Mara Hodler is a freelance writer. This article was adapted from a podcast on Just1Thing, a Christian character-building website for young people.
I killed our van. I was driving along at the peak of summer—and also at the peak of rush hour—completely lost. In the middle of crawling traffic, my air conditioner stopped working. I thought it was just bad luck that I was stuck in traffic and my car had no AC, so I did what I often do when things are going wrong: I powered through.
Whenever I log in to Facebook or load a news website—or when I glance at the newsrack at the checkout—it seems there are always some really ugly things going on, and I find myself oscillating between anger and despair.
As I scroll through my social media feeds, there are comments like, “This is so sad!” or “I hate that this is happening!” While I agree with those statements, I can’t help but feel that they’re a bit useless. How does saying that we dislike catastrophic issues help the people whose lives are being turned upside down because of them?
One of the movies I watched the most often when growing up was Man of La Mancha.1 It seemed that every couple of months, some parent, youth group leader, or teacher decided it was time for a rerun. I’m not a huge fan of musicals, but I do have a soft spot for this film.
I wasn’t born a citizen of the United States of America. Earning the right to be here was a process. I had to fill out piles of forms, spend hours on the phone with officials, pay a hefty sum, get fingerprinted, and have an interview to determine if I indeed met the requirements to earn residency. And, yay, I did! That was a happy day!
Most of us are familiar with the phrase “Love never fails.”1 It’s illustrated in children’s devotionals. It’s woven into songs, stories, and poems. I can’t remember a time when this scripture wasn’t familiar to me.
In my younger years, I took it to mean that love was always strong enough to get what it wanted. “Love” held the trump card and could somehow get its way. I guess I had a somewhat manipulative idea of love. I thought it could outsmart, convince, reason and persuade to encourage whatever results were necessary.
I’ve always thought Prince Jonathan, the son of Israel’s first anointed king, is an amazing example in the Bible of honor and integrity. Think about it: he was logically expected to succeed his father, King Saul, as king—but the prophet Samuel anointed the boy David instead.
Now, if I were in Jonathan’s position, I think I would have succumbed in one of two ways. Either I would have become consumed with envy, feeling that I had been dealt an unjust hand. Or I would have not cared about the affairs of the kingdom from then on.
Do you ever wonder if you are doing what God wants you to do? As in, what’s that purpose you were created for? What is it that you’re meant to do that will give your life meaning? I’ve wondered those things, and I still do sometimes. These are the sort of big questions that we don’t always easily find the answers for.
The movie Shenandoah is set during the American Civil War. It’s a moving story of a Southern family caught up in the conflict of the day. The patriarch of the family, Charlie Anderson, continually shuts down the urges of his sons who want to join the war. Charlie wants to remain neutral and uninvolved until the war actually touches his family.
I was thinking about Easter the other night when a line popped into my head: “He did not leave my soul in hell.” It sounded like a Bible passage, but I wasn’t sure. Neither was I sure if the writer was referring to Jesus.
I would like to say I pulled out my Bible and flipped to the passage, but no, I pulled out my smartphone and googled the phrase. It was in the Bible, and you can find it in Psalm 16: “You will not leave my soul among the dead.”1
A friend of mine told me that when she was young, even though her family was close and they loved one another very much, fairness was always an issue. She said that when her mom brought home a pie or ice cream for dessert, she and her brother fought over who got the bigger piece. The quibbling over dessert portions was so stressful for her mom that she kept a scale near the dining table and literally weighed out each plate of dessert to make sure it was even. That was their family policy for years.