‘I don’t know how to play this game’

Recently, my son had a friend over for the afternoon. After several hours at the pool, the two boys settled down to play a video game while I prepared dinner. They started with something they both knew, but then my son invited his friend to try a new game.

‘I don’t know how to play this game. I’ll watch you for a few minutes.’

I overheard those wise words and was astounded at the humility of our eleven-year old neighbor. A total admission of ignorance to a peer…and a willingnes76552_449036944583_6570936_ns to learn from him.

Where was the bravado? Where were the false claims of high scores past? No puffed-up chest and big talk? No testosterone-encited braggadocio?  WHAT????

I loved it! The simple truth.

I don’t know how to do this thing. I want to know how to do it, but I’m ignorant at this time. Please show me how, and then I can participate with you.’

Now, I realize THAT’S way to lengthy and philosophical for these  controller-wielding preteens, but I’ve been around longer. I know where that priceless humility leads.

It leads to honest friendships and worthwhile relationships. It leads to being a target for manipulators, true, but oh, the depth of trustworthiness that humility displays to the rest of the population.

Being honest about faults and ignorance is the antithesis of original sin. Lucifer wanted to be equal, if not better, than God. Eve and Adam thought they knew their own limitations better than God, so they tried the forbidden fruit.. Pride…damned pride. Thinking we know better than the one who created us. We are fools.

To present ourselves to others as desirous of knowledge on a new topic, craving relationship and connection…that’s what God really wanted at the beginning of this whole existence thing. He wanted us to be open to learn, wide-eyed with wonder, reaching out to gain from experience with others, Himself foremost.

I don’t know how to do a lot of things that I want to know how to do. I want to demonstrate more love to my husband. I want to raise children who love God and others. I want to use my money more wisely. I want to find ways to help those who don’t have as much as I do. I want to bridge relational gaps.

Can you help me play this game? I will watch you and learn how to do it. Then, we can enjoy doing it together.

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James 1:2-6

My brothers and sisters, you will face all kinds of trouble. When you do, think of it as pure joy. Your faith will be tested. You know that when this happens it will produce in you the strength to continue. And you must allow this strength to finish its work. Then you will be all you should be. You will have everything you need. If any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He will give it to you. God gives freely to everyone and doesn’t find fault. But when you ask, you must believe. You must not doubt. That’s because a person who doubts is like a wave of the sea. The wind blows and tosses them around.

You’re doing it right when…

When I was 16, I served as a camp counselor at a Christian camp in the mountains of Virginia. I was so excited about the opportunity to do something so cool with my summer vacation! Until, mom and dad dropped me off at camp and left. Then, reality set in and anxiety cranked up. I became a bit of a nervous wreck…and stayed that way for 9 weeks.

Throughout that time, I listened to stories from the missionaries who were staying at camp that summer, stories of God’s faithfulness and protection on the mission fields. Africa, Australia, South America…bazillions of miles away from home. Butterflies fluttered in my tummy whenever the missionaries talked about their ‘call’ because I worried God was going to call me farther away than I already was…and that 90 minute distance from my mama was far enough!

During college, I remember telling my mom that I just couldn’t wait to get married and have kids because I just felt like I had so much love in my heart that just wanted to be used. Mom promised me that if God put that there, He was going to use it…at the right time. And the worry that maybe He was going to send me and my full heart to a galaxy far, far away resurfaced.

Well, I did get married, and I did have kids, and I have shared my love with them, and God has just filled my heart with more love to give away. So I started working with my church to find more ways to share more love.

Enter Jason Stanley. He came to our church four years ago as the associate pastor. We had our first talks on the playground and in the nursery. Unbeknownst to me, these two locations were pretty much setting the stage for my ministry work with Jason.

Over the next four years, he allowed me to experiment with different activities with the kids at church, delegated jobs for me to do in children’s ministry, and supported me in writing/creating curriculum for children’s worship. I took piles of old curriculum and compiled them into reusable, two year rotations of Sunday School lessons so our church could save some money. We collaborated on ideas to minister to young families, including Parents’ Night Out events and Family Mission Nights. We solidified annual church events for kids…Advent activities, Easter Egg Hunt, Vacation Bible School. We introduced new traditions…Blessing of the Backpacks when school starts, Family Thank You Meal in November, Project Sundays each month to share God’s love with various needy populations. My heart has overflown with love and outreach and ministry and love…finally. I have found my ‘calling’ in children’s ministry.

