We are More than the Sum

In the discipline of mathematics, the whole is always equal to the sum of the parts. Four plus two plus three will always equal nine, we can count on it (pun intended).   This concept holds true no matter how many the parts, it is predictable, reliable. We can count on the outcome.  This is a good thing.  Without it, I doubt we could have put a man on the moon.  But I don’t think this rule holds true in other disciplines.

Take a choir, for example.  You have your parts; soprano, alto, tenor, bass; throw in a piano, a director, the music (words and notes) of course, the singers themselves and anything else that might be thrown into the mix.  But when the choir sings, most often, the result will be something far greater than the sum of the individual parts, the individual notes, the individual singers themselves.  Because a skillful director will bring all the parts together in performance and the result will be something far greater than a simple sum, as voices blend and bring written music to life, letting it fill the air, bringing joy to those who listen.

Live theater is another example of the whole being considerably greater than the sum of its parts.  You start with a script, add in actors, costumes, lighting, a set, a director, blocking and the actual delivering of the individual lines of the play; but the result or sum total of all this coming together is much more than would be predicted by just looking at the individual parts.  In performance, the characters come to life and the audience becomes a part of the equation as they are ushered into the story and the very lives of the people who have come to life before them.  The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Even in a team sport, such as basketball, the coach counts on the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.  He counts on his team being better as a team, than are his players individually.  When the players combine their talents on the court, the result is more than simple addition would have predicted.  That’s when the magic happens and the unexpected occurs.  That’s what sports fans live for.

People are more than the sum of their individual parts as well.  I was reminded of this when I tried to compose an introduction for myself, for an online dating service.  How do you put a life on paper?  I found the process intensely frustrating, with no satisfactory solution.  In attempting to put a life on paper, something is lost in the translation.What is behind the words?  What is between the lines?  What is left unsaid?  The lines we write about ourselves, meant to define us, are the same lines which confine us, putting limits on who we are as we feel compelled to stay within the lines we have drawn for ourselves, or worse yet, the lines that others have drawn for us.

Is our resume the measure of our life?  We are more than our resumes. We are more than a list of our accomplishments.  We are more than a list of our likes and dislikes. We are more than the sum total of our cumulative life experiences.  We all have a story.  Actually, we all have many stories over time, woven together into the fabric that we wear as our life story.  We are so much more than meets the eye.  Like icebergs, most of who we are is not visible, but hidden beneath the surface, out of view, waiting to be discovered.  For each of us, our whole is greater than the sum of our individual parts.

What is our measure?  Where is our worth?  We are more than the jobs we do, more than the roles we fill, (parent, sibling, friend, neighbor, coworker, boss, teacher, student and on and on).  We are more than our relationships, more than our possessions, more than our activities.  We are more because our identity, our worth, is not found in these things. It is found in our Creator.  And because He doesn’t change, even though our circumstances constantly change, (jobs, relationships, health, finances, etc.),  our worth and value as His creation doesn’t change.  We will always be “more” because we are created in His image.  And we would do well to remember that each and everyone we share this planet with is “more” than meets the eye also, just as we are, because they too are created in His image.

We are more than our physical bodies, with the accompanying abilities or disabilities; more than our physical attributes, upon which our culture puts so much attention and emphasis.  Created in the image of our triune Creator,  we are body, mind and spirit.  These cannot be separated out, but added together are who we are, yet yielding more than can be explained by simple addition.  Even modern medicine acknowledges the connections between the three.  In attempting to treat our physical ailments, the effects of our mind and our spirit cannot be ignored.  They are inseparable, inextricably linked, each to the other.  Our experience of ourselves and others is a result of the interplay and interaction between our three parts.  This mysterious coexistence of our three aspects reveals the unique person that God created us to be.  We are more because He is always more than we could ever imagine or comprehend.  We are more because He is more.  We are more because we are created in His image.

