I Might Have Plucked Big Bird

I Might Have Plucked Big Bird

I think my struggle with worry might have started with Big Bird.

I was 5 years old when our local tv station had a special promotion. It was simple: If you watched Sesame Street for 5 days in a row and your parents sent in a special form from the newspaper confirming your viewing, you would receive your very own Big Bird feather. I mean they would send you ONE OF BIG BIRD’S ACTUAL FEATHERS!

Please! I was ALL IN!

I LOVED Big Bird, so the idea of having one of his ginormous feathers for my own sounded absolutely delightful! What a treasure that would be!

I watched dutifully all week long, pig-tails pulled tight in our wood-paneled living room (Hello, 70s!), laughing at Bert & Ernie and reciting my ABCs like a champion. And at the end of the week, my mom sent in the form. A couple of weeks later, an envelope arrived with MY VERY OWN NAME on it. Inside of it was the yellowest, biggest feather a girl could ever want! It was glorious!

It felt as if we had a special connection now, Big Bird and I. He probably knew my name and stuff. I could hardly wait to see him the next day so I could show him my feather (Because, 5  years old…).

My excitement was short-lived, though. I think it lasted for 3 entire minutes. Because it hit me: What if all of the kids all over the whole wide world did the same thing that I did? What if when I see Big Bird again, he is…(gulp)…plucked clean! Naked!

The guilt, people. I hardly slept that night, wondering if he was cold. I mean, can’t you just picture him sitting on that big nest of his, shivering?!

When it was Sesame Street time the next day, I was so happy and relieved to see that Big Bird seemed to have plenty of feathers! In fact, he looked exactly like he always had. (I didn’t think anything of it, because…again…5 years old.) 

Big Bird was safe and full of feathers. My guilt was relieved. I cherished that feather for a long time, before silly pre-teen me threw it out. (Foolish girl. Wish I still had it.) 

Even though I can see that memory clearly now with grown-up eyes, I still have a tendency to worry about things. And most of the time, that thing I’m worried about isn’t even very realistic or likely. Aren’t those the MOST FUN things to worry about?! The giant “what ifs.” The things we can’t control. The things that steal our sleep and peace.

There’s one thing, though, that helps me shed worry every single time: Sharing it. When I share my worries with people I trust, they are SO OFTEN able to help me put things in proper perspective. What is especially helpful is when I confide in people who follow Jesus the way I want to, with their whole hearts. Those are the people who remind me that Jesus is just ready and waiting to catch that worry. All I have to do it toss it over to him. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Did I share my Big Bird worries with anyone? Nope. I wish I had. How much better off would I have been if I shared my concerns with my parents? I’ll never know, but I imagine they would have been reassuring and kind. They would told me that he was fine, that he had plenty of feathers and that all was going to be ok. Instead of sharing, I stewed and tossed and turned, worrying myself to pieces.

So, if you have a worry or twelve today, share your concerns with someone you can trust. God gives us friends on purpose. And God gave us Jesus. Don’t ever forget about him. He’s the friend you can trust the very most.

Cast those cares, people! Trust Jesus with your worries. You’ll be so glad you did.

(And in case you’re wondering how the Sesame Street gang is doing these days, you can follow them on Twitter. You KNOW I do.  @BigBird)

 

Big Bird, Bert & Ernie, and Sesame Street are trademarks belonging to Sesame Workshop (formerly Children’s Television Workshop), New York, NY 10019. 

Paying Attention

Paying Attention

I was waiting in the car for my son to finish up at work when I noticed a woman get out of her car and walk over to a nearby restaurant. She didn’t go in, but waited right outside the door.

I didn’t think anything of it and easily went back to my phone to mindlessly scroll the minutes away.

I sensed God whispering in my ear.

Look again. Pay attention.

When I looked up, I noticed she looked nervous, almost jittery. She still wasn’t going into the restaurant.

You should pray for her. 

So, here’s the thing. I didn’t really want to. I wanted to go back to whatever had changed on Twitter in the last minute. I wanted to disengage my brain and get lost in the perfection that is Instagram. So, basically, I wanted to be selfish.