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Sad to say, Jason has recently moved. He gave me four months notice, during which I agonized about his departure. We had worked so well together to create this well-oiled machine of children’s ministry…I didn’t want to see it fall apart. But slowly during those months of knowing he was leaving but still working with him, I realized, I was no longer afraid of ministry. I didn’t want my friend to leave, but my 20 year fear that God was going to call me to be a missionary away from my family was resolved. God wanted me to be a ‘missionary’ right where I was…in my church…because through children and family ministry, I was spreading His name and His love to so many.

You’re doing ministry right when you lead people to a deeper relationship with God. It doesn’t have to be in Africa, though some people can’t wait for their opportunity to go there. It doesn’t have to be as a full-time pastor, though God certainly needs those willing souls. When you can open the eyes of fellow believers to see God at work …and then empower them to be a part of that work...you’re doing it right. That’s what Jesus did. He lead his disciples to know God, to comprehend His love and grace, and then to go tell others about it so they could live in it as well.

My last interaction with Jason at church was during the exciting chaos of VBS. I nostalgically considered how appropriate it was that our final activity together wasn’t having good-bye coffee or best wishes dinner, but rather it was up to our elbows in ministry. Loving God and loving others via graham crackers and foam shapes.

I hate walking into the church office and seeing Jason’s office empty, but my heart is still full of love to share. My list of mission projects is endless. And God’s work still goes on.

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Well done, good and faithful servant Jason. You’re doing it right.

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Chains

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When I was a kid, I really enjoyed making paper chains at Christmas time. Maybe it was the challenge of how long it could grow when competing with school  friends. Maybe it was the monotony of rolling, stapling, rolling, stapling…a menial task with maximum benefit in the midst of holiday rush. Maybe it was the simplicity of the decoration…paper and staples could fill a lot of gaps on the tree when ornaments were scarce. Whatever the reason, I liked making paper chains.

As my Christmases have become more umm…involved over the years, I haven’t had the pleasure of sitting down with a pile of colored paper, scissors, and staples in a while. Until tonight. These post-Thanksgiving days have been uncharacteristically relaxed. The weather has been balmy and perfect for children to run their vacation energy off outside. Their ages make it easier to release them to an independent activity while I relax on the couch a bit. It has been eerily calm.

While my son was biking with friends this afternoon, I was working on cutting some paper for a church project tomorrow (first Sunday of Advent!). I had a pile of decorative FullSizeRender(1)paper spread out in front of me and some scissors, some loosey-goosey little paper scraps and a roll of tape. I asked my nearly-six year old daughter if she’d ever made a paper chain. She said she didn’t think so. As she is methodically minded like her mom, I figured she would enjoy this project. So I grabbed the stapler (I know that makes it more rewarding, more quickly) and showed her.

StarFullSizeRender(3)t with a circle of paper, stapled together. Slide a strip of paper through the circle and staple it to itself. She grasped the simple concept within a few loops and began to connect them herself, just asking that I do the stapling. ‘This is fun!’ she observed after about 8 loops. I knew she was hooked.

As I recalled the last time I made a paper chain, probably elementary school, I considered how much my life has changed. How the plans I had then didn’t exactly happen the way I expected. I had visions of a chain of life events, a certain color scheme, a certain length, but that wasn’t the order God had for my life.

Each little loop of the chain of life has a special meaning, a connection to the rest of the sequence. A preschool friend who has grown up with me, my first job FullSizeRender(5)where I overcame my shyness, my few athletic successes, the job I didn’t get, the guy who shattered my heart, the day I saw my future mate, the church who allows me space for my visions, the book that opened my eyes, the evenings of mommy failure…each momentous connection to others adds a loop to my chain.

Long before paper chains were invented, Seneca said ‘Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.’ (That wasn’t just a late ’90s Semisonic lyric…) More recently, though not much, the psalmist David recorded, ‘You have taken account of my wanderings. Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?’ Our days and weeks are full of new experiences, some we want to cherish, others have brought us tears. They begin, they end; new ones begin and become old and end. But God keeps an account of it all…he has a list of our life events, our chain of events. And through those events, he crafts colorful connections to other people, those who need us…and those we need.

