I was too young to remember the funerals of my biological Omas, but today I attended the funeral of my Oma-Friend (as she would sign off her letters), and I want to talk about it.
Not because I enjoy morbid topics, or because her life changed the world (although it did change mine, and for the better), or even because I am one of the few people who get the precious chance of a third Oma, but because I want a funeral like hers.
They say you never stop learning. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what you’re learning while you’re learning it! Often I come away from a season in my life with the sense that I’ve just learned something. That my character has been shaped, that my knowledge has grown… but am unable to put into words exactly what.
That’s why I Iove reflection. Over the last few months there’s been an increasing pressure on my soul because I learnt something in 2017 that is important, and I don’t want it to dissipate as the calendar flips over. Instead I want to cradle this truth close as I march out into 2018. So here’s my attempt to put it down in letters on a white screen, so that the lesson might be worth the learning.
What 2017 taught me
2017 was full of projects
I recently went on a short holiday overseas with a few friends. It was relaxing, eventful, and a good break, plus a chance to step back a bit from the everyday and gain a wider perspective.
I really think however, that there is a way to holiday with God, and a way to holiday without Him. Life was created to be lived in step with our Creator. I fail at this all the time in day to day life, and because holidays present a unique mixture of challenges, it was something I wanted to think about beforehand.
This is neither a perfect nor an exhaustive list… but it was helpful for me, so perhaps it might be helpful for you.
“Just laugh or you’ll go mad.”
It’s advice I hear in hospital corridors and grocery stores. In this era of ‘political correctness’ there are a surprising number of opportunities to snigger at the antics of dementia patients, our children’s disobedience, or someone else’s misfortune. So where do we draw the line?
I recently posted over at Paradigm Shift, so head on over to continue reading this post!
‘Community.’ In certain circles (or communities!) the word ‘Community’ is a ‘buzzword’. I think as the years go by and technology gives us the freedom to be more isolated, Western society is beginning to realise the importance of community.
In one sense none of us can escape ‘community’. We all belong to one, even if it’s online or our membership is involuntary (ie. the community of our neighbourhood). We’re all part of wider bodies of people outside of our nuclear family, with which we have something in common (ie. location, gender, race, nationality – to name the obvious ones).
Body image. It’s an ‘in’ word, and means different things to different people. It’s also an easy word to pin onto someone else. They struggle with body image because they are… a teenager… female… overweight… underweight… single… In reality, however, we all struggle with body image.
Body image is (wait for it!) how we view our body. And as we all have opinions about the image we present to others and to ourselves, this post is applicable for all of us.
What is ambition?
When I think of ambition, I see someone fighting tooth and nail to get to the top of their career ladder… and to be honest, that’s not me.
When I think of ambition, I imagine an athlete, struggling to stay ahead of their peers, striving for Olympic gold… and to be honest, that’s not me.
When I think of ambition, I picture a work-a-holic father, shutting out his family and surviving on toast and beans in his desire for success… and to be honest, that’s not me.
And yet, I’ve come to realise over the years that ambition can take different forms. Or perhaps what I am about to describe is not ambition exactly – and yet ambition is the best word I’ve found so far to describe it.
Being unable to sleep at night because the ideas keep coming. I could do this, and that, and this again… that’s me.
I am impatient
A recent conversation with a co-worker brought to light part of my personality which I hadn’t really thought about much before.
Co-worker: “Do you make your bed every morning?”
Me: “No way!”
Co-worker: “I can’t leave the house without it made.”
Me: “But time is precious! I’m not going to waste ten whole minutes each day making my bed. Think what I could be doing instead!”
I’ve always known I was impatient. Friends have mentioned it. Family have told me so. I’ve felt it in myself – whether I’m waiting in a line or struggling with broken technology. Another incident brought it to mind shortly after:
There’s a book I’ve been writing for a long time, and it’s gone through many evolutions. It began when I was fifteen or sixteen and I read something online which made me wonder: what would the Sherlock Holmes series have been like if Holmes and Watson met during the Anglo-Afghan war?
Then I thought: what would it have been like for any two people of such distinct personalities to meet in a trench? What if a masterful, proud man was terrified of the war – what if he were battle shy or blood sick yet refused comfort? How would another character uncover his secret and comfort him?
But then I asked: well, what if there was more than this masterful character’s personality standing in the way? What if there was some huge social divide – and offering comfort became a question of morality rather than mere humanity?
What if the masterful, proud, terrified man was a murderer?
I find it hard to maintain friends.
Bear with me as I explain. I have friends from many different circles. Church, school, university, Bible studies, mission events, work and friends of friends. A few of these I know deeply, many I know well, and there are even more I would love to know better.
But it’s so hard.
You see, it is true that friendships are born of “much agreement, much disputation, and yet more personal liking” (in the words of George Elliot) – but they are also born of ‘shared time’.
Since moving over an hour away from almost all of my friends, I have discovered it is extremely hard to maintain a relationship when you never see a person face-to-face.
Don’t get me wrong – there are many, many ways to keep in contact. In one way this century makes it easier than ever before to have long-distance friendships. Facebook, email, text-messaging, Whatsapp… I could go on and on. I could also talk to my friends all day if I wanted via the radiofrequencies that zip invisibly across our skies.