darkness that seems impenetrable in our world today. We can shine a light into the world by reflecting God’s love for us. By sharing a smile with someone at the grocery store, saying hello to someone on the street, or asking someone how their day was and listen to their story, we can show the world what the Kingdom of God really looks like.
This past December was an incredibly long month, but I truly believe God entered into our lives in the time where we needed God most and opened our eyes so that we may see what it means to be a child of God. This year we all have a decision to make. Are we going to allow what society says and does define who we are? Or are we going to allow God’s light and love to define us and shine in the darkness and usher in the love, hope, and grace of God?