Sunday, October 24, 2010

Boldly Approaching.

I well remember the day I stepped off the bus at Woolmarket Elementary School and was (kindly) told by the chuckling driver who overheard some conversation I was having, "Well, you're a feisty one, aren't you?" Having never heard that word, I just shrugged, smiled, and and told her to have a good day.

When I got home that afternoon, I asked my mom what "feisty" meant. She looked concerned, then asked me why I needed to know. Once I told the story and learned the definition, my steel-trap-minded 4th grade self could tell from the smiles my parents were trying to hide that they were proud, but we did have a talk about controlling our feistiness (among other things -- like redheaded tempers, and my tendencies to talk too much, and...etc.).

Those who know me as an adult laugh when I say I need to control my temper, or bite my tongue, or things like that. But anyone who grew up with me or who has ever met my sister understands that my role model was not typical. Kim is so sweet, and precious, and humble, and submissive. In fact, much of my fiestiness on the bus came from taking up for her during her awkward years when she was quiet and occasionally getting picked on (not that I would've known what to do had anyone actually hit me, Heaven forbid).

So that said, controlling my temper, and my tongue, and the unabashed boldness that's always been just below my surface has been something I've tried to keep in check over the years, whether people knew it or not.

Like most things, though, I think I got to a point where those traits became less something I wanted or needed to keep in check, and more something I just subconsciously learned not to do in public. (Which is good, and is why I haven't been arrested for road rage -- or worse.)

In the past year, I have learned a lot of lessons. Like, more than I have in some whole decades.

Throughout 12 months, I have learned that things are not always what they seem, and people are rarely ever what they seem.

I have realized, several times over, that life is entirely too short to always give and never receive.

I have been harshly shown the old adage that I must look out for myself, because everyone else is doing the same for themselves, and sometimes, no one else will be there to offer the hand I've tried to give so many times.

I've literally watched precious friends and family members die.

I've lived through the shattering of corporate and personal promises to me that I never thought would be broken.

I said goodbye to my favorite furry friend.

I've learned that in spite of the song my youth choir beat like a dead horse, friends are not always friends forever.

And I've had to learn that while I'm definitely not perfect, the origin of a lot of these lessons have not been my fault. In fact, nothing has been 100% my fault. This has really taken some learning, and wise counsel, and serious prayer for me to come to grips with. (I'm not sure why. I was never labeled remedial, but, who knows. It was the 80s & 90s.)

The lessons I've learned do include maintaining the kindness and meekness that I constantly need to remember the importance of by nature, but the ones that have dug their ways into my soul have been about reclaiming boldness and courage (for good, not evil -- or mischief).

For 33 years, I have laughed in the face of "me time." I've inwardly shuddered at the thought of "always lookin' out for number one." And I have perceived that my friendships were pure enough, and true enough, and real enough to survive anything.

And I was wrong about all those things.

I need to take care of Rebekah, or no one else will want to be around her.

I have to look out for myself, because Lord knows that a) putting that pressure on people who want to is unrealistic, and b) not everyone follows through.

And somehow, after three decades of being able to comprehend and relate to others, I've just come to realize in the past few months that friends can't be friends forever on their strength and love alone. We're human. We err. We bow up. And we crumble.

Some people (maybe including my family...?) may not like this, but I and several friends have referred to 33 as our "Jesus year."

This stems from having always associating 33 with the year Jesus was crucified, and certainly does not mean I think I'm Jesus. Or perfect. At all.

It just means that about 6 months in, it hit me that this was a really hard one so far. And that I was trying to do the right thing in a lot of areas, and praying that God's will be done, yet the hits just kept on comin.' And when I mentioned it to a couple of friends, they agreed that it had been the same for them during that year, and the same thought had occurred to them, too.

For those reasons, I am happy to bid 33 farewell.

Do I think 34 will be perfect? Um, no. (Have you met me? I still skin my knees. As children are calling me "ma'am." I'm pretty aware that my life will never be a walk down Wisteria Lane.)

But have I felt a new wind blowing in the past few months? Yes. Am I more hopeful about life in general than I was last fall? Definitely. Am I more at home -- in a hundred ways -- than I can ever remember being? Absolutely.

I attribute mental and emotional survival of these very hard last 12ish months to having been broken in a lot of ways, and humbly and meekly crawling back to the Source of all that's good: the Cross.

For more than a year now, when it's come to all decisions, great or small, I've taken the same approach. I've prayed quietly, then more steadily, and now with an amazing confidence, "Thy will be done."

I was reminded in Sunday School this morning that that is the kind of audacity neither earthly nor Heavenly Fathers hide a smile at. We're encouraged to boldly approach the throne of grace! I hadn't forgotten this Scripture, per se, but I definitely hadn't applied it to my situation in a while.

So while I don't expect to be spared the daily grind, or the broken promises, or the humanity of life and death that will surely come with this 34th year of life, I will boldly approach God with my request for it all to be for His honor and glory.

Will I mess it up? Royally. Will you read this, then see or hear or anticipate me acting like I never wrote it? Most assuredly. But is that my goal? No way.

This year, I'm going to take those lessons learned, add a little of that natural-born school bus feistiness, keep sprinkling in the kindness and meekness I so appreciate my parents and sister modeling for me, and build up some arm muscles as I steadily stir it all with a bold approach to my Father's throne of grace.

May His will be done.

And happy birthday to me. :-)

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