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When You've Found Your Miracle, Help Others Find Theirs

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

This Christmas is going to be my best. It’s true that many people romanticize the Christmas season and hope they’ll have the best one ever. Perhaps we think everyone in the family will behave and get along this year, or that the gift we’ve always wanted will be under the tree. But so often, we are disappointed when Christmas finally comes around.


This year, I can say with absolute certainty that regardless of what anyone does or doesn’t do, and regardless of what will be under the tree, this will be my best Christmas ever. The reason is simple: I’m alive.

2022 will go down in my personal history as my scariest year yet. While it’s true my wife and kids came out of the Covid years unscathed. And it’s true that thousands of homeless and underserved people came through our doors at Los Angeles Dream Center, to gain hope, housing, jobs, and mended relationships. In all respects, it actually seems like an absolutely fantastic year for my family and my colleagues. 

But then, in an instant, three strokes hit my brain and almost took my life this spring. The miracle that I’m still alive will mark 2022 as a turning point for me. Some people say they’re living on “borrowed time.” For me, I’m realizing more than ever that I can turn the miracle that happened for me this year into someone else’s miracle.

Marie is someone who teaches me how it works every Christmas. Marie lived in fear all her childhood years with an abusive father. The trauma from her past consumed her and she turned to drugs to cope. She came to us broken and full of fear that had led her into 18 years of addiction, crime, and brokenness. It was her husband who encouraged her to get help. 


Long story short, Marie has now faced her demons. She spent weeks and months rebuilding a healthy lifestyle and avoiding destructive behaviors, and she is now mentally and spiritually stronger because of her decision to seek help. 

But even after moving back home, Marie never cut ties with us when she got back on her feet. Instead, she and her family come every year, don the hair nets of food servers, and help serve the more than 20,000 people who will come through our doors this season.

Marie’s miracle shows me that I, too, can turn my gratitude for being alive into acts of service that become little miracles for thousands of other people. 

In the Christmas story, I often stumble through the cringe-worthy part, when the innkeeper refused to give a room to the expectant couple. Little did he know that he was missing an opportunity to bless someone who would change history, and millions of people would know about it. That’s not how I want to be remembered.

Yes, I experienced anguish in one sense, but I also experienced a miracle. Simply being alive has put my whole life into perspective, and I’m committing this Christmas to help others find a new lease on life too. 

This Christmas won’t be the best because of what others do, or what we receive. Christmas becomes the best ever when we turn our own miracles into a miracle for someone else, like Marie and her family do.


This is the perfect season to look back on all the good things that have happened to us. To think especially about how we’ve made it through this past year. In gratitude, when we make our own miracles turn into a miracle for others by reaching out to help them, we give ourselves and them the best Christmas ever. 

We all have the power to make someone’s miracle happen. We just have to be willing.

Matthew Barnett is the co-founder of the Los Angeles Dream Center and senior pastor of Angelus Temple. The Los Angeles Dream Center is a faith-based non-profit dedicated to transforming the lives of individuals and families in Los Angeles through residential and outreach programs.


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