There is something about inter-generational learning that fascinates me, especially when it comes out of conversation. As a child, I never shied away from talking and interacting with those older or younger than me one-on-one. I think it comes from a deep desire to learn from other people and to encourage others through life.
Have you ever left a conversation feeling like you can take on the world or get through the next few moments? Have you ever started a conversation with no intention of depth only to finish it feeling like you never want to do small talk again?
I have learned to see when to sneak in depth into every day life and let people join or stay close to the surface…but mostly I have learned to listen. It never ceases to amaze me what wisdom and truth and love and grace can be found by engaging others in conversation.
My Dad taught me that boldness matched with talking is an amazing platform to meet people and be changed by them. As I sometimes rode along in his cab as a kid, I witnessed his ability to change what could be a mundane trip across the city into an adventure by asking that right question or sharing that particular story.
So, the next time you’re in line or waiting for the muffler to be fixed or sitting in the caf at lunch, why not strike up a conversation with someone? Why not ask that person what they think about life, the universe and everything? If they only say 42, you’ll have an excellent segway into figuring out if they really do speak nerd…but you’ll learn something.
I made it so far and yet did not get to my 40 day goal. That being said, I’m happy with reaching 29 days given the real life priority shift I encountered in September and October. Sometimes writing takes a back seat to living and I’m quite ok with that. And so to end this season of writing I’m going to use my blog as an excuse to share about the real life priority shift that I cannot seem to not talk about. Brace yourselves, this could get cheesy, sappy, romantic… well, in the words of a great man, “get over it.”
It started with coffee…
I often do not see God’s faithfulness in the present but rather in hindsight. I had no idea that asking to tag along for what I knew to be a typical mid-morning coffee routine at work would be a new beginning. My only thought was, “he’s interesting, I’d like to see why” or something along those lines. One day became two, two became five, and so on.
I once met with my pastor and asked a simple dating question, “Got any dating advice?” “Just be.” he said. What do you mean “just be”? How on earth am I supposed to do that?!!! I was sitting there in my at the time insecure state wondering what he was talking about. By God’s grace, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the restful presence of a good man, and I think it has clicked. Identity in Christ at the foundation of being, and layered with who God has made me and who He is shaping me to become moment by moment. Without confidence in Christ and recognizing God as the true Pursuer, dating would not work for me. Moment by moment.
With the man I’m speaking of, I can honestly “just be” with and wowzers, it is the craziest feeling. What do you mean I can be me: no holds bar, bold and open and vulnerable me? Really? Are you sure? You don’t want to take back the offer? No. (I can hear him saying it even as I write these questions). NO! Be the woman that you are, cause that’s who I thought “she’s interesting, I’d like to see why.”
I think perhaps my favourite aspect of getting to know him better has been watching prayers being answered in who he is and the way he expresses his intentions. I can see how God is using him to redeem and break down walls and speak truth into lies for me. I am seeing what rest, joy, contentment, and encouragement look like in a dating relationship versus some of my past experiences of fear, insecurity, and confusion. And I see a lived out theology, love for God and love for others. What an example of Christ he is as he seeks the best in others and draws it out with acts of service, care and being present.
I once chatted with a friend about how hard it can be to just rest in what God has planned when you have a big imagination. You feel like you can imagine all the possible scenarios or situations and so do you really need God? And then God gives you the un-imagineable and you wonder how you thought you knew so much. You look to the heavens with tears of joy at the way He has provided what you didn’t even know you needed. You anticipate what is coming next as you get to know such a wonderful man… wondering, if he is this great already, Lord, what more are you going to reveal? And I hear, “Wait and be faithful. I got this one covered.”
I know you’re reading this, my dear one, and there is a smile on your face as you read my heart expressed so publicly in regards to you. “Just be”… because that’s exactly what I love: that you’re you and no one else.
Mentoring is organic. A year ago today I started volunteering with the Pathways to Education Mentoring program. I wanted to rekindle the desire to mentor youth and thought this program would be a good idea. At first, I could see that I was trying to force connections…as I started to be myself more and more, certain grade nines would come and connect with me. I didn’t have to pursue them or try too hard. It was awesome. I just had to let it happen, organically.
“Just be”. Best advice I have received in a long time. The context was when I was asking my pastor for dating advice, but I realized it could be applied in general to life and myself. As a friend, just be. Rather than over analyzing too much, just be. Someone special has given me the surreal freedom to just be, and he’s amazing. The best part of this learning is that as I have settled into living out just being me as God made me, I am finding the blessing of rest. I please people less and I explore who God made me more. I can only be me, no one else can, might as well live it out to the fullest (Psalm 139:14).
