My Dear Ivy,
Here we are on Christmas Day of the year 2020. With this 25th and final letter in the series, I want to let you in on the point of this whole exercise.
We’ve talked about a lot in these letters: making wise decisions, connecting and empathizing with people, holding onto and growing your self, creating and sharing, daring to dream and to pursue your dreams, giving and forgiving.
You need to understand something, though. All of that – everything you do, everything you say, everyone you meet – is taking place in a broken world. A world of unmet needs. A world in which some things are just . . . off, and in which too many people are overly invested in keeping them that way.
The entire point of Christmas is about one single, all-important thing: fixing the brokenness. A life well-lived should be about the same. That is the point of these letters.
There are a lot of ways God describes himself – a lot of analogies and examples He uses to illustrate parts of His nature: humble names like Shepherd and Servant, auspicious names like Lord and King, even inanimate names like Bread and Light. Each of these are names He gives Himself, among many others.
My very favorite, though, is when He describes Himself as a healer.
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.”
We are currently facing a global pandemic. Many of our earthly healers are giving their all – more, in some cases – to stem the tide of a disease that is surging in many locations. Relationships are strained and loved ones are separated by a vast gulf – unable to see each other without risking illness and possibly death.
In the face of all that, at a time like this, the picture God paints of Himself as the Great Physician is especially meaningful.
On this Christmas Day, as on every Christmas Day, we celebrate and honor the ultimate Healer, who made Himself vulnerable, who put Himself between others and the thing that ails the world, who took on Himself the disease that separates God from those He loves, and who ultimately gave His life so that those who were separated could be restored to each other.
And so I ask of you, once more, to do for others what has been done for you – to pass on the rich gift Christ gave you in offering the healing gift of Himself.
I ask you to give the gift of yourself in that same way: Not to give up your self, but to give of your self. It’s important to note that in coming to earth, Christ didn’t sacrifice who He is. He didn’t stop being the all-powerful creator of the universe when he was born as a baby that first Christmas. Rather, it was precisely because of who and what He is that He was able to accomplish the reconciliation He sought. He didn’t sacrifice who He is . . . He sacrificed because of who He is.
As someone who has been offered this incredible gift of a personal relationship with the Creator who made you in His image, I ask the same of you: not to give up who you are, but to give because of who you are.
What I’m asking here isn’t nearly as onerous as the gift Christ gave. I’m not asking you to bear the entire weight of this world on your shoulders.
I am, however, asking you to seek to be a healer of that which is broken.
You’ve entered the world at a particularly divisive time. People in our country and all over the world have disagreed about a lot of things, sometimes violently, and some for a really, really long time. But at this point in history, it seems, we are at risk of losing our consensus around some of the most basic, axiomatic truths of human existence. There is a time for arguing about these things on principle. There is a time for taking a stand for what you believe.
. . . and there is a time to seek healing, instead of simply seeking to be “right.”
There are many things worth less than being right. But there are some things that are worth more. A fair number of those things – love, empathy, growing, learning, and meeting unmet needs – are precisely the things I’ve talked about all throughout these letters.
Being right is well and good, but seeking those things is better. Remember, as I said at the very start of these letters, that “people are more important than ideas.” You can have some of the best and most accurate ideas in the world, but people – some of whom, remember, are in a position to need your help – are more important. Instead of sacrificing those people in the name of “good ideas” or “being right,” seek to heal people and the widening rifts between them. Seek to meet needs where you can; to empathize with others; and to share of your own time, energy, and ideas with those who are open to it.
Seek to be a healer. Seek to offer the gift of reconciliation and relationship – just as the Great Physician offers to you.
That’s it – that’s the point of all of it: Seek above all else to bring healing to the broken people and relationships that pass through your life in this world, as Christ seeks to bring healing to the broken world itself.
As with all the rest, you won’t succeed all the time. Neither have I. Neither have any of us. Your offerings will be rejected, at times. There will be occasions that you forget, or are too tired, or overwhelmed, to sustain the offer of healing. There will be times when the lure of proving a point or “being right” is strong enough that you prioritize that instead.
That’s ok. Give yourself the same empathy and forgiveness you cultivate toward others. Give what you can, when you can.
And again, don’t try to own the responsibility for all of it yourself. Yours is to open the door to relationship, healing, and reconciliation to those around you. Theirs is to walk through it, if they choose. Do what you can, leave the rest to them and to God, content yourself with the results, and take satisfaction in a job well done, and a life well-lived.
And know through all this that I love you, and I will love continuing to watch you walk this journey – regardless of how much or how little of the advice in these letters you take to heart. Because of all the people in all of my entire life, one of the relationships I value the very most is the one I share with you.
I love you dearly. I love you fully. I love you always.