I am grateful for moments when I have common sense, because so many people have none…ever.
I am grateful that my daughter questions and ponders and struggles to make decisions and seeks with all her heart. Her seeking is causing her to grow spiritually and emotionally.
I am grateful for summer wonderfulness: an ice cream sandwich. One of my most favorite things in the world. It can cure a hard day.
I am grateful for things only found in the summer: fireflies. Everyone should experience catching them on a warm evening, or at least watch their beauty just after the sun sets and just before the moon appears.
I am grateful for a few minutes on the phone with Anissa and Andrae this morning. I could listen to those little voices all day long.
I am grateful for the realization that my life has been fairly trauma/drama-free after reading the first of Cari’s file, and I am grateful that her story is breaking my heart before I ever meet her.
As I sat in the lobby at DCF (Division of Children and Families) this morning, I became very grateful for the lesson I am learning in real-time: that every face has a story, and I have no clue the hurt and the pain and the wounds that are behind the eyes, eyes that just need someone to care.
I like my routine. I like an egg every morning for breakfast. I like the same order at the same restaurants or fast food places. It’s a crunchy taco at Taco Bell. It’s a large iced tea, unsweet with five sugars please, at McDonald’s. It’s chicken with vegetables at Fortune Wok. It’s the same hairstyle, same shampoo, same makeup, same song, second verse. Day in, day out. Don’t make me try something new – I’m happy the way I am.
I am grateful for familiarity and routine, finding myself in a rut, because it is comfortable. It’s like being wrapped up in a warm blanket or like wearing my blue jeans on Friday. It feels good. It’s not comfortable to try something new – it’s scary. It’s nerve-wracking. My sister is so good at stepping out of the box and doing new things, trying new foods, making friends with people not like her or her upbringing. I am slowly learning to do this a little bit at a time.
I need to do better in this area with my relationships. I too often gravitate towards others who are just like me – we have things in common. But what do I learn? Nothing. It feels comfortable when they agree with me. They’re in my corner. But I gain absolutely nothing but a stronger defense and less understanding. I need to befriend others who have a different perspective. I need to prioritize understanding over defending.
I am grateful for a neighbor who is from Iran and has become a new friend. She is different than us. She reached out and we could have easily “put up a wall” but instead, we have learned her name, asked questions about her country and her travels. I am anxious to learn more. I am grateful that she is friendly and likes to talk.
I love this advice from one of my favorites, Jen Hatmaker: “Talk to someone who is older and wiser than you. Every year I get older, I become less of an ass. (horrors – she’s a pastor’s wife!) I will be a wonderful counselor in twenty years, for the love. We need mentors who know the value of compromise, humility, and compassion. The fervor of youth is a double-edged sword; it can be a mighty tool for the kingdom, but it can also wound and slice and destroy. Wisdom seeks out wisdom, not just affirmation.” I LOVE THAT! And her quote makes me think of Aunt Patsy, Delores, Dad, Danny – people in my life who listen and are slow to speak. I have noticed that as I get older and experience more of life, I am tending to be slower to offer advice, but I listen more, love more, and realize how judgmental I was. Condemnation has no place in my heart, and if I am to step out of that comfort zone of familiarity and routine, I must crawl out from under my warm blanket, take off my Friday blue jeans, and wear something new…
More amazing advice from Jen: “In general, nurture some friendships that are way outside of your normal parameters. Someone from across the pond, across party lines, across town, across ethnicities, across ideologies, across age groups. This requires effort and time, but it will make you a more gentle, more informed human. I love my niche tribe, but there is more to humanity than us. I have a deep and varied friend roster, and I cannot even measure how much they’ve changed me. The diversity of ideas, experiences, and perspectives they have brought into my worldview has absolutely altered my trajectory. If all your friends are basically the same, you don’t even know what you don’t know. Southern Baptist pastor? Go make friends with a gay atheist. Then shut your mouth and do a lot of listening. Now we’re getting somewhere.” Oh my goodness, I love this woman and her boldness to speak what I have felt for years!
And finally, if I really want to work on getting out of my rut in this new world I live in, I need to work on humility. I need to be a Delmar, a Sam. That means, again, humbly listen to others and do less talking. I need to decide that with every connection made, every face I look into, I can humbly learn something. There is a story behind those eyes. I am not always right. And if I AM right, I don’t need to act like it. I am at my worst when I am not humble. When I put myself in line with who God is, I am free to be just a forgiven sinner who doesn’t always have to be right. Or understood. Or popular. When I place myself on that pharisaical pedestal, I have a lot to defend and protect, but when I place God on His throne and step off of it, I am free to just be ordinary, love Jesus, and that allows me to love people and make them my priority.
And with that, happy Friday and weekend, friends. Do yourself a favor and have an ice cream sammich with a friend. I’ll have that piece ‘o pie AND the sammich.