Friday, June 15, 2018

Reaching Out

I have a friend.

She's not someone I see very often.  In fact, I've seen her less than 5 times in the last 20 years.

And I have talked to her on the phone about as many times.  Typically we text.

I haven't been a very good friend to her over the years.  I went MIA for a majority of the time after college.

But she showed up at my dad's funeral and has continued to send me random texts in the months since.  There's no rhyme or reason to them, but they always come at a time when I need to know that someone knows that grief doesn't end at a funeral. (Actually, that's probably when the real grief starts.)

I received one text on a Sunday that said she was praying for me because going to church after her dad died was hard for her.  Just that morning, I was telling someone how singing songs about death (which we do a lot of in church) made me sad and relieved at the same time.  Sad because death seems so final, but relieved (maybe even joyful) because Jesus overcame it and the power of that overwhelms me.

Here's what I've learned from my friend:

  • When God brings people to mind, I should let them know.  It doesn't need to be a grand gesture, just a simple text or comment on their IG pic or blog post will often suffice.
  • Never think that my grief/challenges are unique to me.  Someone else around me is going through, has gone through or is about to go through the same thing.
  • God speaks to us through friends as much as He does through the Bible and church.  And if we see them as such, life is so much more fun.
  • Even though we don't deserve it, grace abounds.  I can hold grudges or I can give grace to those who don't live up to my expectations.  
What I'm trying to do is to ask myself every morning, "Who do I need to reach out to?"  It might be a co-worker, a friend or even one of my daughters, but there is always a face that comes to mind.  Sometimes I text.  Sometimes I make it a point to have a conversation.  One time, I just ordered a book for her and had it sent.  Every day it looks different.  

And some days, I fail and am too busy looking inside myself to do more than survive my day.  

But, even if I only reached out to 1 person each week, that would be over 50 for the year.  And if YOU reached out to 1 person per week, that would make over 100.  And if we each invited a friend to do it with us, that's over 400.  And we could go on and on here... 

But it all starts with ME being willing to reach out...

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Consistently Consistent

I don't often allow myself to dream and create a bunch of new year's resolutions, but I love the idea of a Word for the Year.  In fact, the last 2 years, I've created a project for other families to come up with their word and it's been a hit.

But it's harder for me to find one of my own.  The word that typically comes up over and over is not the word I want.  There have been years when I've tried to change it to what I wish it was (like the year I wanted whimsy to be my word) and it's been like trying to make a round peg go into a square hole--it will work, but it wobbles around and just doesn't fit (I mean, seriously...whimsy is not a word I would ever even say, let alone model my life after--no matter how cool it is).

The word that kept coming to mind this year was "CONSISTENT."  Blah.  Such a boring word.  I tried to find others in the thesaurus that would mean the same thing and most of them were just as dull: dependable, uniform, steady, expected...

And I argued that this really wasn't my year to be consistent--I mean it started off with my schedule all out of whack and dealing with my dad's death and the grief that comes over me at inconsistent time.  I changed jobs. I have teenage daughters. Brian's job is feast or famine.  There's really not a lot of consistent things in my life.

But the word won't go away (which is why I'm finally posting about it in June).  It's come to mind even more the last few weeks as I've tried to get into a rhythm of exercise.  I want the excitement of boxing or noticeable weight loss, but those are not really part of my program right now.  Putting one foot in front of the other and walking a mile and a half in the morning is.  Convincing myself to get out of bed when the sun is just peaking out and putting on my tennis shoes instead of curling up with a book is.

And I still don't love it.  The exercise or the word.

But, they are both right.

I'd like to think that one day, both will bring me joy, but I'm not confident in that dream.  It may be one that I see down the road in my rearview mirror. I want to have this great "AH HA!" moment that I can share in my memoir of how everything changed.

But I don't think it works like that for most of us. 

I think it's the simple choices we make every day to do the next right thing.  The choices that change us in small, unnoticeable ways.  The ones we make while we're trying to get to the ones we think will make a drastic difference.