Reach for it, just one more time

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes of missed planes, shades of red lipstick, bikes stolen, oil changes, moving boxes, candles burned, miles in my converse, Taylor Swift’s 1989 album, croissants eaten, dinners in bed, cups of tea. 

By the end of a year, we do more than count the minutes.The minutes count us.

Reflecting on a year of life has been like the resonance of an old piano. It is gracious enough to let you linger in the sound, even after the chords are struck. We are never able to accurately judge how bursting at the seams our lives are. Full beyond measure and reckless to grip.

Time is like a bee that chases you around the yard in summer

You run around wild and aimless, and all the while it’s unaware of you. You spin, you stop, it brushes your arm. Sometimes I wish that my flailing arms would make it take notice of me. Maybe it would stay in fascination. Maybe it would give me a gift. But it flies off.

All I have to show for time is a few driver’s license pictures and an unfortunate passport photo taken less than a week after getting my wisdom teeth out. Timing is everything. When it’s all said and done, aren’t the awkward photos really the ones we should keep?

As I enter 2016, a line from Levi Lusko echoes in my mind: “Hard times are a passport.”  A singular event that leaves you reeling can open a door to the totally unexpected. The times of mourning can lead to avenues of new understanding. The darkness precedes the dawn. How are we not used to this rhythm of growth? You would think we’d come to expect it by now.

When disappointment shatters my stained glass hope, it always feels like the first time. I think it’s because we were born with a predisposition to keep the door open to light. Even just a shred of it makes us feel safe. When we close the door and the candle extinguishes, we despair and fail to find ourselves in the dark.

What are you keeping the door open to this year?

For me, it’s dreams I’ve written off as unattainable for financial reasons. I’ve wanted to study theology at Oxford since I graduated from college. I’ve always written it off as an impossible dream, or as my self talk goes: “Wanting something like that is just selfish.” Does it sound like that in your head too?

But as the dream has resurfaced this year, I’ve realized that its not just circumstances that slam doors shut. It’s us. And I’ve gotten slightly better at knocking louder in my prayer life. I’ve been a little more persistent with achieving goals. I’ve risked more times when I'm afraid to share a different opinion in conversations, and knocked louder at people’s front doors.  I suspect that maybe, just maybe, God would like us to clear our throats and say what we want with more conviction.

I don’t know of a single person who needs less encouragement on being bold in this new year. Ok, Donald Trump, but that’s about it. Last year’s new year’s resolution was dead simple: “Wear more red lipstick.” Does it sound silly? Good. It doesn’t matter what your New Year’s resolution sounds like to other people. It’s the only project you’re exclusively responsible for and you better sell it to yourself, because you’re the only one that needs to believe it.

It’s time to turn on all the lights in your house and swing the door open to possibility

Maybe last year for you was indescribably hard. Maybe your heart took a major hit. You lost someone. You failed a big project at work. You broke the engagement off. You had to pick your relative up from rehab, a second time. You got in another big ugly fight with your spouse. But let me tell you something. Hope is not a unicorn. It doesn’t arise shrouded in mist when you’re doing something special to provoke it into existence. It appears when you’re desperate, in the eleventh hour, on the floor of a dark closet when you can’t pull your sh*t together.

Hope is pressing your call light in the hospital and believing that someone is coming for you. It’s not magic, it’s just asking for help when you need it. I pray when I’m in need of hope. Maybe that’s not something you do, but it doesn’t hurt to try it. Ann Lamott introduces us to this special formula for prayer that I like to follow: “Help, Thanks, Wow.” As you’ve noticed, “Help” is the first. If that’s where you have to start out this new year, so be it.

You’ve got to reach for it (And P.S.) You’re going to need help

Make a plan. Sometimes it feels embarrassing to admit what you want, like the act of trying will look foolish if you don’t stick the landing. It’s vulnerable to let people in. Just last week I was standing in front of the elevator at my apartment with two bags slung over each shoulder, a rolling suitcase dragging behind me and a bag of trash I kept dropping. A nice looking man asked if I needed help (the struggle was obvious to him).  I said “Nope!” and very hurriedly pressed the 4th floor button, regretting it the entire way. Don’t be like me. Ask for help, for the love of God!

Find someone in life who is your own personal cheerleader of hope, or bag carrier, and be open to their help. I always need reminding of this as I am a glass-half-empty kind of girl. Ignore the odds for one time in your life and do something you believe in. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Stretch your arms out on the edge of a cliff because it feels like the right thing to do. Ask God teach you trust in the wild thickets of life. Ask Him to help you sing out against the inevitability of time and to teach you the things you don’t know.