We don’t know how long our chains will be, but we can appreciate the simple beauty of the fact that they exist. Each twist or turn, new or old, makes another link that forever joins us with those around us.

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I’ll give my heart

What can I give him, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I would bring him a lamb.

If I were a wise man, I would do my part.

Yet what can I give him, give him my heart.

~In the Bleak Midwinter, Christina Rossetti 

This quiet lullaby, sung at Christmas, reminds us of our feeble attempts to give God something useful. He doesn’t need anything from us…but he wants our attention, our adoration, our love…because he loves us. What could we possibly give him that would add to his existence? Nothing. But we can love him and share his love with others.

My dear friends Jason and Megan are expecting a baby this winter. My four-year old daughter, a shoe diva, uncovered a lovely treasure that she has outgrown, and she wants to give it to them…for their baby. A pair of sparkly yellow sling backs.

IMG_3520Someone in her short life thought that they could enhance her small existence by giving her  this snazzy pair of  ‘clompy shoes’.  She didn’t need them. She could barely balance in them. But she loved them. And she knew that someone understood her adoration of fancy footwear.

After several weeks of her flopping around in them, sliding on our wood floors, and tripping herself multiple times, I hid the shoes in her closet. We discovered them again while making seasonal adjustments to her wardrobe recently. When she found the shoes, she knew exactly what she wanted to do with them now that she had outgrown them. Give them to someone special. They were special to her, and she wanted to share their ‘specialness’ with someone.

Jason and Megan’s baby will be born in the ‘bleak midwinter’… a time of year when sling backs are just not appropriate. That the baby will not have the muscular tone and strength to hold on shoes aside. This gift is a bit unnecessary, unneeded.

But the shoes are not truly the gift, are they? It’s the love. The sparkly, shiny, precious, shared love. The love that has already begun for a baby who isn’t here yet. She doesn’t need shoes, but she needs love. And we’re already for her…with open arms.

God doesn’t need our oversized, glitzy, glamorous gifts. He doesn’t even need our small, sensitive, sentimental gifts. He wants our intangible gifts… greeting him with open arms and open minds, desiring to spend time with him and learn about him, sharing the truth of his love with others. He wants our hearts.

 

1John 4:7-19

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.

Fried chicken = grace

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Grace showed up at my house tonight in the form of fried chicken. Here’s the story…

The past few days around here have been rough. My son has been sick with a high fever for four days, and sleep has been sparse for both of us. His little sister, however, is full of vim, vigor, vitality…and sibling rivalry. She’s not unaware of the extra attention that he is getting in his weakened state. And she’s letting us know about it, loud and clear.

So we all had midday naps yesterday. Much, much needed naps. And then, by the grace of the God of all seasons, the weather was fallish enough to go outside for a bit. I fixed dinner and set it on the counter to wait my husband’s arrival home, and we all went out to air ourselves out in the pleasant autumn breeze.

I sat in the yard, enjoying the season and the moment…happy that B was feeling well enough to play a while and that D was being cooperative with him. I was happy that dinner was ready…my first attempt at oven-fried chicken. It was tasty and not greasy, flavorful and not heavy. I was glad that, even though I had one man down, dinner was ready, the table was clear of folded laundry, and the house was in pretty decent order for the start of the school week.

When I went inside to get some water for my parched son, I saw it. The empty platter. With tell-tale residue still on it. And the scoundrel dog nowhere in sight. I was angry. Very angry.

When I returned outside and told the kids, they laughed, but then asked, ‘So what are we going to eat for dinner?’ ‘Mashed potatoes and peas.’ I replied. ‘Or maybe we should eat the dog.’

Later that evening, I texted a friend whose dog had once eaten an orange crayon just as my friend was getting ready to color a pumpkin. ‘How do I color a pumpkin with no orange crayon?’ he had pondered. In my text, I commented that ‘your dog ate your crayon, but my dog ate our fried chicken dinner!’

