SGLY: A Christmas gift

By Tiffany Chartier
Special to the Prosper Press

Today has not been my best day. Correction: this has not been my best year. Many can say the same. We rise and fall like our bellies taking in the breath of each moment. Some breaths are made of hearty laughs; others are burdened with words to which we regret ever giving breath. As much as we try to be patient and offer grace to others during this stressful time, we often fail and need to be reminded to be patient and offer grace also to ourselves.

As I drove to work, I adjusted the neckline of my bulky Christmas cardigan embroidered with holly and berries, thankful for a new day and ugly Christmas sweaters. I turned up my heated seat and the radio volume to ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ on the radio. Life was good. All was calm and bright. That is until my patience was tested.

I failed the test.

A small car being driven by a young driver with a big attitude whips in front of me head-on, blocking me from moving beyond a torn-up, one-lane road under heavy construction. She positions her vehicle’s nose directly in front of mine and lays on her horn, yelling at me to back up and let her pass. I am trapped. I cannot back up due to exposed rebar on the road and deep potholes. I must go forward. I am in the right to do so; I was there first.

Well, my “rights” did not make me right in my chosen thoughts and actions that followed. The young driver continues to lose her cool, and as her temperature drops, my Christmas spirit chills. We are both left with Grinch hearts “two sizes too small.”

The young driver eventually backs up. By the time I maneuver around her and safely to smoother ground, I could not tell you what song was playing on the radio or even the month – I was anything but merry.

Holiday choruses from the radio eventually return to me, and the weight of my cardigan melts the chill from my countenance. My face flushes in embarrassment at how quickly I had acted as ugly as my sweater. I did not recognize myself. Better put, I did not want to recognize that girl inside of me who acted contrary to who I strive to be. This morning I unraveled, giving pent-up stress an outlet that only further robbed me of my peace and pushed me beyond my tipping point.

I tipped in the wrong direction.

Parking my car, I did what I should have done weeks ago. I turned off the Christmas music and focused on Christ. I put my head down and closed my eyes, remaining still in the disappointment that I did not represent God in my thoughts and actions. I had relied on myself to filter my view, and because of this, my view was shallow and cold. I prayed for forgiveness and the healing of my heart. I prayed for the return of my joy, strength, and peace that only the Lord can provide. (And He is faithful to provide despite my stumbles.)

I did not leave the car until I read a list of verses I keep in my glove compartment (see below). This list has helped strengthen my spirit many times, and today was no exception. Today I was

humbly reminded that no amount of stress is worth losing your witness. Because of Christ Jesus, I can walk in grace and mercy and begin again. As much as it pains me to admit, this experience was a true gift to me this Christmas. I received a long-term lesson thanks to a temporary failure. In this regard, I am thankful for it all this year… the rises and the falls. With each, God has eventually positioned me beyond the potholes and on smoother, higher ground.

(1) Don’t invite yourself to every disagreement.

“It is a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel” (Proverbs 20:3).

(2) Don’t react in the heat of your frustration.

“A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult” (Proverbs 12:16).

(3) Gentle words are stronger words.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

(4) Don’t fool around with fools.

“Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you” (Proverbs 9:7-8).

(5) Avoid the snare of anger.

“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared” (Proverbs 22:24-25).

(6) Don’t be judgmental.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1).

(7) Forgive.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25).

(8) Live at peace, so far as it depends on you.

“If is it possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).

SGLY, dear reader.

Smile, God Loves You.

Tiffany Chartier

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier; Instagram:@tiffanysgly; and Twitter: @tiffanychartier. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.