It’s that time of the year again, time to pause before a new year begins and spend some time reflecting and planning. Below is the list of questions I work through each year. I find them to be quite helpful, and hope you do too.
Happy New Year!
In my Bible between the Old and New Testament is one single sheet of tissue-thin blank paper. One page. I can flip past it in the blink of an eye, which is deceptive, because that single sheet of empty paper represents 400 years of silence. 400 years of wondering. 400 years of questions.
Will rescue come?
Will love come down?
Will God ever speak again?
Three years ago I found myself sitting in my car in a parking lot on a Friday night. I knew I needed to get out of the car and go in but I was afraid. I was also desperate, and that night I let desperation win.
I got out, walked across the parking lot and pulled the doors open. I was greeted by the distant sound of people singing. I made my way across the lobby, and into the sanctuary where I quietly slid into the back row. Before the first song ended I was fishing tissues out of my purse to try to stop the flow of tears. For the first time in a long time I felt safe.
It’s what we all long for, what we all plan for. We dream of falling in love with the ideal person and having the ideal marriage, with 2.5 ideal kids and an ideal golden retriever, living in an ideal home with an ideal picket fence and ideal car parked in the drive way. We plan for the ideal college to accept us with the ideal amount of financial aid and an ideal degree which will lead us to an ideal job field where we can use our talent to advance our ideal career.
Jesus and Peter had many encounters involving water, boats, and questions.
“Will you follow me?” Mark 1:17
“Do you trust me?” Matthew 14:29
“Do you love me” John 21:17
Three questions. Three encounters. Three defining moments in Peter’s life.
I was driving down I49 a week ago having a single-mom moment, which basically means I was having a full-fledged meltdown. I was talking to Jesus about all the "stuff". The concerns I have for my kids, financial worries, home repairs, the ever growing mountain of laundry, the days that are never long enough to do all that needs to be done.
I asked Jesus a simple, but desperate question, "can you remind me that I'm not alone in this?"
“I agree that marriage it hard, and a good marriage is worth it. However, the hardest thing I've ever done isn't marriage. The hardest thing I've ever done was a long, ugly, extremely messy divorce and the unhealthy, dysfunctional co-parenting relationship I have with their dad.”
I was sitting in the studio interviewing relationship experts Jeff and Debbie McElroy about the goodness of marriage when my phone buzzed with this message from a friend who was listening. She knew she could contact me, because we have walked the same journey of “long, ugly, messy divorce”.
As I sat in the studio with Jeff and Debbie I was encouraged. Encouraged to see two people so deeply committed to each other and so obviously in love. As Jeff described the “why” of marriage I found myself nodding along, “yes, this is what marriage is for! It’s for showing the gospel!” Jeff and Debbie continued painting the picture of how marriage models the gospel for us, how it shows us redemption in tangible ways. How in each marriage God wants to enter into every hopeless and dead place and bring resurrection. As Jeff says “Every marriage has a Sunday Morning coming.”
“There are no small parts, only small actors.” Constantin Stanislavski
I’ve been on both the receiving and giving end of that line. As a director I’ve said those words to many students who just found out they didn’t get cast as the lead and are feeling disappointment. With all of my heart I believe those words to be true. There are no small parts. Every part in every production serves a vital role. I know this to be true, and because I believe it, I have often quoted it.
I’ve also been on the receiving end of that line. In High School when my drama coach said that to me I immediately responded with “yeah, right” (eye rolling might have also been involved). I still feel that way sometimes. Sometimes life seems so small and so unimportant that I find myself questioning whether my part in it matters at all.
“I am lonely, yet not everybody will do. I don’t know why, some people fill the gaps and others emphasize my loneliness.” ― Anaïs Nin