As some of the crazy-busyness subsides, I'm back to reflecting on the questions that many of you have asked me and that I also ask myself. They seem to organize themselves around two big questions: "What does it mean to be a disciple--a follower of Jesus--in your new setting?" and "What do you want to do differently in the new place than you did in the old place?"
I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle the first question in writing just yet . . . the thoughts I have are "formless and void" right now--which, of course, is the perfect primordial soup for creation. But no "big bang" yet, so I'll set that aside for now.
The other question really grabs my attention because I'm such a sucker for new beginnings. I always LOVED New Years Day, the first day of school, the first day of summer, even Mondays! New Years Resolutions, new notebooks and newly sharpened pencils, turning the calendar to a new month or day--all opportunities for starting over fresh. I love it!
So I don't want to miss this opportunity to start over, to do things differently. Here are some things I know:
I want to focus more on the inside than the outside. I've spent my whole life trying to look right, act right. I've prayed more than once, "Lord, let me be the person people seem to think I am." I love my friend KC for one lifechanging moment: Shortly after the book came out, I was obsessing about my hair. (You women may understand the connection between these two things. The men probably won't.) Unfortunately for KC, I was obsessing out loud. I finally got it down to the bottom line: "I can't figure out if I look more credible with straight hair or curly hair." She turned around and looked at me straight in the eye and said in her lovely Tennessee twang, "Honey, if you're depending on your hair for credibility, you've got more problems than I can help you with."
Anyway, what I'm trying to say, is that I have this tendency to get lost in the external and the superficial and I'm trying to change. Here--in this new place--I want to remember that God looks on the inside, that there is always a danger of being a mile wide and an inch deep, that much of what I think matters doesn't. I want to be more prayerful, more reflective, more present, more real.
I want to focus more on authentic and intentional relationship and less on programming and scheduling. More being, less doing. More conversations and fewer lectures. More hospitality and less cocooning. I used to think that making disciples was about quality programming, usually involving a workbook and a speaker and refreshments. I now think that making disciples is more about community. I made the mental-model shift years ago, but couldn't always make the merry-go-round stop so that I could get off. Now I'm off, and I'm committing to not getting back on.
So, challenge me when you see me: Ask me who has been in my house lately, ask me who I've listened to, ask me if I'm having conversations with people who are nothing like me, ask me who I'm having coffee with who has nothing tangible to offer me in return.
I want to live a life of love. These are the scriptures that are calling to me these days: "Above all, live a life of love." "Nothing counts but faith expressing itself in love." "Love never fails." "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you have love for one another." "Love your enemies."
I've relied more on looking like a loving person than actually being a loving person. (Thankfully, sometimes acting loving can be a path to the real thing!) My CPE supervisor said to me once, "You know how to impress people and you know how to help people. It's time to expand your repertoire." That stung, but it put me on a lifelong journey that now has me wanting to get serious about learning to love. I'm praying that God will enlarge my heart, making more room for the people he loves, helping me to be more about openness and softness and less about needing to control or to change.
I want to cook more and eat out less. That's also about being more reflective, more hospitable, but also just one of the wonderful advantages of being in a home again. I love home!
So, there you go . . . the best I can do with the questions that some of you are asking and the questions I'm asking myself. I hope you'll be able to find your own new beginnings . . .
Love to you all!