A friend of my sister’s once told her you must grieve everything. Anytime you have to say goodbye to something, someone or some place, grieve it. When you’re in a transitional phase in life, this can mean a lot of goodbyes. To things like: college, your first job, your apartment, your hometown, another town, another job and before after and in between, relationships. People are in and out of your life before you can blink and get their phone number.
We’ve all said, “I don’t want to get my hopes up.” Whenever the possibility of a good opportunity is in sight, or you start dating someone new, or your boss hints at a job promotion, our reaction is often to not get our hopes up. It seems smart, right?
What Interesting People in Your Life are You Ignoring?
I recently traveled to Israel and Turkey. I was away for two weeks and saw many famous things: the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, the Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, the Wailing Wall. But what I’ve thought about most since returning from the trip is not these sites, each incredible in their beauty and in their stories, but a conversation I had with the guy next me on the plane from New York to Jerusalem.
I remember the most malnourished children I’ve ever seen. I was in Zimbabwe on a mission trip, and our bus had broken down somewhere between Victoria Falls and Bulaweyo, the second largest city in the country. The whole group climbed out of the bus to kill time on the side of the road while we waited for repairs to be made.
I was that kid who climbed a tree one day with a pillow in one hand and a book in the other so I could sit on the branch more comfortably to read. I would lie–not jump–on my trampoline alone and stare at the sky and think whatever important thoughts I had at age nine. I had what my mom called “an active imagination” and I exercised this muscle often. I would catch myself daydreaming in class all the time. Listening to a sermon was nearly impossible. Over the course of those 20 minutes my head had been in so many different places I would worry I had been talking aloud during church.
I think an active imagination is a wonderful thing. Stories and characters and made up games and alternate universes – that’s the good stuff. It’s why fiction writers are my heroes. And there are moments when daydreaming is great and propels us forward in our lives, like when we take our dreams and write them down and figure out a way we could actually achieve them. But I don’t tend to be productive in my daydreaming, and I’ve realized once I return from my time in space, I’m less content.
This Friday night I had nothing to do. I waited for a text. From anyone. To do anything. None came. I waited for a call. None came. Couldn’t my mom even call me? Nope. I had nothing to do with anyone. I sat on my couch and tried to relax but my thoughts turned dark like they do when I’m suddenly aware of my alone-ness. I begin to wonder if I have any friends. I start to count them and then find reasons that none of them are actually my friends. I mean, if I had friends, wouldn’t I have plans on a Friday night? I have no friends, I never have and never will. I wish I could say I’m exaggerating about my thoughts but I’m not. They actually go there. They actually get that dark and desperate.
I hold onto some things very tightly. Like white-knuckles-gritted-teeth-if-I-let-go-I-die kind of tightly.
It’s actually amazing I have the energy to do anything else. Anything but hold onto these things. I don’t believe I am alone in this.
I think the majority of us are probably walking down the street, teeth gritted, knuckles white, nails digging into our palms, holding on so painfully tight to things that were never ours to begin with.
We are taught a lot of things at the age of 13 by our churches and in our youth groups. I remember nights around the campfire at summer camp that profoundly changed the way I thought of Jesus. I remember hearing that my real identity was in Christ, not in whether boys liked me or what I looked like. Those were the lessons I remember being driven home the most. Because, as I know now, a girl’s self worth is one of the hardest fought battles in her lifetime. Our youth leaders knew this, so we talked about it a lot.
Saying no. Do you really need another lesson on it? Yes, you do. Why? Because no matter how many times someone stands up and tells us we need to pace ourselves, say no more often, reserves our yes’s, we do it really well for about an hour and a half and then we are back to over-committing our lives.
What if you went to church this Sunday, sat in your usual spot, sang along to worship songs with the usual worship team, then watched your pastor step to the podium and explain he now found it impossible to believe in the premise of Christianity? […]
Several weeks ago I read this article Liz Riggs wrote for Relevant about the way it feels for a woman to be called out by a man in public for her looks. Few women can forget the way their stomach turns the first time they experience this.