Live Color Fully

today i am excited about everything.

The Big 3(0): You

A short series where I write about the three BIG things I’ve learned before 30, in honor of my new decade and turning the BIG 3-0. Which, by the way, happened recently, just in case we’re not friends in real life and you missed the 97 reminders I gave you. So.

At 20, I was just realizing that I didn’t know it all.

It’s a bummer, isn’t it? To exit those glorious…ly awkward and wonderful teen years, where you know everything about everyone about everything. And then it’s on college where it turns out you know…

  1. A bit about Shakespeare, from that summer where you read all of Shakespeare’s plays for some reason.
  2. Sort-of how to do laundry.
  3. End of list.

So, nothing. Enter the 5 stages of grief.

The good news? By 30, that grief will just be a distant memory, replaced by 147 jobs in 152 cities (rough estimate), with more friends and lost loves than any human should be un/lucky enough to have. The amount of things that will be packed into the next 10 years will be ridiculous, in the truest, realest sense of the word.

It will turn out you don’t have to know it all. (Thank you, God.)

But you must know you.

Not because of a self help book that shouts at you from a bookshelf. Or because it’s kind of trendy to sit on a mountaintop in the cold somewhere in high in the sky and consider who you’d like to be. It’s simply because The Creator who pieced and poured and knit you together, did that for a reason. If you don’t know you, it will be devastatingly difficult to know what that reason is.

Because at 30, it will turn out that you’re not a famous opera singer. Praise be to the One who made you, 20 year old girl.

You think you want that, but you just don’t know you, yet. It turns out that you love early mornings, and you hate late nights. This will be awesome when you’re trekking towards (oh so many) early morning hospital visits, and watching the sunrise as you study words that you will impart to the sweetest of forming spirits. And you love crafts! Glitter! Foam board! All of this will make you want to sing songs of joy when you enter Hobby Lobby. Literally. Songs of Fricken’ Joy.

You’re creative, it turns out, and not as administrative as you want. And that’s fine, because people will still hire you to do things. In fact, they will hire you to do things you’re actually good at, and they will let you not be good at details. THANK GOD, because you’re really tragically bad at details. And keeping schedules. And To Do lists. And… not spilling things and turning off the stove and closing cabinet doors, and… so very many things. The list of things you’re terrible at will grow and grow, and you will still be okay. When you figure this out, it changes your life.

You learn how to feel again, and cry- and cry- and cry some more- this decade. You will no longer be forced by some unknown power within you to pretend things are fine, always. And although you’re sure it will make you weaker, in one of life’s great mysteries, it strengthens your spirit. You learn to love and serve in ways you don’t know are possible right now.

And while others are at home with children they have birthed with sweat, blood, and tears (a lovely experience, I’m certain), you will be in the homes of others, late into the night, flinging playdoh and footballs, and stroking hair as you speak blessings over the smallest sweet spirits. You are teaching them: I love you. Your church family loves you. God loves you.

It will be the inexplicably the greatest gift you ever get to give, in your 30 years.

And it couldn’t have happened at 20. When you were so sure you knew The Things. All The Things.

There’s more of you and life to know, I’m sure of it, around the corner and across the street into the next decade. But here, at the intersection that reads “30” from both sides, knowing the free-spirited 29 + 365 days version of you is enough.

Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. John Calvin

I desire to know God and the soul.
Nothing more?
Nothing whatever.
St. Augustine

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Every Hour

At night, now, I follow a routine.

I mean, sort of. Routines are definitely not my strong suit, as I basically feel more alive in change and new then I ever will in the familiar.

But- there is a sense now, at 29, of a routine. Things out of order, maybe, or in different combinations as I multi-multi-multi task, but the same things: brushing the teeth, flossing (especially now with the recent claims that it adds 4-6 years to your life-eek!), running my fingers through my hair to check for any unwanted visitors (ie stickers, leaves, small children), round cotton balls that carry with them to the trash the day’s (many) coats of mascara, warm socks over abnormally small feet, and lotion over shoulders, elbows, hands and an increasingly wrinkled forehead.

The wrinkled forehead I love- years of laughter and raised eyebrows while fiercely listening to children reflected in deep crevasses stretched from temple to temple. Deep, to hold deep, full love.

But the arms, people.

As I smooth white over my arms each evening, I feel my limitations. I feel how thin skin is stretched tightly over a mess of muscles and blood and a pile of bones, somehow holding in breath, and deeper still, a free spirit. I feel-

I feel-

I feel the fragility of life.

I want to escape, in these moments, to find someone else’s story to cling to. To turn on the TV, or music, or reach for a favorite book, to drown out these moments with something loud, something different, something noise.

But I trust in my Creator, something I’m still learning to do at 29, and I lean in. I remember that fragile is not the same as hopeless. I feel the darkness, the stillness of the moment and I don’t scream into it with light.

I am quiet.

And tomorrow, with the (always faithful) rising rays of the sun, I will carry with me my moment of stillness. Living life intentionally- on purpose- is hard, and I need to remember why.

We don’t have forever, here. We’re not meant to have forever, here.

The moments of light and joy are beautiful, and so are the moments of dark and hope. They exist, side by side.

To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle. Walt Whitman. 

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Ganesha, A Clock, The Cross

I sank into the worn leather chair, noticing the streaks of dirt sliding down faded walls. My head swiveled back and forth, looking for… a dog? rat?… something that had left angry looking teeth marks on the edge of the small table holding an assortment of old magazines. In the corner, a statue of the god Ganesha, an orange blinking clock, and a small wooden cross.

“Your car will be ready soon.” His voice cut through the sounds of the cartoon coming out of a small TV.

“Okay- thanks so much!”