Wait, and be faithful. Learning to wait when all I want is instant gratification has been a difficult concept to grasp. And once you do finally start waiting, being faithful to God while wanting an answer is tough. For work, I was working a temporary contract that seemed to be the right fit. I felt God saying, “wait, and be faithful”, so, persevere, work hard, keep trying no matter what outcome. It was easier at the beginning of the set time frame…but when you don’t know the timing of the end result…you struggle with waiting. I want what I desire now Lord! “Wait, and be faithful,” He says, “I have everything under control.”
Let go. As I have watched a best friend learn what it means to let go, I have been trying to identify the areas in my life where I need to do likewise. There is hurt, resentment, fear, and insecurity to let go. There are relationships that were not beneficial to let go. There is the letting go of physically seeing my Dad as I grieve that loss. On a basic level, it is moving on from a frustrations, or disappointment knowing that letting go keeps me sane and chill.
Identity in Christ. Having identity in Christ at the centre of my life and who I am has brought moment by moment grace. By focusing on what Christ has done on my behalf in showing the Father’s love, I feel more confident and free. I can rest in the knowledge that I am being completed by the work of the Holy Spirit. I have hope in the midst of life’s suffering and uncertainty.
Well, I wonder what I would write about in another twelve months. Perhaps these revelations will just be built upon and strengthened.
I loved that I was given this topic because it is a great reminder of how we often try to fit life choices and experiences into a societal blueprint rather than focusing on what the Master Architect is designing moment by moment. I was recently in conversation with a couple of co-workers regarding getting my second level driver’s licence and wanting to get a car at age thirty-one. As we were talking, one co-worker said, “My Mom says that you do things at the right time because it will make them easier”. I got instantly defensive and retorted with, “What is the “right” time? As if the timing I find myself in is “wrong”?”.
For many years of life, I have looked at circumstances through a lens that says I should have done things in a certain order to be successful as an adult. You know what I mean, the North American dream – get your license, finish high school, go to college, get married, have kids, retire… so your kids can, get their license, finish high school… etc. Ironically, at the “proper” or “normal” ages, I didn’t even give it a second thought that I missed something. I just kept on going perhaps because of being really laid back or even better due to a certain amount of resilience. Sometimes, I needed to ignore the “right” or “traditional” ways of doing things because I had other priorities to focus on. I could go into detail as to different small and big life traumas, but I won’t, I will just say that God orchestrates things in His way and His timing. Instead, I would like to share a couple of analogies come to mind as I have tried to navigate growing up and discerning what being an adult means.
One analogy is the idea that we make choices as an adult like putting pieces into a jigsaw puzzle. Only God sees the big picture but He gives us pieces that need to be put into place. If we jam a piece in like a child pounding our fist onto the table, the overall picture looks distorted. Sometimes we have to take a piece out and try it somewhere else. Without stretching the analogy too far, it’s about taking leaps of faith and making wise decisions. I simply couldn’t focus on certain expected life things while God was teaching me about others.
Another analogy that I learned is about growing up spiritually as an adult relates to God being a composer who puts the music in front of us (His Word) and gives us a wonderful Conductor (Holy Spirit) to guide us while we play the instrument we have (our gifts, personality, life experiences). If we go off the music in front of us, the sound is distorted and the Conductor has to redirect us back to what is true. Practically, I need to be in the Word and seeking God’s direction for how to live as I am being made more like Christ (the Perfect musician).
Lastly and perhaps the most recent analogy to come to me through a friend, we are the arrow in God’s bow. Sometimes in life we feel like we are being held back… like there is a tension between where we are and where we feel God is leading us or directing us. If you imagine an arrow in a bow and in the hands of an archer, you see that the bowstring is pulled back to the mouth of the archer. While we are being pulled back and held in tension, waiting to be released to the intended target, God is preparing us and teaching us so we are sure to hit the mark. It is usually in hindsight that we see God’s faithfulness as we are blinded by the present struggle or dissatisfaction or misdirected focus. Typically after we hit the target do we realize what He was planning all along.
Ecclesiastes 3:3-8 (NASB)
A Time for Everything
3 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—
2 A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. 3 A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. 4 A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. 5 A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. 6 A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. 7 A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. 8 A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.