I’d love to say that I had a chuckle or even a grin about the whole incident, but I didn’t. I was tired. Bone tired from repeated nights without real rest. Emotionally spent from the war of the sibs over my attention and affection. There was no humor to be found when dinner was lost the night I had no energy to do it all again. And, admittedly, it led me to cathartic cry.

Today, when I got home from work, there was a box of fried chicken (and macaroni and cheese) on the kitchen table and a smiling friend on my porch.

I was reminded of a song that the choir at my childhood church used to sing. ‘The precious, unmerited favor of God has been extended to me/ The marvelous grace of my savior knows no boundaries…’ I didn’t do anything to earn or deserve this neighborly gesture. It wasn’t repayment for any deed I had done. It was a loving gift…a gift for someone who needed help. I couldn’t make the dog give dinner back…we really couldn’t eat the dog for dinner. I couldn’t undo what had been done. But someone else reached out to make right what had been wrong. Someone interceded in a precious, unmerited way.

Grace. I’d take it over fried chicken (and macaroni and cheese) any day.

2 Corinthians  12:9-10 (but here’s the whole chapter)

But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions,in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Hymn credit: http://www.drbentownsend.com/documents/1fsunmeritedfavor.pdf

Photo credit: http://www.thedailymeal.com/how-make-perfect-fried-chicken

Oven baked fried chicken recipe that my dog ate:   http://www.pinterest.com/pin/170855379588952588/

Rainbow Unicorn Bread

This week, my kids and I got the awesome chance to hang out with one of my college pals, Lezah, and her three kids. As sweet as it was to reconnect, it was honestly a bit of a surreal experience. Like here for a few hours a portal from fifteen years past was open and who we were then was swirling around in the room with who we are now. A myriad of personalities and moments, mingling past and present…

We went over to the house of Lezah’s former roommate and let all 7 of our collective kids romp and play while we adults caught up. We realized we were approaching nearly twenty years with these friendships. And these particular years were probably the most life-changing ones…with the exception of the first years of life.

Over these fifteen plus years, we’ve finished college, experimented with various careers, dated and married, bought houses, changed jobs, bought other houses, changed jobs again…and had a passel of kids. When our younger selves used to hang out, eating at the roomies’ house, with mom-cooked food, we thought we had life mastered. Homework projects…done, football games…there, bizarre dating schemes…schemed. It was all so ‘hard’ but we were so ‘strong’ because we’d figured it all out. We’d picked our perfect courses which would lead to our perfect careers, which would undoubtedly lead to perfect husbands and perfect lives.

Little did we know then that those perfect courses would not train us for the jobs we ended up acquiring. And some of those acquired jobs were not the ones we ended up loving.  And our husbands would not be found in our workplaces…or would not be found easily…or would not be perfect. We didn’t know which of us would stay in our college town, move back home to move away again…but closer to us in the college town. We didn’t know if we would have marital troubles or postpartum depression or miscarriages or illness. We didn’t know who would marry into a family business and go to work for her husband or stay home with the kids or be a workaholic. Our perfect college plans didn’t involve health issues, child-rearing worries, and responsibilities of aging parents. Our idyllic plans were merely dreams that we hoped would come true…like finding a unicorn with a rainbow mane.

But last night, as we set out a healthy, perfect meal of hotdogs, chips, and store-bought potato salad for our perfect kids, I realized that we had inadvertently reached our perfect lives. We had food for our children, who were healthy and happily wreaking havoc in the next room. We had friendship, lasting over the years with the plan of continuing onward. We had our faith in our God who had brought us together fifteen years ago and again last night… our God who brought us around the bends of life to become the people we are now. Each of us had all we needed to be perfectly happy.

And later in the evening, while our perfect children drew perfect pictures and made up new lyrics to every ‘Frozen’ song, Lezah and I made perfectly delicious zucchini bread. And when none of the perfect children would eat, we renamed it Rainbow Unicorn bread…and they ate it all up. Perfect.

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We have the promise that God knows where our rainbow-hued lives will take us, even when we don’t. Jeremiah 29:11-14 says,

11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

(www.biblegateway.com)

The woman who saved my life

Our first child was just about four days old, and we had left him home with the grands to get out of the house for a few hours. We got lunch and stopped by a craft store. I wandered aimlessly because what kind of craft project could I possibly work on after creating life just 100 hours prior. No paper, wood, or paint appealed to me. While wandering, we saw the mother of a friend.