A pause. My words weren’t true, as it wasn’t okay to be giving up time or resources- neither of which I have to spare- to something that wasn’t living, breathing.

“You’re a Pastor.” A statement, made in thickly accented English.

“Me? Sort of, yes.”

Another pause. A character on tv shouted out a catch phrase, and a hollow, robotic laugh echoed it.

“You know things about the Bible.” This one, not a question either.

“Umm, I know things. Some things. Do you have a question?” I bit my lip, and my inadequacy stretched out almost visibly between us.

“Is there a word in the Bible for… uh… dark night of the soul? A word that means… a dark place you are in? Not dark like…” he mimed turning off the light… “but dark like…” he dropped off here, furrowing his brow as he searched for the right words.

“Dark like- heavy? Hard? Broken? Alone?” My words tumbled out, lips moving on their own accord.

Our eyes met.

His, dark and deep, speaking strong words of pain, somehow screaming. Silently.

My own, filled with tears.

“Yes. Like that.”

I stood from the chair, and made my way to the counter. My brain twisted and twirled, trying to compute a google-esque answer. My hand covered his.

“I don’t know. Honestly. I don’t know if there’s a word. But… I think, there’s a poem. Written by Saint Thomas, or someone. Can I look it up and bring it to you?” inwardly, I cringed at the emptiness of my words. He looked away, somewhere above my head.

“But- it does mean something. I mean, it exists. The idea of it. A… spiritual crisis. Unanswered longing. Or- journey towards God, becoming more like Christ. The pain of that. The pain when… there aren’t easy answers.” My words come faster now, the pitch of my voice raised. I strain, trying to remember a lecture from a college class, 9 years ago now.

He closed his other hand over mine, silencing my stumbling speech. “Does it end?”

There’s nothing to say in return. I changed the question.

“It’s not pleasant. But it’s not hopeless, either.” Inside, I turn a corner, and see the door I should have stepped through first.

“Could I…? I mean, would you mind if… Can I pray for you?”

He nodded slightly, meeting my eye. He offered no new information, but it doesn’t matter. My brokenness meets his, and surrounded by fluorescent lights and the smell of gasoline, we stand before a Creator. My mind finally stands still, my spirit racing ahead to lay prostrate.

There is a Holiness breathed into this moment.

We break, feeling the awkwardness of intimacy, and the bells dings as I step outside. The sunshine makes my eyes squint, adding to the wrinkles that are stubbornly forming.

I reach my hand into the earth, pulling up a small rock to slip into my purse pocket. Something to hold this moment, to build my growing altar of thanks, to release my inadequacies to a fully adequate Father. A Father who (maybe) (sometimes) resides here.

Just outside the walls of The Church, inside a small business off of Metcalf.

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Fearless

http://weheartit.com/entry/22023761

(I’m still trying to learn this):

More than once I’ve packed my way-too-many possessions into large plastic tubs and started over. And although it doesn’t really get easier, there are new favorite cupcake places and best friends and unforgettable nights waiting right past that “I’m new here” stage.

I no longer sit practicing deep breathing in my car, willing my arm to act independently and please.God. open the door and drag the rest of me into a place filled with strangers.

There’s always that moment- that shuddering moment where a choice must be made.

A choice between tucking in, and clenching the jaw muscles and pushing forward.

A choice between living a little, or living fully.

There’s no trick to it. The only thing stopping you-me- any of us?

Fear.

It’s Fear, with its blackened teeth and dirty fingernails, smelling of rotting fish and day old diapers, creeping around the corner and threatening the freedom that adventure brings.

There’s an art to living that requires (more than) a bit of fearlessness.

And- I’m only speaking to myself now- the moments that I let fear win, when I can’t muster the courage to try, I miss out.

There’s no way around that, or over it, or under it.

To live passionately, to embrace the beauty and fullness of life, to run hard after a Creator who can dream so much bigger than me, is to punch fear. In the face, probably.

And walk away giggling, arms linked with Fearlessness. Who I’m just getting to know, but I see the wind blowing through her long hair, and her fingernails? They’re hot pink.

Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience. Paulo Coelho.

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The Year Of Passionate Living

So, a few (*cough* 2) months ago, I turned 28. 28, years, old.

And truly, it was fine. Other than 25, I’ve loved each birthday. Older women often smile knowingly as they pass along that as women age, we just grow into our existing skin. We become more ourselves. I’ve heard the rumor that it gets even better at milestone 30, so let me just say: Bring It On.

On my birthday each year, as only the product of two teachers can do, I choose something I want to learn. Not in the “fly a plane” or “speak the native tongue of the Pecheneg people” strain, but more “live in the moment” (24) or “hold life with open hands” (26) or “value community most” (18).

This year, in the midst of recovering from surgery and weariness, I fought for contentment. I struggled to be okay with the turn life had taken over the past few years. I read books and magazines, I journaled, I drank tea, and willed my turmoil to stop, Oh God, please.

And? Nothing.

The truth is, I’m not sure we’re always meant to be content. That churning we feel in the depth of our spirit was put there by the Creator who built us out of nothing. We’re not meant to squash it, to hush it into submission until all that’s left is a dull numbness.

We’re MEANT to feel that.

Because when we strive for contentment in that way, we change the meaning of the word. We change ourselves.

Not that all contentment is bad, but I’m not sure it should be used as a synonym for “lazy” or “cool with the crazy that’s happening”.

Or “boring”.

Or “stagnant”.

Contentment is maybe a little more about finding the joy in your life, and holding that with both hands.

So for this year, the only year I’ll ever have as 28, I reject contentment. I choose Passion.

So, here we go, 28: The Year Of Passionate Living.

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