I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet…

I recently read a book that impacted me more than anything I have read in a long time. It impacted me so much so that I decided to write a blog post about it and share a few things I learned (or realized I need to learn…)

  1. Just because you struggle or something doesn’t come easy doesn’t mean you should give up… Shauna Niequist (Nee-Kwist if you were wondering how to pronounce it) discusses her family’s move from Illinois to NYC with raw emotion. You literally FEEL her pain – both caused by familial dynamics she chooses not to discuss in detail and the pain of letting go of everything that feels familiar to grasp things that feel uniquely UN familiar. It reminds me that sometimes the dance is more beautiful AFTER the storm, and that as cliché as it sounds, life truly is about the journey and not the destination.
  2. Dismantling – She uses this word several times and it feels so perfect, a wonderful way of discussing SO much of this life. Altering, lack of control, unrecognizable moments/places/things/people – Doesn’t it feel like we are almost always in a cycle of dismantling and rebuilding – typically simultaneously? Yet, even through this constantly changing thing we call life, our desire to “feel God’s presence, bring about his kingdom, tell his story in every way {we} know how…” should be beating like a pulse in our hearts. Or, at least it is this way in mine.
  3. Curiosity and Compassion – In the world we exist in, it is increasingly difficult to be curious and still exude compassion. Everywhere you look its this side vs that side, or this way vs that way and this group/cause/topic of argumentative conversation that shows little curiosity OR compassion for another viewpoint. It’s something I struggle with daily. I don’t have strong opinions of EVERYthing but man, the things I DO feel strongly about I can be almost hateful in explaining, and this is never ok! I dare say most all of us need to work on using more of both of these things. Next time someone mentions something to me that I strongly disagree with, I hope to respond with “I don’t know that I understand or agree with that thought – but why don’t you share more about where you are coming from to try and help me understand better?” What a difference that would make!
  4. Parties – If there is anything I picked up on quickly it was that Shauna LOVES to have parties, get together’s, fun times in the park and so on…and MAN! Do I feel that in my core! There have been too many times to count when I have gotten feelings hurt because people haven’t shared in my enthusiastic nature around parties and happy hours, and it’s hard for an outgoing extrovert like myself to understand. There is little I enjoy and love more than a packed house or area of the restaurant filled to the brim with people I love and enjoy being around. I am always ready with a fruit bowl, chips/guac and/or a charcuterie board! If you are like me and are always ready for a good gathering, let me know. I will always be the first one to arrive!
  5. How To Stay – this entire chapter moved me to my core and I desperately wish I could recount every word she wrote right here in this blog post. So much good stuff! My overview is that we are all “that” person for someone; either the person someone calls when they freak out, stress out, have a crisis or need to discuss a particular subject. I am that person for a lot of people when it comes to religion/Christianity. I recall a friend in high school saying to me “you’re the only Christian I let talk to me about God. It is because I’ve watched you and although you aren’t perfect, you actually live out what you say you believe. I’ve watched you lose boyfriends, fail tests, turn down invitations to things you would not be comfortable attending and it never makes you look like a loser/dork, etc. If anything, I respect you more”. I can’t think of a higher compliment, other than parents I’ve nannied for telling me they hope their kids grow up to be like me. I try – genuinely I do. I fail every single day, but I truly love Jesus with all my heart and nothing in this world makes me sadder than the realization that some people want nothing to do with going to heaven when they die, or being close with Jesus here on earth. I have worked on finding a “way to stay” my entire life. How to stay in the world but not of it, how to stay kind while standing on my principles, how to stay in someone’s life to hopefully leave a Christian impression and so on. I genuinely want others to see Christ in me. Whether you’ve never believed, or are struggling to believe, or used to believe and have lost too much to think you can continue to believe, I want to be that safe space for others to open up and share their fears, hopes, beliefs, etc with me knowing that anything I say will be done in love. Faith, to me, is like Shauna explained in this chapter; “Faith is something you tend to, something you nurture, something you dismantle and rebuild, something you wrestle with because it matters that much to you.” It’s difficult to ignore the failing of so many things in this life when we have worked so hard to build them in OUR image; governments, institutions, systems and definitely religion, all set up in ways that make sense to US, and that give US power, control and the ability to change them along the way, instead of rebuilding them in ways that mirror God’s image.
  6. Education of any and every kind should be taught in ways that allow room for exploring, being out in the world both literally, by taking hikes and playing in dirt and figuratively. “The best teachers are the ones who go to museums, and take art classes and go to the park and throw parties because when you do all that living, you have something to bring to the classroom”. This quote reminds me of my mom, who chose to homeschool my sister and me from kindergarten through high school. I remember disdainfully picking out maple and oak leaves and showing m parents which one was which on the Blue Ridge Parkway of NC for many years in the fall. My parents believed in the classroom being any and everywhere we were vs a desk and while I thought it was absolutely terrible as a child I am eternally grateful as an adult that I have distinct memories of riding down interstates as my family headed off on another adventure and my dad asking what blue interstate signs meant vs orange signs (Do you know?) and brown vs green, etc. I remember my mom helping me learn math by having me count cows on the left side of the road and adding them to the number I counted from the right side. May we all be a little more willing to learn “outside the lines” and never shy away from adventure.

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