I ate at a restaurant all by myself last night. This is a huge thing for me. I ate at a restaurant all by myself last night FOR THE FIRST TIME. Going through a drive-thru and sitting in the car with a radio as my companion does not count. I sat at a table, ordered a meal, and ate all alone, ALL BY MYSELF. It was awkward, it was quiet, I didn’t know where to focus my eyes, it was uncomfortable at first, and yet it was wonderful.
And on top of that, when I walked in, I was greeted with, “Hi Rhonda!” by the bartender/hostess/let me see you to your table lady. And when Jonathan, my waiter, came to the table with chips and salsa, he said, “How are you doing this evening, Rhonda?”
I cannot begin to express the elation I felt in being known. I wasn’t Delmar’s daughter, Angela’s sister, Sam’s wife, Karissa’s mom. I was Rhonda.
I am Rhonda.
My imaginary good friend Jen Hatmaker posted this on Monday, and I have read it, re-read it, and think I want to turn it, or part of it, into wall art for our new home.
“Many people between the ages of thirty and sixty – whatever their stature in the community and whatever their personal achievements – undergo what can truly be called a second journey. The second journey begins when we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the morning program.” ~ Brennan Manning
Just a reminder to you today, dear ones: You do not have to be who you first were. As long as you are still breathing air, you have permission to change, shift, take a whole new path, unpeel a long-held label, embrace new ideas, take a crazy risk, drop some old baggage, turn the page, turn the corner.
You may discover around our age that you can no longer live according to the morning program of your life, AND THAT IS OKAY. That early version of yourself, that season you were in, even the phase you are currently experiencing – it is all good or purposeful or at least useful and created a fuller, nuanced you and contributed to your life’s meaning – but you are not stuck in a category just because you were once branded that way. Just because something WAS does not mean it will ALWAYS BE.
It may be time to change the program for the afternoon portion of your life. Maybe everyone knows you a certain way, in a certain ideology, in a certain job, or in a certain tribe. More than likely, there are many wonderful elements to that place and you in it.
Something doesn’t have to be bad to be over.
But maybe that season has given you everything it has to offer; it shaped and developed you, it stretched and inspired you. You’ve deeply incorporated its lasting values, and this place has been true to you and of you. Even then, you STILL have full permission to move forward or move on to something new, different, surprising, or risky.
Here’s to the afternoon program, friends. May we be bold enough to embrace it ourselves and gracious enough to allow our people to embrace theirs.
The picture at the top is a lotus flower. It lives on the patio that belongs to my boss, and she sent me the picture yesterday morning when she was outside watering plants. She told me that the lotus flower emerges from dark, murky water and opens up with the morning sunlight.
I am grateful for my boss who sends me a picture of her lotus flower.
I am grateful for my co-worker who brought me a gardenia from her garden.
I am grateful for Jen Hatmaker and even though she is my imaginary good friend, I am fairly certain she knows me and knows my story.
I am grateful for Tracey and Jonathan at Tequila Harry’s who brought some joy into this new independent adventure last night and grateful that they remembered my name.
And I am grateful that my world, once void of flowers in the morning program, is now filled with them everywhere I look.