“For God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”   Genesis 1:27

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”   Psalm 139:13-14

“what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.  You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet:”   Psalm 8:4-6

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”   Matt.10:29-31

There you have it.  We are valuable to God, our Creator.  That’s where our worth lies, where our identity resides.  We are more than the sum of our individual parts because He knit our parts together and because we are created in His image.  He created us unique, we are all originals.   When we seek our worth in other ways we will be disappointed.  But God’s love never fails.   take heart,  in Him we are more . . .

sincerely,                        Grace Day



Contentment-a rare commodity

“I can’t wait ’till I’m bigger,” my young student whispered in my ear.  This got me to thinking, why is it we spend our early years wishing we were older and our later years wishing we were younger?  Are we never content to be where we are in life?  Growing up we are always anxious to reach the next stage, gain the next privilege, such as a driver’s license, or to be tall enough to ride the roller coaster.  We are impatient and life moves too slowly for us.  Then, when older, life flies past us and we wish to slow it down. We spend our days waiting on our future to arrive or longing for our past to return.  In the process, today escapes us.  Contentment eludes us.

In Philippians 4:12-13 Paul spoke to this issue when he said, “. . . I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” We are not a culture that practices contentment, we always want to be where we are not or to have what we don’t have.  We haven’t learned to be content in all situations; employed or unemployed, single or married, young or old, rich or less rich (since by global standards even the “poor” among us are richer than most of the rest of the world just by virtue of living in this country.)  When we are in school we can’t wait to be graduated, when we are out of school we think about going back, thinking life will be more satisfying perhaps if we study something different.

Our constantly changing hair colors could be a clue that contentment continues to elude us in matters both large and small.  We find ourselves endlessly in pursuit, but in pursuit of what?  Until we know the answer to that question,  we are not likely to find peace in the moment.   “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  . . . Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  (Matthew 6:27, 34)

Worry and strife, the thieves that rob us of our todays and leave us discontented and empty.  Worry about things that may never come to pass steals our peace and keeps us from fully living in the moment.  It’s amid the mundane moments of our every day lives that the profound emerges, popping up when least expected.  We must be fully present to recognize, engage and enjoy the profound amid the mundane or she will be gone before we realize she had made an appearance; an appearance transforming an ordinary day into an extraordinary one, making clear what was cloudy for the briefest yet brightest of moments.  But only for those able to behold the appearance of the profound amid the mundane and bid her linger.

What was “the secret” Paul said he had learned?  To trust in God to strengthen him.  Trust and worry cannot coexist, they are mutually exclusive.  We are either doing the one or we are doing the other, we can’t do both at the same time.  We can choose.  If we are worrying we are robbed of contentment.  If we are striving for what we feel we lack, we are not at peace.  We don’t have to live in a constant state of discontent.  That was never the plan.  Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  (John 10:10)  Nothing lacking there.  “You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”  (Psalm 145:16)  “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  (Psalm 37:4)

With our Creator are peace and contentment.  “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.”  (Isaiah 26:3)

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  (John 14:27)

To live content is to live free;  free from worry and constant striving.  Free to live today fully instead of wishing it away.  May you rest content in God’s peace and provision.

sincerely,                            Grace Day




Holding Hope

While hope be held in heart or hand,                                                                                                I dare to dream of good things planned,                                                                                         sustained by a promise yet to be,                                                                                                      it is enough, I need not see

the promise fulfilled ’till its time has come.

But when dreams die hope follows after,                                                                                       leaving empty the bright space once occupied so fully, so completely,                                 by promises of what was to come,                                                                                                   promises, such good company,                                                                                                         such comfort and companion, hope,

I feel her absence abiding constant,                                                                                             my new companion sadly lacking.                                                                                                   such a space to fill,                                                                                                                               where hope once lived,  filling full, sustaining, reigning,                                                           making bearable the wait,  more than bearing, caring for and carrying me through days of endless wait, of dreams deferred; being the wings that bring me safe to the hoped for destination,

hope bids me soar and makes it so,                                                                                                  when circumstances would say no;

hope’s home now empty,  the crushing weight of her vacant space requires more of me than hope ever did, this weight I cannot carry on my own.  Who would have thought it so?   Hope carried me when I held her,   but her absence I cannot abide, it is too heavy for my soul to bear.  I will hold onto my mustard seed,  see my mountains moved.

