Live Color Fully

today i am excited about everything.

The Big 3(0): Community

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. (Part I here.)

My 30th birthday was the very best day.

I know I say that pretty much 6 to 7 times a week, so it might be hard to take it seriously. But in between the army of pink and the singing telegram that spoke love and the princess pinata and the hours and hours of work that went into making the whole shindig go down, I looked around and realized (again and again): I am the luckiest.

It’s not easy to build community, to expose parts of your life and be willing to put in the time to live inconveniently with other humans. It’s especially not easy when you repeatedly move and start over, roughly every 2.5 years.

It matters, though, doesn’t it? This thing when you discern who stays close and who you only see once in awhile. This thing where…

you choose the people who are a part of your life.

This is something you learn a bit in high school, this whole “How To Choose Friends That Help You Make Good Choices Like Not Doing Drugs” thing. But in the rocky road that is less marshmallows and chocolate and more learning to live life, it becomes.. pretty damn important.

Important: they will be your family as you live far away from your family (more on that here).

Important: they are the ones who speak into your life.

Important: they will speak, and you will actually listen.

At 23, they are the ones who will finally give you the courage to walk away from that terrible guy. They will push you to trust what you hear in your spirit, the part that is truly you, and you will move. In Louisville, you will find the church again. You will feel what it is like to love your job.

There, your new community will tell you it’s scary that he gets so mad and yells. It’s not passion, they’ll claim, and they’re right. And maybe just make better choices about who you date. Sheesh. They will tell you that feminism doesn’t mean walking alone in an alley at night, unless you’d like to be a dead feminist. But it does mean speaking your mind, even at meetings where you are the youngest, even at meetings where you are the only one wearing color, even at meetings where you are the only female. They’re right (on all counts). And praise God, because you will need this later as you navigate the male-dominated ministry world.

And it’s not just the dating (failures). These are also the people who will tell you that when your Creator speaks, you should listen. And no, it’s not crazy to leave all this behind and leap into ministry. And later, they will help you walk through That Time Ministry Breaks Your Heart. You will want to walk away from your calling, but they will help you find the courage to stay.

They will tell you when you’re being stupid. And selfish. And… SIGH… impatient. Mostly that last one. Actually, always that last one.

They are gifts, these few. More than anything outside of the Words of Faith, they will communicate to you what you can’t see yourself.

We’re told: just listen to Self! Look within! Trust who you are! And those things are all nice and true often, right up until they’re not.

There will be times when you are so sure you’re right, and the thing is… you’re not. Sometimes, every so often, you get so buried in what you want that you can’t see reality. And during those times, which WILL happen, it will be crucial, crucial, crucial that you’ve chosen great people to be around you.

You know this now, because it happened to you at 23.

At 23, you almost drowned. Almost. You wanted something so bad that was so bad for you. And without your community, your life would look very different right now.

There will be people that come and go, but the few you choose to walk alongside of, the few you choose to listen to, those few… they are precious. They are life giving. They are Christ, to you.

We can’t do it alone. And (praise be), we’re not supposed to.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:9-10

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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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The Difference of Four Days

Wednesday, 3 PM

Sales Gal to E: Oh, is this your Mom?

Me: Oh, no! Actually, her Mom & Dad are out of town, so I’m watching her for a few days! I mean, I’m her Pastor at church, so in a WAY, she’s mine. But not mine like I’m her parent. More like, a cool Aunt, or way older sister. So, not my daughter. But kind of just for the next few days. So, yeah. I’m in charge of her.

Sales Gal: Oh. How… nice.

 

Saturday, 10 AM

Woman at Christmas Concert: Is this your Mom?

Me: Yes. 

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A Note to My Loves

(Written for Valentine’s Day. But you know, as par for the course, I’m running a bit behind.)

There is a reason I never write about what it means to be 29 and single (a rule I’m about to break right now, because you know, my parents raised me to reject any rule that’s stupid. So essentially, all rules not including the words “Don’t” and “Murder”): there’s too much to wade through.

Let me clarify- not internally. Internally, I stand with feet firmly planted on a rock a man could never quite occupy, though a handful have tried here and there through the years.

But outwardly, my friends? Outwardly, on the InterWebs and splashed onto the pages of books and in hushed tones in coffee shops, the amount of material on this subject is insurmountable. It’s exhausting.

The past few weeks have found me in conversations around this topic that have been heartbreaking, as men and women question their core identities in the face of what someone else has decided should be.

What someone else has decided for them they should be.

And so, it’s 2013 now and Valentine’s Day has come and gone- and while I’m pretty sure I’m not the very last single girl on earth, sometimes I wonder if I might be the very last single girl who’s okay with it.

My friends, my loved ones who live here and there and everywhere, who face a day of love and feel somehow less then, can I just say:

We don’t need a list of ways to better ourselves. We don’t need to thumb our nose at the beauty of love.  And mostly: we don’t need to wait.

There isn’t a magic to marriage. There isn’t a universal switch that is flipped that day, and from that point forward, life is interesting (or if there is, the married people are keeping a really tight lid on that one).

There is only magic in living into the now of your life. Your life. Not anyone else’s. Just yours.

We are wedded, my dear ones. Maybe not with a ring and a covenant (although those are sacred, lovely things), but we are wedded none the less. To each other.  In relationships that are life-giving and meaningful. That are human.

So why would we hate a day to celebrate The Greatest of These? Why would we feel anything less than perfectly formed for this time, in this day, in this now? Why would we let someone else define for us that we are less than- or not quite- or almost? We are full. We are living days that are pieced together in beauty and life, not lacking in sunshine or laughter.

And can I say? Live out the fullness of your life, right beside Your Creator, in beauty and truth and adventure and newness and familiar and fun and light. To wait a single moment for any of these things is to ignore the wildness and freedom life offers to you. That your Creator offers to you.

That is a gift, my loves. For all of us. Together.

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Thoughts On a (Few) Snow Day(s)

When was it, exactly, that life stopped any measure of transition?

Is it something that adulthood holds? Something that must be accepted along with taxes and cleaning and being in charge of Making All The Things Happen?

One week ago today I boarded a plane that swept me away from a hospital room that became my home, away from family and the sun, and back into a job and a snowstorm and Real Life.

There is no space between these things. No beat of being. They are shoved up right next to each other, overlapping, my heart squished somewhere in-between.

It’s unsettling, to say the least, to move from the methodical unrelenting beep of the heart monitor and into a job and then into the many, many conversations of a family full of girls.

I go, too fast now, because I can’t stop. Won’t stop. Must. Not. Stop. As long as I go, and go, and go some more, I can justmaybe make it.

I cry out, and the heavens weep with me, sending down snow and ice (which is beautiful, but does very little to soothe my wounded heart).

Or does it? The snow piles outside, and inside, my heart (oh so slowly) begins to thaw.

And there I am, buried somewhere underneath (I think). (I hope).

I breathe. I sink deep into the kindness of strangers. I sink deeper into the comfort of my Creator. I breathe again.

Adult life may not allow for transitions, but I remember again that I am (and always will be) merely a child wearing grown up clothes. 

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