Hey, y’all! How’s everybody doing? Hopefully you’re enjoying your first taste of summer. It was actually cold here yesterday – in June! I needed a sweater, and my neighbor brought over some homemade vegetable soup. Last week it was 93. Grab a cuppa something hot or cold, depending on what you’re thirsty for, and find a comfy spot to relax a minute. Small town life is just like I imagined, and yet completely different. Going to college has been just like I imagined, and also totally different at the same time. I’m sort of living in a bubble, I guess.
God sent me here to study, to meet people, to rehab a grand old lady of a house and to live a life far outside the bubble where I’d spent my entire life. Leaving the bubble can be scary, it can be exciting, it can be freeing. I’ve experienced each of these in turn as the days have slowly swirled me into a new flavor of life.
Franciscan University of Steubenville struck me as a Christian bubble from the very first week – kindness and joy I don’t see outside of here very often. Everybody holds every door for everybody else. Everybody smiles and says “Hi”. Everybody offers to help anyone around them who looks a little ‘lost’. It’s been an amazing place; all the beginning jitters melted away in the kindness bubbling out of the other students.
Sometimes bubbles are meant to give us intimacy. I had a friend once who would share a confidence after she would say, “Now understand, this is in the bubble.”
Then there are the just plain fun bubbles. Ever watch a toddler with daddy blowing bubbles in the yard? The joy is so contagious. It doesn’t matter what’s wrong in your life, hearing that toddler giggle in delight will improve your mood immediately. In spite of any current sadness or anger, it will bring a smile, even if you don’t want to smile! And if a dog is jumping and biting them, you’re going to laugh!
How about a bubble bath? There’s a bubble – thousands of bubbles – just for you! There’s a purpose to the fun, to get cleaned up from the grime of the day both physically and mentally. If the day has been really long, maybe you’ll close your eyes and soak in a tub full of bubbles surrounded by the warm glow of candlelight and let the stresses melt away in the softness.
Maybe you’re stuck inside a bubble. Maybe life has you stuck in some places you don’t really want to be. Maybe you’ve created some painful consequences from your own behavior, or maybe from things you neglected to do and now you wish you’d been more diligent. Break out of your bubble. You can do this!
Begin to take actions that will move you in the right direction. Move through the consequences, one foot in front of the other. You will eventually walk out of them, I promise. (Just don’t create any more!) Or begin a new adventure. If you’ve always wanted to write a novel, get a journal and start there every day. If you’ve wanted to grow a garden, start with a flower pot or window box. If you’ve wanted to play an instrument, swallow your pride and break out of the bubble with some lessons. I’m doing that with a flute lesson a couple of hours from now.
If your life is full of joy, don’t keep it inside your own bubble. Share it. People around you are desperate for someone to offer a smile, a kind word or gesture. Something as simple as saying “Good morning!” or holding a door can lift a heavy heart. Even if you are in a challenging situation, you can bubble over and splash on the folks around you with kindness, patience, joy and love. Remember that joy is not happiness, tied to temporary circumstances. Joy is anchored much deeper in good things that are true and unchanging.
Maybe you’re stuck in a bubble. You’re stuck in a dead-end job, an abusive relationship, or even in depression and despair. You don’t have to stay there! Come on out, I promise there’s real life out there. But how to come out?
Find a pastor or priest, and talk to them. Yep, come out of your bubble, but with someone who is trustworthy and can lead you to the ultimate bubble breaker, Jesus. He can break the bad bubbles, and replace them with little bubbles of joy and peace that grow if we’ll encourage them. If you’re out of bubble solution of your own, He has a vast supply in the heavenly warehouse. He loves to share.
So come on out of that bubble. Find the joy and bubble all over those around you!