“Hey, less of the old, if you don’t mind!?” The shout echoes across the pond.
This holiday season brought me a beautiful gift in the form of 10,000 steps a day with my oldest and dearest friend. When the Best Friend Ever™ comes to stay and is on a health kick, you walk. And when friends who live 6,000 miles apart walk, they talk.
Oh, what a balm to my soul those conversations are!
The sweetness of conversation with one who has known me long and hard, through marriages (both), divorce (hers), children (mine) and continental faith shifts (both), is a treasure to me. There is penetrating insight in that long look that is unmatched by even the deepest friendships of this restless immigrant. There is weight to words spoken over me in loving compassion by this one who has known me for so long.
Seeing myself through her eyes is Revelation. Her words exhort me to grace and compassion. If you’ve been around me for long, you’ll have noticed that I am long on passion and short on grace – for myself at least; that I am the harshest critic of myself, my inner voice is a cruel, insatiable perfectionist whose standards are stratospheric, and who rarely listens to encouraging words, because “they don’t really know me”.
So, this year instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I am committing to a year of Revelations. I am digging in. Digging deep. A curiosity has awakened within me to know, to examine, to root out. I cannot explain how odd this is, I am, by nature, an adventurer, always on the hunt for the new, exciting, and exotic. I am easily bored, and generally not given to introspection. I am a classic extrovert, I gain so much energy and joy from people that the thought of spending time, alone, with my inner self (or selves) is, on the surface, unappealing. However, framed another way, this is an adventure, this is the ultimate challenge, to discover the depths of my self, to stretch my intellect, to be able to serve greatly without fear of being “found out”.
There are many areas I have begun to dip my toe into;
- Reflecting on the programming I internalised as a child is more relevant than ever as I guide my sons from adolescence to adulthood.
- Acknowledging and purging the cultural mores I have picked up from 10 years of life in the Evangelical Church of the American South become heartbreakingly urgent as I navigate this new landscape of #metoo and #timesup.
- Dealing with the codependency and psychic armour I developed to survive boarding school, but which has sown bad seeds and reaped a worse harvest in my life as an adult.
“Because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, How alive am I willing to be?”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
I hope you will come on this journey with me, not just as a spectator but as a participant in your own year of discovery. If there is one thing universally true, it is that change starts within. If we want to be agents of restoration to a broken, divided and hurting world, must we not first be those very agents to our own broken, divided and hurting hearts.
Let’s go! Joy awaits!