She asked how we were doing, post-birth, and I said, “Oh, the baby’s great”, with all the feeling I could muster, which wasn’t much. My trembling hands gripped the empty, pointless shopping cart, and I endured the typical questions about the birth and our exuberance. Jean, her name was, gave me a meaningful mom-ish look as I excused myself to the restroom. I wobbled into the gray, overly perfumed lavatory and barely made it to the sink before the tears came. I gripped onto the cool white porcelain basin and begged not to go home. I couldn’t handle this new life. I couldn’t handle being a mom. 

I don’t honestly know how long I stayed in the bathroom; it wasn’t long enough for my husband to come looking for me. But it was long enough for the well-meaning mother to go on about her business. Her business…it angered me. Why didn’t she mind her own business? She had daughters and grandkids…she knew that the first few days and weeks are sleep deprived. She should’ve just smiled and waved and left us alone. I didn’t want to talk about the baby. And now, he was on my mind and I had to go home to him. Geez. How could she be so inconsiderate.

My uncertain emotional state (and the need to feed) led us back home instead of further out for the afternoon. I held the baby and fed him. I made the appropriate gestures of affection. I met his needs. But my heart ached for him to be back in my belly and for my life to be mine again. Why wasn’t this like babysitting? Why wasn’t this like teaching? I’d done both of those for years. Where was that feeling of joy and success? I’d never felt so overwhelmed and depressed.

Later that afternoon, Jean’s daughter Shelley called. ‘Oh good grief!’ I thought. ‘Couldn’t she just leave well enough alone?! I don’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t have anything to say. He’s a cute baby. We’re great. Yay life change.’ *Sigh*

‘Mom said she saw you today.’

‘Yes. It was nice to see her.’

‘She said she was worried about you… She wanted me to see if you’re doing all right.’

Seriously. Did this woman know when to stop?? How much more invasive could she be?

And then the tears started. And they couldn’t stop. I couldn’t even talk, so Shelley did. She had gone through postpartum depression and anxiety with both of her children. She knew what I was experiencing. She knew what it was like to put on the marginally happy face and give all the right answers to the questions. She knew how it felt to hold your own flesh and blood and NOT feel that warm fuzzy feeling that everyone was expecting you to feel. She wanted to take a break from it before it even began too. The numbness, the fear, the emptiness, the panic attacks…she’d been through it all…twice.

And that’s why her mom wanted her to call me. Because her mom recognized it in my eyes when she saw me. When I gave my vague answer ‘Oh, the baby’s great’… Jean knew the baby was fine, but I wasn’t.

What I considered an inconsiderate invasion was actually an inexplicable intervention. I needed more than an afternoon out. I needed a friend who knew my pain, knew a doctor, knew a medication, and knew it was all going to be all right. And that’s what Jean gave me. In telling Shelley to call me, she answered my prayers before I even prayed them. She opened a door of communication that I had been leaning against to keep everyone out. She gave me the chance to enjoy my precious son while I was still sane enough to hold him.

In the following days and weeks, Shelley came over, held my hand, wiped my tears, called her doctor and got me an appointment. I got on medication and by the time my son was six weeks old, I knew I was going to be the best mom that he could ever dream of having. And I knew that if I ever got the opportunity to reach out to help someone who was hurting like I had been, I would be the Jean to them.

She gave me the gift of motherhood.   IMG_2737                                                                                                 

 

Gaining resolution

I’ve never been fond of Januarys. As a kid, it meant that Christmas and all its glory was over for a whole monotonous year. As a teacher, January was seemingly endless. As a parent and adult, again, January means recovering from Christmas, cleaning up, reorganizing, getting back into routine, and other similar drudgery.

With this negative view of the opening of each year, I’ve never been keen on resolutions. Seems to be just another thing to have to  keep track of while recovering from the depression of the holidays’ end. Exercising more? Well, there will already be too many people at the gym. I hate the crowds. Spending less? I already shop at thrift stores and use coupons. I can only recycle coffee filters so many times. Being nicer? Enh…niceness is relative.

