Anyone who has ever spent time with me knows I can think of a song to fit whatever situation I’m in at the time. I guess this is why I’m so good at the game "Name That Tune." I've seen many variations of the game over the years, but they’re all based on the same premise. A portion of a song is played and the person must name the song. So, how about it? Do you think you can win a round of “Name that Tune?” Since you’ll only be reading a portion of the lyrics and not hearing the music, I’ll give you a hint: It’s a song associated with this time of year.
“You really are a heel. You’re as cuddly as a cactus; you’re as charming as an eel.
You’re a bad banana with a greasy black peel!”
Who thinks they know the song? I know one person who will recognize this song – my dad. He and I have always enjoyed singing this song (which makes me wonder what this says about the two of us!). Now that I've piqued your curiosity and sent you to Google, the name of the song is “Mr. Grinch.”
Although the Grinch wasn’t chronically sick, I think we can all understand the inclination to hide far away from people who can potentially hurt us. Many people don’t understand what it’s like to suffer continually with an illness, which can cause them to say hurtful, thoughtless things to us. After so many times of dealing with hurtful comments and attitudes toward us and our sickness, we sometimes isolate ourselves to keep us from further getting hurt. The problem with this is that although isolation can protect us from getting hurt, it can also separate us from people who genuinely love and care for us.
In Philippians 4:1, Paul tells the people of Philippi that he longs to see them because they are his joy and crown. In verse three, Paul says the Philippians are his true companions. As I studied this passage I discovered something about verse one. I’ve always thought this verse was peculiar. How can people be a crown? I always guessed it meant they were special to Paul, like jewels in a crown. Although I’m sure the Philippians were special to Paul, that’s not what Paul was saying. The word he uses for crown is stephanos. This word was created after Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was killed. It means “that which surrounds; to encircle.” So when Paul says the people of Philippi are his joy and crown, he’s telling them that they surround him with their love and bring him joy, even though he is in jail. Now those are friends worth having!
Notice that even though Paul was in jail (and he didn’t have the internet or a cell phone) he still managed to have true friends. It wasn’t his location that determined whether or not he had friends. It was his attitude and his willingness to be vulnerable with others. Paul was transparent. He allowed others to see his happiness, as well as his sorrow. It was because of his willingness to be hurt by others that he was blessed with such remarkable friends.
Christmas can be one of the loneliest times of year. As you prepare for Christmas, ask yourself if you’re as cuddly as a cactus or if you’re blessed with a circle of friends. If you’re as cuddly as a cactus, remember that not all people will misunderstand your illness and what your life is like. And if you’re blessed with a circle of friends who surround you with their love and joy, keep your eyes open for someone who’s as charming as an eel. Chances are they need a friend.
“And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:3