Photos courtesy Bill Carroll
1. I can’t “shake it off.” I’ve got to write it down.
As a really late bloomer, if I don’t write it down, it’s gone. Hence, lists. One of God’s most repeated exhortations in Scripture is “Remember” for a reason. He knows how easily we forget. So when Emily Freeman from Chatting at the Sky challenged us to come up with our own list of what we learned in 2014, I had to really think, because the year was already slip, slipping away.
2. Life is bitter/sweet.
This year found me caring for (worrying about) aging parents, navigating life with (worrying about) not-yet-launched kids, and hanging in with (worrying for) friends in hard places. I was born a bouncing Tigger but fretting Piglet, sad-eyed Eeyore and irritated Rabbit are knocking on my door a lot. I’m learning that life is both/and/all at the same time. Sorrow/Joy. Longing/Gratitude. Regretting/Relishing. Every moment is hard/precious. I’m realizing life is not as it should be/but it will be.
3. Life is also simple/hard.
I’ve been studying Christ’s last words to his disciples in John 13-17. He keeps it simple as he prepares them for his death. “I won’t leave you alone.” “Abide in me.” “Love one another.” This is simple but not easy truth as I face faith-sucking situations and hard relationships. I’m not alone. He’s sent His Spirit to be my Helper to do what I can’t do: abide and love.
4. Clutter happens. Again and again.
Helping my parents downsize motivated me to declutter our house. It took a long time and felt great for about a month. And then the clutter rabbits began repopulating the drawers, closets, attic and garage. You mean I have to declutter again? It’s like weeding. Better when you do it more than once every few years.
5. Laugh whenever possible. Even at funerals.
Those who know me know I have a bad habit of laughing uncontrollably in inappropriate places. If the minister hadn’t said, “And as Helen Keller said….” and my son hadn’t looked at me and if we hadn’t remembered the joke at the same time, I would have made it through with all seriousness. In the words of Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”
6. Follow the tears.
Laughter comes easily. Tears not so much. So when they come, I take note. The things that made me cry this year were acts of courage or kindness. So, in 2015, I want to be blinded by tears as I see and do more acts of courage and kindness.
8. The Second Best Christmas Gift Ever
Jesus is the best Christmas gift. But Bill gave me the second best this Christmas. He’s a photographer and I love to walk with him and suggest shots and snap away behind him with my iPhone. This year, he gave me a “real” camera. But, more important, he gave me himself. He’ll patiently teach me the technical aspects and then help me slow down to see (and capture) the beauty in the brokenness with him.
9. Beauty matters. And so do those who create it.
This year, Gina Hurry and I launched InSpero, a creative community which brings beauty and hope to our city and churches through nurturing artists and providing venues to create together. Check out our latest blog at inspero.org to see the beauty that was created this Advent.
10. Live full out, you fool
What’s the alternative? Sadly, I know too well as I fight the fog of my half-life escapes like junk food and junk TV. When I start detaching from living full out, I come back to C. S. Lewis’ quote:
“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of our selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.…We shall all draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to God; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if God chooses this as a way in which they should break, so be it.”
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
So in 2015 watch out for a foolish, full-out, laughing, late blooming, still cluttered but courageous life.