But this past year, 2013, for some odd reason, I had an epiphany of the annual promise to self. I determined to gain resolution rather than make resolutions. Aging and parenting have caused me to analyze relationships and to develop a more critical view of what is important. Honesty and transparency are non-negotiables. Common beliefs are nice, but are negotiable. And so on my personal list of relational qualifications goes.

I realized during the holiday season of 2012 that I was faking it with some people, and I didn’t like the way that made me feel, didn’t like the precedent it set for the future with those people, and didn’t like the example it set for my children. While on the other hand, I knew there were better friendships that had fallen apart over the years, and I was curious it they would survive restoration. And so, I decided that I would begin the path to resolution, not to end on December 31, 2013, but to become a lifestyle.

I didn’t know how to go about this process, admittedly. But I figured the wide avenue of Facebook was one to stroll down for familiar faces. In the spring of 2013, I messaged several old friends with a friendly hello, a proverbial fleece left out in the evening dew. I had to be patient to see what the responses would be, as this was part of the resolving…not my interfering. I received one friendly reply back within a few days. It resulted in letting bygones be bygones and the exchange of scooter for one of our children. All in all, a positive experience. Chalk one up for resolution.

Still no word back from the other message sent, but I concluded that meant ‘not interested in reconnecting’, so I accepted that and chalked up one reconciliation.

Spring brought the unexpected rekindling of a flaming old relationship. Attempting to make resolve with this person was arduous…not simply amorous as he desired. This one was the penultimate challenge…the Mount Everest of peace-making. I deeply wanted to find peaceful conclusion with this person, to be reassured of so many parts of myself that he had made me question. What began in April stretched into the summer and then, as always before, he disappeared. He was gone for his own undetermined amount of time, and I was disappointed. But after a while, I began to realize that I had indeed gotten what I wanted from this short-lived interaction. I knew answers that I hadn’t known before. He was the same, I had changed. He hadn’t grown up, I had. That’s all I needed. Bam. Resolved. Victory.

The late summer and early fall brought resolutions similar to that one. Realizing that certain relationships were not what I had hoped, but what I knew it my gut they truly were. Friends who couldn’t exactly be trusted or couldn’t exactly be honest. Conversations that were always exaggerated or always a little bit false. Shadowy elements of relationships that had given me the willies were finally dark enough for me to shine the light on them. And sure enough, they were what I expected. A little shifty, a little awkward, a little not right. Again, I was disappointed, but no longer disillusioned. I didn’t have to feel like I was a suspicious friend anymore. I could just resolve not to have those relations anymore. Awkward, yes. Healthy, definitely.

Then, out of the blue, a got a reply back from that other Facebook message I sent in the spring. It had just been found; it had gone to the ‘other’ folder where non-friend messages go. ‘Happy to hear from you’, ‘want to catch up’, ‘how’s life going?’ etc. ‘Oh, and by the way, that picture you gave me from that hockey game…I never told you how much that meant to me, but it really did…’ Wow. That hockey game was fourteen years ago. Someone still remembers something that I did fourteen years ago? Fondly? That was the height of my screwed up era! That was the middle of the era that the aforementioned twisted old flame. And I did something right then? Well, what do you know? Maybe I wasn’t so screwed up after all. I’ll take that win for resolution.

So there I was three-quarters of the way through 2013, amazed at what a simple decision had done. Resolution had brought revelation, over and over again. Broken friendships could be mended. Old flames could be extinguished. Shady friends could be left in the shade. And the old records that had been playing over and over in my head, could be broken; their songs were outdated. In revisiting the past with my present knowledge, I could identify what was beneficial for my future growth and what needed to be left behind.

These successes with reconciliation prepared me for the final quarter of the year-the holiday season. I pressed forward with my inner challenge and reached out to an estranged family member. Ironically, we met on January 1, 2014, not in the Year of the Resolution but still in the era of my peace-making. It was a good visit. Time will tell if we stay connected, but I did my part and will continue to do so because it is the right thing to do.

Overall, I’d say, resolution wins in any year. I’ve regained some valuable friendships that I thought were lost, I’ve begun to reconnect with some distant family members, and I’ve learned the truth about myself.

Bring it on, January. Maybe this will be the year I resolve my issues with you.