I pray Hope’s empty home again be filled,  and with her presence filling full and flowing free,  the weight of her absence washed away, leaving me weightless in my waiting,  I  wait with hope for hope’s return.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  (Hebrews 11:1)

“We walk by faith, not by sight.”   (2Cor. 5:7)

“. . . those who hope in Me will not be disappointed.”  (Isaiah 50:23)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”   Romans 15:13

sincerely and hopefully,                Grace Day




The Walking Wounded

There are a lot of walking wounded among us.  Perhaps you are one of them.  I know I often am.  Though we may not be recognizable as “the wounded” to each other or to the casual observer,  we are, nonetheless, walking wounded in this world, walking wounded through our days, unnoticed and untreated.  Whoever said, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”,  was seriously wrong.   But whoever said, “the pen is mightier than the sword”,   clearly understood the power of words, both written and spoken.  Words are weapons,  we must wield them with the utmost care and consideration.  Words have more power than “sticks and stones”, more power than knives or guns. “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”  (Proverbs 18:21)

Words are a weapon we all have access to and a weapon we all possess in equal measure.  However,no background check is required for this most lethal of weapons, as it is to obtain a gun of any kind.  Because words have more power than we realize,  word wounds are deeper than those wounds inflicted by fists, or knives or bullets.  Word wounds target the heart, word wounds break the heart and destroy the soul. Word wounds may be invisible to the eye but the effect is real and the result can be deadly.  The broken hearted are all around us, but we do not see them.  They walk invisible among us, hiding their hurt on the inside.  We see clearly those “walking wounded” with physical wounds; the cast on the arm, the crutches, the bandages, the wheelchair. All these outward signs signal us to give special consideration, to take special care of the injured person.  We notice the signs and treat each person as their needs dictate, we make a special allowance for their condition.

Not so with word wounds.  Those wounds are invisible to us because they are on the inside.  Internal wounds are more painful, harder to treat and harder to heal.  Also, because the word wounds are internal, we don’t recognize these “walking wounded” as we encounter them in the course of our own daily walk.  They are invisible to us because their wounds are invisible to us.  So we don’t treat them as they need to be treated.  We don’t make any special allowance.   Wouldn’t this be a different place if we recognized our fellow “walking wounded” and “held the door”, so to speak, for them?  Gave them that extra measure of kindness reserved for those who are clearly hurting?  But usually it is not at all clear,  we are masters at hiding our pain, hiding our wounds.

We’ve all been the recipients of word wounds and sadly,  we’ve also been the assailant, wounding others with our words.  “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.  My brothers, this should not be”.  James 3:10  Sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintended, we are the one wounding another with our words.  But if words can wound, they can also heal.   “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”  (Proverbs 15:4)  “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  (Prov. 12:18)  “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Prov. 16:24)   So, this isn’t a new idea, the healing power of words.  It’s been known,  we just need to put it into practice.  Our words will either tear others down or build them up, wound them or heal them.  Every time we open our mouths to speak, we have a choice.  Such power, and we don’t always handle this God given gift very well.

We can use this power to promote peace as well as healing and reconciliation.  “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  (Prov. 15:1)   Don’t we experience that almost every day in our own interactions with others?  “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Prov. 25:11)  “A man finds joy in giving an apt reply-and how good is a timely word!” (Prov. 15:23)  Our words matter, they make a difference to us and they make a difference to others.  A positive difference or a negative difference, the choice is always ours to make. There are many things in this world we can’t control, but we get to choose our words.  “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:37)

Why is there such power in the spoken word?  Perhaps because it has been so from the beginning of time.  “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”  (Genesis 1:3)  That’s right, God spoke everything we know, everything we see, all of creation into existence.  He spoke and it came to be.  There is power in God’s Word, both spoken and written.  Always was, always will be.  “For the Word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  (Hebrews 4:12)  “so is My Word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  (Isaiah 55:11)

“Your Word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.”  (Psalm 119:89)  “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever.”  (Isaiah 40:8)  God’s words are both powerful and eternal.  Since He created us in His image it stands to reason that He equipped us with words as well, and that they would wield as much power as they do in our lives.  And there’s more.  In Matthew 4:4  we read, “Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”   Food sustains our physical bodies and enables us to grow.  In the same way, God’s Word nourishes and sustains our minds, our hearts, our very souls, enabling us to grow in love and mercy, in grace and in kindness, faithfulness, peace;  into the fullness of the person He created us to be.  Yes, there is power in God’s Word.

Consider this, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  (John 1:1,2 &14)  The Living Word walked among us on this earth for a time.  Jesus spoke and people were healed.  Jesus spoke and the sea became calm.  Jesus spoke and five barley loaves and two fish fed five thousand people.  Jesus spoke and Lazarus walked out of a grave.  Words have power because our God is the Living Word.