Ashamed of my reaction, I put my phone down and asked God to help her…to calm her down…to see her through whatever was bothering her.

Just then, a man walked out with an adorable little girl, maybe two years old. The woman and the tiny girl were SO HAPPY to see each other! The girl was quickly scooped up and smothered with kisses. “Aww, sweet,” I thought.

No one moved away from that spot, but stood there talking for a little while. The woman was just beaming! I bet the little girl was her daughter.

Feeling like some sort of stalker watching a private moment, I went back to my phone. A few minutes later, I looked back up just in time to see the woman gave the little girl one more kiss and hand her back to the man. As he took the little girl back into the restaurant, the woman, sobbing, turned away and headed back to her car. The look of pain on her face was absolutely excruciating. It was like watching someone’s heart break right in front of my eyes. Before I could even get my seatbelt off to go talk to her, she was gone.

I can never know their story for sure, but I had most likely just witnessed some form of  supervised visitation. The kind where you get to see your child for a few minutes and not outside the presence of the other parent.

I sat for a while thinking about what I had just seen. I prayed for her again. So much pain, God. So much pain.

I was reminded of two things:

  1. There’s more heartache out there than I can possibly imagine. Private pain and unfathomable loss.
  2. Some of it is happening right in front of me.

I think it “feels” like I’m paying attention when I’m scanning the latest stories and headlines from my 6-inch phone screen. But how often do I actually engage with those stories?

If I were to just look up a little more often, there’s no telling what I would notice. There’s no telling who I could be reaching out to here, in real life and in real time. While it IS important to stay current and aware with issues that are more national or global, what a shame it would be to ignore people who are living out their struggles right in front of me.

God puts people in my path every day who need him. They need the grace and mercy I’ve so undeservedly received.

God, help me to pay attention.

 

 

Jesus at the Red Light

Jesus at the Red Light

I guess you could say that I “had myself a come-apart,” as they say in The South.

I had just dropped my Mom off at her condo after visiting an Assisted-Living facility she was considering moving into. She may need the kind of help they offer sooner or later. We’re trying to check out our options now, before there’s a real crisis.

The facility was lovely and the people there were completely delightful and kind. Mom had done well touring the place and asking questions, even though I knew her memory problems were making it hard for her. Overall, it went WAY better than I had expected.

But once I got into the car to head back home, I could feel the tears welling up. Like a tiny snowball of grief rolling down a hill, I could see it coming, growing larger and larger. By the time I made it to my first red light, it was a full-on grief avalanche. Ugly. Cry.

The tears and the grief weren’t about the facility…truly, it was wonderful. She would receive great care there. No, they were for the fact that Mom even needs to look at a facility like that at all. The grief was (IS, if I’m honest) about the changes I’ve seen and the ones that are likely to come.

I am not a fan of change. I am not what you might call a “good adapter.” I’m more like, “Can’t all of the good things stay just the way I want them forever and ever, thank you very much.”

Changes, especially hard ones, like a kid going off to college or a parent showing subtle signs of dementia, make want to put my fingers in my ears and sing “La, la, la, la…I can’t hear/see/feel you!”

Meanwhile, back in the car…

Now, I know Ugly Cry and driving do not go together, so I prayed, “God, please help me calm down. I can’t drive home like this.”

And it was as I was wiping the tears from my eyes at the red light that I saw it: Jesus.

In the same way you might see “Wash Me” scrawled in the dirt on a car, someone had written “Jesus” on the white van in front of me. A great big JESUS.

I stared at it for a moment and a calm swept over me as I was reminded of something…Someone…who will never change.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus will never change.

He will always be with me, even when hard changes come.

Even when I have ZERO interest in adapting.

Even when I Ugly Cry and wish things were different than they are.

Even then, Jesus stays the same.

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This is my contribution for Five Minute Friday, a weekly linkup of writers who free write for five minutes on an assigned word. Our word for this week: Adapt.   More-FMF-Square-Images-36