So, if a person thinks I'm wordy when I'm talking to him or her (which I am) - it doesn't even compare to how wordy I've been on my blog. Since August of 2005, I have now totaled two thousand blog posts. Sheesh....that's a lot of words. But, it's also been a lot of thinking, processing, and absorbing what God has been teaching me in the last 8 years. And, it's been a lot too. But, I think I'll choose to spare you a little bit, and narrow it down to 20 of the biggest insights I've gained since I began blogging, 2000 posts ago.
Two Thousand Posts Later…
1) I am a touch OCD when it comes to recording family and personal history (apparent when you look at my Daytimer). As such, keeping up with this blog and maintaining it has never been a burden. A chore, for sure – and something I’m often thankful to be able to cross off my list, but it’s all so worth it for me to feel like the periods of happiness, sorrow, and challenge have actually happened.
2) I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that as I blog for our family (myself), I can’t expect anyone else to find entertainment in our ups and downs and all arounds. If my blogging were only continued based on comments I received, I’d have stopped a long time ago.
3) Real friendship cannot be judged by the qualifiers of age difference, distance from one another, time spent apart, or frequency of communication as to whether or not it will succeed.
4) One of the greatest assaults to friendship is within the arena of competition, jealousy, or judging. The older I’ve gotten, the easier this has been for me to battle, but I’ve even been hurt by the “reverse judgment” where I feel like I’ve been cut out from a person’s life because of their perception that I would judge what their life looks like. What an ugly cycle that turns into…
5) I admit I’m more of an introvert than an extrovert. Because of this, I need “downtime” with just my family or limited close friends to refuel. Without it, I’m overwhelmed and jump to resentfulness.
6) In light of this, I find it surprising that my “cup overfloweth” with people in my life I genuinely, absolutely love to spend time with.
7) The moment I realize I can’t be real with someone is the moment I realize I’m not going to ever become friends with them if left to my own power. God feels the gaps when that happens, but it’s been an uncomfortable ride.
8) The hardest conclusion John and I have had to come to when working with “young adult/college” ministry is that it’s not always convenient.
9) The moment ministry infringes on my family is the moment bitterness creeps its way in – I’m fiercely protective of our fleeting-too-fast family time. It’s been a long road of recognition to accept that this is my issue to preserve and not something I need to begrudge.
10) Boundaries are a good thing. Figuring how to set them up without hurting feelings is a hard thing. I’m learning.
11) Nothing puts a person higher in our ranks than the person who supports and loves our kids. Seeing the “giving of oneself” come full circle in the mentoring process as our mentees become role models for our children has been priceless.
12) Going back to that age difference in friendship thing…not everyone that we set out to meet with becomes our closest friends, but I begin to realize it’s indeed moving that direction when they seem to care as much about what is going on in my life as I do in theirs.
13) The wider group of people I get to know and meet, the more I’m realizing just how much a person’s life-perspective, choices, and personality are a result of their parents (for both good and bad). It is hugely sobering.
14) No matter how mature a person may seem to be in everyday life, it seems that “family encounters” can almost always find some chink in our armor. It’s such a “blindside” for so many people I’ve met with, as to how they can act one way in this environment and turn into someone altogether different when put in family scenarios. I know it first hand, and still grieve my conduct that seems so inexplicable when I look back on it.
15) They say to parents, “Don’t make it your ambition to be your child’s friend – make it your ambition to be your child’s parent”. I believe in that, but I think there can be a balance. Eventually, though, if a parent has done their job right – I think the balance – at some magic juncture of adulthood – can swing almost all the way over to friendship. I’ve seen my parents perfect that with us, and while I’m not ready for it to be now, I look forward to the day when that is able to happen with our own kids.
16) Unless you’ve been an absent parent (or some other big problem exists), you are the best expert as to who your child is and what they truly need. The hardest part comes in 1) filtering every voice out there telling you what they think about it, and 2) actually meeting the need and not just what will make the child happy at the moment. I struggle with both, but have finally embraced I AM the expert of my own family.
17) I’m also the expert of my own marriage. I still remember the condescending attitudes and “you just wait” comments of our pre-wedding days when folks thought they had a right to condemn our relationship to the same pitfalls “everyone else” experiences. We had our own pitfalls, to be sure (and still do), but nobody knows how to climb out of them better than we do.
18) Saying “I’m sorry” has been one of the most powerful words in our family. Making mistakes have been so instrumental in how we have all grown. Two things our kids absolutely know: 1) we love them, 2) we aren’t perfect people – and need their grace on a constant basis.
19) I am convinced that the number one reason people choose not to seek out Jesus as their Savior is because of the horrible conduct and behavior of “supposed Christians”. It makes me sick and constantly prayerful that I would never have that effect on others.
20) I am so thankful that God’s requests of me (and our family) come in tiny baby steps of faith. In such, he’s illuminating pixel upon pixel of an image of His plan for us – that, after enough baby steps becomes eventually visible to us. When we catch that glimpse of the full image of His desire to use us…oh wow.