This war of words continues to be waged around us each day, and we ourselves are participants whether we like it or not.  While there are some defenses against physical weapons, such as taking cover or a bullet proof vest,  the most common defense against hateful words seems to be a hard heart developed over time.  While the vest can be removed when no longer needed, hard hearts seem to remain.  Hardened hearts while impervious to unkind words, are also more resistant to the healing powers of kind words.  I don’t want to live in a world of hard hearted  people, I see the results of this every day.  We all do.  We are all the “walking wounded” to one degree or another.  And yet we keep on wounding each other.  Our words have power.  How will we use this God given gift?  Will we use words to hurt or to heal?  Will we use our words as weapons of destruction or as instruments of peace?  The choice is ours to make every day.  May we choose well.  Our lives depend on it.  It is the difference between brokenness or wholeness, division or unity, cruelty or kindness, death or life.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, to that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Col. 4:6)

sincerely,           Grace Day




An Indomitable Spirit

With the Olympics in full swing, this seems a timely topic,  mankind’s indomitable spirit.  It’s knowing the stories of so many of the athletes as we watch them compete that makes the Olympics more interesting, more personal.  It seems each athlete has sacrificed much to be where they are now, each has had many obstacles to overcome, each has faced adversity and won.  To me, it seems, they are all victors already, just by virtue of being where they are.  They are winners before they ever step onto the field, court, track, arena or dive into the pool.  They have persevered and they have prevailed. They are there.

I don’t have to wait four years however,  to be inspired by and to witness an indomitable spirit in those around me.  It is there for me to see every day if I will but take notice of the people I come in contact with every day.  If only I knew their stories, I would realize what they have been through, what they have dealt with and what they have overcome just to be where they are in the moment in which I encounter them. Everybody has a story.  But our stories most often remain unknown.

My exercise class is a good example of a place where I see this “indomitable spirit” lived out on a daily basis.  We have a wide range of ages, from the 40’s all the way to some individuals in their 90’s,  we run the gamut.  Needless to say, those in their 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s are an inspiration and encouragement to us all, just by being there on a consistent basis.  Often, in many circumstances, just showing up is a victory in itself.  I think of one woman who came in spite of her Parkinson’s, which made it progressively more difficult for her to do the routines and another who came until she could no longer drive herself to class.  Another comes faithfully and sits on a chair to do the routines, moving her arms (with weights) and feet to the music and steps of the exercises.  Another young woman comes despite her M.S., which the casual observer would never suspect that she has.  All are daily overcoming their obstacles to good health and a more fulfilling life.  They are an inspiration because they exhibit courage on a daily basis.

Overcoming adversity comes in many forms. It looks different in each individual life. But there are some common threads, shared by all  who refuse to give up, to give in, to quit showing up even though weary.  Adversity can bring out the worst in us or the best in us, it depends on how we respond to our challenging circumstances.  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”  (James 1:2-3)   Perseverance, a common thread necessary to reach any goal.  “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

It is precisely the hard times, the difficulties, the trials, the challenges in our lives that make us stronger and prepare us for what will come next.  Adversity refines us as it forces us to change, adapt and grow.  Without it we would stagnate, instead of growing into who we were meant to become.  We can have hope during our darkest and most difficult times, knowing that God will not only bring us through but change us for the better in the process.  He does not give up on us, therefore we should never give up on ourselves.  “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”  (Lam. 3:22-23)

“. . . let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Hebrews 12:1-2)   We each have a race to run, a race marked out for us, which will look different than the races others are struggling to run.  A race that is ours alone, a race different yet the same in so many unseen ways as the races those around us are running.  We face common obstacles and we face those obstacles unique to ourselves.  All contribute to the refining and defining of our character unless we avoid them or run from them.  A life of ease and comfort would present no opportunity for the indomitable spirit  that lives within each one of us to grow and shine out into this world.  I have seen peoples’ indomitable spirits shine brightest in the darkest of times.  It’s what enables people to rebuild after a natural disaster or come together after a terror attack.

I will be inspired as I watch the Olympic athletes and hear their stories in these next few weeks.  But I will continue to witness and be inspired by the people I encounter every day, living their lives with quiet courage and a smile.  The ladies in my exercise class have something very important in common with the Olympic athletes, perseverance.  That spirit that never gives up, that keeps on showing up, that beautiful, indomitable spirit.  YOU GO GIRLS !

sincerely,          Grace Day