Dear 25

“I eventually realized my own humanity. Our message of God’s grace is exponentially more powerful when we embody a picture of the gospel instead of just preach it.”
– my friend Andrea Joy Wenburg

We couldn’t see the floor.

It was this time last year, and my friend’s living room was packed with air mattresses and blankets and pillows wall-to-wall.

Friends from all areas and seasons of my life had gathered to celebrate my birthday, and after making homemade pizza and laughing through several hilarious games of Taboo, we were challenging the clock toward midnight.

I looked around the room teary-eyed at God’s faithfulness to me in the form of my friends. My college girlfriends were huddled in one corner, catching up on their lives as small town teachers. The party hosts were settling on the couch with worn-out grins on their faces. Members of my small group were packing leftover treats to take home to husbands.

Friends of 16 years, 6 years, 6 months. All gathered to celebrate life with me.

I thought, “Surely, there is something sacred about this.”

There’s got to be something sacred when you can’t see the floor anymore.

When you’ve invited friends from across town and out of town to stay over, tucking everyone in all together. When the smell of pizza lingers and the table is still full of empty glasses and candles burning down. When the pillows are pulled out and friends allow themselves to rest. When you’re tuckered out from the good and hard of life, but you gather people together to celebrate anyway.

Here’s what I’ve come to believe in the year I’ve lived since that birthday.

Sacred happens together.

It happens when we show up fully in each other’s lives, whether that means crying or celebrating, grieving or laughing.

I want more together this year.

I’ve created a list of five truths I want to live by in the coming year – more guides than goals. Representative of how I want to live, more than what I want to do.

But, honestly, I just want to continue in the amazing, grace-drenched, laughter-filled pattern of the past year. I want to go deeper in knowing God and knowing myself. I want challenges and dreams and brave choices. But I wouldn’t change a thing about my community, my people, the way we do life together. I want more of that – a reprise.

I came home last night after a great birthday weekend and realized that I couldn’t see the floor in my room anymore. I laughed at the memory and at the disaster scene. If I can’t see my bedroom floor, this is a sure signal that my week has been insane. This means I’ve dropped my bags and mail and magazines and books and clothes and running gear and craft supplies everywhere on my way to elsewhere.

Just as the full floor represented the wonderful people gathered on my last birthday, my full bedroom floor this week also meant that I was doing life with others. I neglected to clean my room in favor of spending time with people, accepting invitations to learn and grow and hear people’s stories and share their tables.

Full floor means full life. And I’m all about that.

I’m all about weeks so full that they’re overflowing. I’m all about days where activities and meetings and work and plans string together like beads on a necklace, just barely overlapping, one thing after another, full of variety. I’m all about wearing myself out with activity, and then crashing hard into rest, knowing that I’m living life to the very fullest.

So, this year, I want to continue filling my floor (but mom, if you’re reading this, I promise that I will clean my room sometimes).

That’s first on this list of my truths to live by in year 25:

1. Fill the floor.
Keep your life full of deep friendships – deep, not necessarily wide. Invest well in a group of close friends, leaving the floor of your bedroom a disaster in the process. Show up for your people and invite them to gather together, seeking shelter from life’s hard and weary road. Practice love. And at every possible opportunity, cover the floor with air mattresses for sleepovers.

2. Do the hard, right thing
Believe you’re brave. You are. You have absolutely everything you need to do hard things. When you know the right thing to do, trust your instinct, and act. Don’t doddle and don’t be afraid. Hard is not a sign that you’re doing something wrong, but rather a sign that you’re living a brave life.

3. Go gently –  body, mind and soul.
Allow your body, mind and soul to stay true to each other, for this is the path to a WHOLE life. Don’t worry about what you ‘should’ feel – allow  yourself to feel how you feel. Pause before  you say ‘yes’ to anything, making sure you’re aligned with your values and boundaries. When you day is packed solid, remember to breathe and invite the Holy Spirit to help you slow down. Take a deep breath to check in with your own truth, and take a deep breathe before responding to a friend’s truth.

4. Lead
Trusting God’s design for you and the work of the Holy Spirit in you, be a leader this year. Own it. Say something. Start something. Invite opportunities to lead projects at work and to lead discussions with your people. Use your creativity in your work, and for God’s kingdom. Point the way to hope and light.

5. Love Christ’s Church
Whether “church” is an existing community, a new community, Christ’s body at large or just your close friends, love the church. Speak well of her. Trust that your service and stewardship are never in vain. Learn more about what “church” means to you, and then go love it.

 

Here’s to a full heart and full floor, this year and every year, by God’s grace alone.

Thank you to everyone who made my birthday weekend so special and FUN. 25 is already the best year yet thanks to you.

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