I am in a season of transition. Fall, if you will. Leaves are detaching from the branches and I am feeling a little bare. So many things have changed in my life, some are really beautiful changes, and some are incredibly hard. We think fall is beautiful because the change is slow and dramatic, but then all of a sudden the first snowfall comes and all the leaves are on the ground and the trees are left exposed. Winter comes far too quickly. There is so much change. I don’t like it. Every year I write about how hard fall is, yet I never learn to be ready for it. In these seasons I am hungry for truth and guidance; I am almost desperate for it.
Through this I am learning that Scripture is exactly what we need and rarely what we want. Really. One morning I woke up with a craving for Scripture. I thought, “I’ll read this and it will tell me what I want to hear. It will confirm what I already know (that I am right and everyone else is wrong).” Guess what? It did not do that. It taught me that it should be my glory to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11) and that those who love purity of heart and gracious speech will have the King as their friend (Proverbs 22:11). Scripture told me that I don’t get to sulk in my anger, that I don’t get to gossip and try and make myself feel better. Scripture called me to a higher standard.
I woke up to what I thought was the sound of the boys who live above me; I started to wonder if maybe they had taken up skateboarding in their bedroom because of this whooshing sound that shook my walls. Turns out it was the wind, whistling and rattling the trees at a surprisingly disruptive volume level. I got out of bed, came and sat on my couch and as I spent some time journaling I also watched the wind pummeling the tree outside my window. I watched as the wind threatened to steal the leaves right off of the branches.
Meanwhile I was processing life as of late and making discoveries with Jesus. I have been reading Love Lives Here by Maria Goff (book recommendation of the week) and she talks about how different she and her husband are. And she says that they have learned to laugh about their differences. I started to think about my own relationships, and how often insecurity and comparison keeps us from just owning our strengths and weaknesses and laughing about our differences. I wrote about how if only we could be confident in who we are and aren’t, then we could deal with our differences and laugh at them and love each other without fear or comparison.
You were a rollercoaster! So much has happened and I am incredibly grateful for you. At the beginning I was not so sure; I told people it felt really old, maybe because it was more syllables than any age I’d been before (or will be, for another nine years). Or maybe it is that when you start inching closer to 30 something happens inside you. Like all of a sudden some of those life goals or hopes that you have kept stuffed in the back of your mind start pushing their way to the forefront, and things start to matter a little more than they used to. Each passing year makes me hold my days a little more tenderly, knowing there are (I know it is morbid) less and less left.
But the days were beautiful and full of surprises. When I rolled up to my 27th birthday party in that sassy romper and lipstick I had no idea that a year later I would be living in a different home, have a different job, and have traveled practically around the world.
We don’t get to do things for the first time all the time. As we age, there are less and less chances to do something for the very first time.
I’ve now gone indoor skydiving (see Instagram), I’ve been baptized, I’ve tried sushi. I have gone on a friend-cation to Mexico, I’ve had a Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit, I’ve seen a concert at Red Rocks. I have kissed a boy, ridden a horse, lived on the east and west coast, and seen a sunset in Nicaragua, Hawaii, and Canada. I’ve been a bridesmaid, graduated from grad school, skied down a mountain. I’ll never do any of those things for the first time ever again.
But I am about to experience a whole lot of firsts. First 12 (or 14) hour flight, first time to Dubai and Africa, first time taking 14 college students out of the country. First time being out of the country for three weeks. And who knows all the other firsts we are about to experience?
I wake up with that familiar pit in my stomach. Anxiety sits on my stomach like an overweight toddler, waking me up from my sleep. And then God’s voice says: Who are you inviting to sit at your table?
Oh wait, Fear and Shame, how the heck did you two get a seat here? You didn’t. You actually weren’t invited. You show up uninvited all the time. You come in like loud, obnoxious children – acting like you own the place. The worst kind of party crashers.
But this is my table. My mind. My heart. I don’t actually want you here.
“In church on Sunday we participate in a liturgy – a ritualized way of worship – that we repeat each week and by which we are transformed. Even those traditions that claim to be freeform or nonliturgical include practices and patterns in worship. Therefore, the question is not whether we have a liturgy. The question is, ‘What kind of people is our liturgy forming us to be?’” (Liturgy of the Ordinary, 30-31)
I’m reading this new book (if you need a recommendation here it is), Liturgy of the Ordinary. It takes the daily activities of our lives (waking up, brushing our teeth, eating leftovers, checking email, etc.) and transforms them into spiritual practices with deep meaning. Overall, it is a reminder that every small part of our lives is important. Everything has meaning.
I’ve been particularly struck by the quote above, specifically the final lines: “The question is not whether we have a liturgy. The question is, ‘What kind of people is our liturgy forming us to be?’”
A few months ago a friend was dealing with a difficult situation. I won’t go into detail because it’s her situation, not mine (sorry not sorry, you nosey people!). It was one of those moments where I asked her how she was, and she just burst into tears like she couldn’t hold it all in one more moment. She explained the situation, and then talked about how in the midst of it everyone and their mom (my exaggeration, not hers) had an opinion about it. Isn’t that the way it goes? Everyone always has an opinion. And sometimes those opinions are less than helpful.
All she really needed was someone to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and probably a big glass of red wine. And a cheese plate. We always need a cheese plate.
A few days later, I texted her just to tell her I was praying for her, and added at the end: #imwith___ (insert friend’s name here. Anonymity is my specialty, ok?) Yes, this was inspired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogan. Don’t freak out.
Since then, I have loved this idea. No matter the situation, no matter what someone is going through, that is I want them to know above all else. I’m with you.
I’ve been sick this week (darn November colds), and so not a lot of energy to write. So here is something I wrote a little while ago, a prayer for my mornings. A prayer to cover my day, to help me begin well. Pray it over your Friday? I pray for today to be […]
The eleven-year-old sixth grader got into the car, slammed the door shut, and sat in silence. I tried to make conversation but she clearly was not having any of it. In silence, we drove to pick up her two younger siblings from their school. When we all arrived back at their house, she ran up […]
When life is messy and hard, when it seems like our world is headed full speed towards destruction, when fear is ever present, I think of the One who I follow.