A Contagious Comfort

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. - Psalms 63:3

[Author’s Note – I realize talking about faith can be touchy, emotional, offensive, and just plain uncomfortable. But I’m slowly finding this to be true of most things worth discussing. I share this post (and everything on my site, honestly) not to convert or offend anyone, but to offer an anecdote of encouragement and comfort fueled by the God that makes my heart pump and my soul sing. If you ever have questions, prayer requests, or even want to yell at me about a faith concern, you have my ears! Feel free to message me through the Contact page. Sending my love; enjoy!]

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  - 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4

Four of the last five funerals I’ve attended were for people under the age of thirty. At that time, I was stunned by how quickly car accidents and illnesses had unraveled a lifetime of plans for Matthew, Taylor, Marcus, and Vanessa. Aside from a greater appreciation of life’s futility, another long term effect of these deaths is my increased (and arguably excessive) passion for celebrating birthdays. Furthermore, I am persistent about learning the birthday goals of loved ones. I imagine my friends and family assume I’m being nosey and pushing my goal-oriented nature on them. While that’s partially true, I’ve also built a habit of praying over their aspirations for the new year. 

Back in the day, my passions were simple – birthdays, bacon, and rollerblades.

Last month, I celebrated my 27th birthday. I thoroughly enjoyed my birthday, which featured a surprise karaoke party (fervent Mariah Carey performances included), tons of sweet texts and phone calls, a decadent chocolate cake iced with vanilla frosting and garnished with pink princess accessories, and quality time with those who have made Chicago feel like home. During the week, I caught up with a friend over the phone. She knows me well, so we were only around 10 minutes into the conversation when she asked the long awaited question – “So, what are your birthday goals?” I quickly shared the goals I had been ruminating over since my surprise party. Admittedly, I mentioned that one of my goals is to stop comparing myself to others. In response to my goal, she replied,  “I”ll send you something on Instagram that is relevant to that goal.” I looked forward to checking my DMs later to see what pearl my wise friend selected to share. To my surprise, it was a quote by a well known Christian pastor, one of my favorites. This particular leader didn’t share a Bible verse or a cheesy quote smothered in fluffy Christianese. It wasn’t even a profound quote, but it was simple, straightforward, and shareable. I find it worth sharing that the friend who sent me the inspiring post is not a Christ follower, but she obviously felt moved enough by this man’s words of inspiration and comfort to share them. The day after my birthday, our state, along with many others, was placed on a Stay-At-Home order, and I watched in helpless disbelief as parades, events, and restaurants were cancelled and closed indefinitely. 

I didn’t think I had a favorite pre-quarantine restaurant meal, but on my birthday I learned that it is indeed lasagna.

The shared Instagram post may not seem like a big deal at all, but this is not the first episode of friends finding comfort and wisdom through the word of the Lord (and through his people). In dental school, I listened to one of my professors monologue about her daily routine, and she (culturally Hindu) shocked me by telling our group that she often listens to Christian talk shows and radio on her commutes sometimes because, as she described, “they just make me feel good”. An old college friend (who has professed atheism) once showed me a few Christian songs on his ipod. When I asked why he had them, he shrugged nonchalantly and replied, “I don’t really get what they’re singing about, but I like the songs and the message is nice.” Lastly, I caught one of my oldest friends humming a tune I recognized immediately as one of my favorite Danny Gokey songs. When I asked her about it, she responded, “I just like the song and it’s a good tune to mellow out to.” I found it so uncanny and yet so characteristic of the Father to weave the same music with His message into so many hearts, regardless of where they stand spiritually.  Similarly, all of these experiences were woven together by the common thread of God’s comfort and the peace of Christ, which supersedes all human understanding. 

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:7

I have written this post from various closets of the hospital where I’m completing my dental residency, and at home. I won’t sit and pretend I have not experienced chest-crushing anxiety when I brainstorm all the ways I may be exposed to coronavirus through my work, commute, or even grocery trips. In the midst of this pandemic, at some point I stopped searching for solutions and instead have simply tried to seek comfort. Now that I am on a rotation schedule at the hospital, I have woven myself in a self-made security blanket of snacks, comfy pants, Disney +, and a solid schedule of Facetime calls in between work from home tasks. My favorite birthday gift by far was a care package full of emergency toilet paper sent by my parents all the way from Texas. I’m quickly learning, however, that though I may find small bites of comfort in some things, my ultimate and most powerful source of comfort is in Someone.  Whether it’s through a cute video, song, scripture, or even an instagram post, I find my comfort at a simple, straightforward, shareable source – Jesus.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  -Psalm 23:4 

This week, I donned my hot pink mask, packed my city shopping cart, and strolled through one of my favorite stores. As I weaved  through the least crowded aisles, my eye caught the periphery of something entirely unexpected. I slid across the store to confirm that my eyes were not deceiving me. There, on the shelves of Target, was a whole shelf half stocked with toilet paper. I had my choice of brands, number of rolls, and even ply. I promise I didn’t cry, externally. 

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. -Psalms 119:50   

I’m almost embarrassed by how viscerally I reacted to those pillowy, plastic-wrapped clouds of comfort. Somehow, shelves restocked reminded me of the life restored that is promised to us by God. Every morsel of good news, be it a flattened curve in a city or a simple act of kindness has reminded me that this too shall pass. As reassuring and re-humanizing as it is to brainstorm the list of things I want to do once this pandemic season has passed, I am steadily training my heart to rejoice in even better news, and that is that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He loves everyone who hates him, those who want nothing to do with him, those who are curious about Him, and He loves you and me. Through Him, we have comfort not only in what is coming, but in Who we have access to right now. To paraphrase a line from my favorite red-headed pop star (yes I’m allowed to quote Ed Sheeran), we found love (and thus comfort) right where we are. In this season, my new birthday goal is to rely on His love, a comfort that is simple, straightforward, and shareable… sort of like a nice roll of toilet paper. 

May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. -  Psalms 119:76 
Sending socially distanced hugs to all ❤

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