Joy… what is it? It transcends feeling happy. It shows through. Joy beautifully overwhelms your soul with the unexplained mystery of who God is and how He shows love. Joy comes by the strength within and cannot be tapped into or put on like a winter coat. Joy is that eternal feeling of satisfaction in all situations. There is joy in pain and happiness because there is only One that provides joy.
I once had someone say to me, “One thing I have noticed about you is that you are happy. You’re not married, you don’t have a car, your job isn’t permanent, and you still live at home. And yet you are happy.” I first thought, “well, now I’m not happy after you pointed out all those things.” Then I realized that joy is displayed through me when my identity and contentment (or happiness) is not found in these things. I think that is what joy is…it’s deeper than having everything together or meeting certain standards.
Joy is knowing that Christ is the source of identity and satisfaction above all else. In that song “Soon” by Brook Fraser, the chorus says, “I will be with the One I love, with unveiled face I’ll see Him. There my soul will be satisfied, soon and very soon.” Real, deep, and lasting joy…So, to share what joy I have in my life, I feel the best way to say it is: I hope moment by moment that by the Spirit I would live from the identity in Christ I claim to be as the source of joy. That I would look at things through a lens that does not just see happiness but sees how God is at work.
I could not think of anything for this topic outside of life without my Dad. Here’s something a friend sent me just after my Dad passed away:
Monday August 26, 2013
Remembering the Dead
When we lose a dear friend, someone we have loved deeply, we are left with a grief that can paralyse us emotionally for a long time. People we love become part of us. Our thinking, feeling and acting are codetermined by them: Our fathers, our mothers, our husbands, our wives, our lovers, our children, our friends … they are all living in our hearts. When they die a part of us has to die too. That is what grief is about: It is that slow and painful departure of someone who has become an intimate part of us. When Christmas, the new year, a birthday or anniversary comes, we feel deeply the absence of our beloved companion. We sometimes have to live at least a whole year before our hearts have fully said good-bye and the pain of our grief recedes. But as we let go of them they become part of our “members” and as we “re-member” them, they become our guides on our spiritual journey.
– Henri Nouwen
I decided the best way to articulate starting to let go and re-member my Dad is by writing a letter. Here it is and it’s me and it’s honest.
I’ve decided to talk about what it is like to work in Human Resources (HR) using the above photo from the perspective of our plants. First off, you need to be crazy to work in the human resources department. The quirkier, the better.
Secondly, with the amount of things you hear and deal with in regards to employees, you cannot survive without a good sense of humour. Filterless Fridays are an excellent time for ridiculous stories and letting loose. Sometimes the filter is on for a more normal person in the team but something awesome sneaks out.
The thing I love about being in HR is that I get to be a human resource. I’m not even trying to be funny…I feel like this area has opened me up and is like a conduit if my skills and abilities. Although I may have a more counselling based undergrad and am more of a techie in the department, I can see how I fit in this field.
I think what I have learned in the last year and a bit is that I thrive in a positive and supportive environment. I know that not every HR department at a company is like the one I am in, but because it’s the only one I know, I’m going to assume anyway. Without mutual recognition, a team, to me, is not really a team. It can be as simple as saying, “thank you” or “I appreciated that”. We like to use shout-outs where we write down the encouragement.
Another advantage to being in HR is that you don’t have to go far when crisis hits. I barely found out about my Dad passing away and I was loved on and provided with information for bereavement in no time. I am blessed to have the kind of co-workers/teammates who know how to really be there for each other. And isn’t it usually the case that crisis can either bring you together as a team or tear you down?
I am thankful to be apart of the HR team and that it has stretched me beyond what I could have imagined as a young professional.
“I see your true colours shining through, I see your true colours, and that’s why I love you… so don’t be afraid, to let them show.” – Cindy Lauper
Friendship has been one of those areas of life that I do not want to live without. I once heard a sermon that said, “Friendship is a one way street”. He was expressing that sometimes we are a friend to someone who may not be a friend to us. To be a friend is to love sacrificially and with their best interest at heart. That is tough to do because we are constantly looking at what is good for me, or what can I get out of this, or how can I be pleased today. What?! You want me to put someone else first? I have had many moments of stupid resentment because a friend hasn’t called or checked in or initiated spending time with me. But as I write this and reflect on what I think a true friend is, I realize that I have it all wrong when I put the focus on the other person. I cannot control them. I can love them.
The sermon guy went on to say, “but if you find someone who will be a friend back to you, consider yourself blessed.” Mutual encouragement. In the last couple of years I have began to see that some of my best friendships have been a beautiful balance of give and receive, carrying each other’s burdens and carrying our own load, pursuing growth and connection, and getting through the hills and valleys of life alongside someone else. I know not all my relationships are like this, in fact, I’m ok that some of them are more me showing love than receiving it… but when I do find one that is mutual, man do I cling to it.
We’re getting close to Thanksgiving and I realize that I am thankful for friendships. Throughout the many hills and valleys of singleness, good friendships have been essential. They give the opportunity to put someone else ahead of yourself when you can get stuck in self-centeredness. They sharpen you as you realize where there’s relationship, there’s conflict. Friendships give you a place to love with boundaries. I love showing love through a variety of ideas and thoughtfulness… friendship has been wonderful for me to just unleash the encouragement that wells up inside me. A note, a treat, a coffee, a hug… in friendship, I can “just be” myself.
To my many friends reading this, I love you dearly and hope you know that.
When I was in grade five, ten years old, four foot three, with an unfortunate boy-style haircut (in case you need a visual), we read “Maniac Magee” by Jerry Spinelli as a class.
Spoiler alert! I may share too much plot if you plan to read the book.
The book starts out with tragedy and then is written much like the movie “Forrest Gump”. The kid starts running and ends up trying to find real family after losing his parents. He goes to the “wrong” part of town, interacts with other races and ages, and you are always surprised at the kid’s boldness with others. I can still relate and interact with the story even now, and I haven’t read it in decades (wow that makes me feel old).
As I grew up in a more multi-cultural city, compared to the one in the book, I did not understand why it was strange for a white kid to talk to kids in a mostly black neighbourhood. My first neighbourhood friends were from Japan, Costa Rica, Portugal, Vietnam, and England. I didn’t think about skin colour.
I also can relate to the kid in terms of multigenerational interactions. The story has a part where he becomes friends with an older man. This seems normal to me as I was the kind of kid who was taught to talk to adults openly. I was the only eleven, twelve, and thirteen year old at the church I went to during childhood. It was either talk to the adults or talk to no one my age.
In terms of boldness with others, well, I have it in spades. I ask questions that don’t typically get asked. I try new things on a whim – like the kid trying to untie the one town’s signature knot. I once had a random person bring me a Turkish coffee pot just because of a previous conversation we had about coffee while we were in line at a Tim Horton’s.
The key thing in the story that stuck with me is that after all the running, one member of one of his surrogate families finds him. It’s like in that movie “Catch Me if You Can”, he runs hoping someone will care enough to follow, to chase. The kid is found and scolded that he should know that his place is part of their family.
I keep recommending the book to a co-worker who finished reading “The Silmarillion” by J.R.R Tolkien with his son… But I think I need to find my copy and re-read the book that has stayed with me for so long. I can’t help but wonder if my perspective would be different so many years later. We’ll have to see…stay tuned.
As I looked at the T.V. during Monday night football, I realized that it was one color against another in terms of jerseys. When you look at the field from above, you see green against white or maybe you see purple against red. Sometimes football is described as a chess match which I absolutely love, but I think it could also be seen as a battle.
I don’t feel like it’s a very far stretch to even compare chess to battle and battle to football… I think that might be why I enjoy watching football so much. There is strategy and focus and leaning on the guy beside you to get through the situation. I mean no one’s trying to kill you in football but think about how many times in a movie you have heard one of the opponents say “I’m going to kill you!”
My favorite colour going into battle is the Seattle Seahawks. Sometimes I wonder if people will think I picked this team because they won the Super Bowl last year, however, there are many reasons why I picked them as my favorite team. For one, I went to Seattle the summer of 2013 and I loved the place so much. I think another influence was a couple coworkers really like the Seahawks and they kind of like brainwashed me into liking them as well.
As I watch football this year much more hard-core than I did last year, I realize how much I really like watching Russell Wilson manage the field. The way he coordinates plays and is willing to run the ball is not typical and is just awesome. I also enjoyed the aspect of the twelfth man: the fans.
Before being encouraged to watch more football by one of my best friends, I would love watching the Super Bowl. I looked forward to it and even spent one year explaining to some ladies at a party now the yards and downs work.
I love how football has been used as an outlet for strengthening and growing relationships. My best friend got me more into it and we have relaxed watching many games. I was at my elder’s house for dinner and then we watched a game with huge pumpkins (inside joke). Fantasy football has been really fun at work as we give each other a hard time or gloat. Lately, football has become an excuse for some sweet quality time with someone pretty awesome.
But no matter who I get to watch a game with, I have enjoy the sport, especially the Seahawks. They show the colours I want to win in battle.