sharing time: 2011’s lessons for me

Posted: January 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

It’s January 8…how are you New Year’s Resolutions coming along?

As for me, I still don’t yet have any firm resolution for 2012.  I’m pushing something around in my head, talking it over with the Lord, and He seems to be shaping it along the way.  Meanwhile, I’m not ready to talk about it yet, because in talking I might place artificial parameters around it.

But it’s not too late to do one last 2011 blog – tonight I’d like to share with you some of the things the Lord has been showing me and teaching me in the past year (and if this goes like it usually does, when I’m done writing I will understand what I know better than I did when I started.)  In no particular order (other than I KNOW which one is last, because it’s biggest to me), here are Karen’s favorite lessons from 2011:

Mercy toward church peeps – It has been relatively easy for me over the years to extend large amounts of grace and mercy toward unchurched folks, no matter how they behaved.  I could look past major malfunctions and transgressions and even crimes, seeing beyond the bad behavior and into the brokenness.  I could feel compassion and empathy even when I was the one getting hurt by someone’s choices.  But when it came to church folks…that was a whole other story.  I had major expectations for what they should know and how they should go, and I persistently felt frustrated and irritated by my expectations not being met.  The truth was that all along, I wasn’t living up to my own standards any better than those around me…but hey, when it’s judging time, who brings a mirror, eh?

My time at JPUSA relieved me of this problem.  Our church was our home was our community was our coworkers was our dining room was our neighbors and on and on.  There wasn’t this artificial thing we do of “now I’m at church, now I’m not” – this is perhaps my very favorite thing about living in the JPUSA community.  Having sung I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together my whole childhood in Sunday school hadn’t brought the point home to me; living in community made it crystal clear.  A pastor had told me back some time around 2002 that the church is “a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints,” and I STILL hadn’t truly understood it.  The church is not a set-aside place where people have it figured out and live right.  It’s a collection of people with all their brokenness, craziness and baggage, gathered together in Christ to worship Him and encourage one another in the faith.  Of course it’s a giant train wreck.  Of course we are almost always getting at least part of it wrong.  Of course people get hurt.  Letting go of my expectations that these things should not be true (and coming to understand that I am as much the reason for the dysfunction as anyone else is) has given me freedom and has drawn my compassion up out of its stingy well and into the open world, where even nice church people can touch it.  Pretty cool.

The little stuff is huge – I learned this in my journey of letting the Lord teach me to love my body, in which love is one little choice after one little choice, small, mundane, unspectacular, unnoticeable each within themselves, yet somehow adding up to a whole new me.  I learned this in walking beside many people amidst their excruciating pain – it’s not the huge lofty stuff that makes the difference.  It’s the ordinary, unglamorous, tedious little bits of goodness.  It is in my nature to lean toward the epic, the notable, the profound.  But none of that is where the rubber meets the road.  The little stuff is HUGE, and anytime we pretend it isn’t, we give away opportunities to watch God do miracles.

I don’t know what my future holds (but I know Who holds it) – I’ve been learning this lesson over and over for somewhere around a decade.  I thought I had it down.  Then God called me away from the place to which He had called me, which also happened to be the place where I was planning to grow old.  It feels like maybe I finally understand:  I don’t know what my future holds.  I don’t know what next year looks like, much less 10 years from now.  For the moment, I am done guessing.  I have some hopes, but He has taught me many times over that His ways always surpass my hopes.  So I hold those hopes loosely, and I pin none of my happiness to them.  Here’s what’s cool:  it is an utterly joyous thing, when the not knowing is paired with certainty that the Lord will walk me through.  While life has frequently gotten harder for me over time in some ways, it has also consistently gotten better (and pretty much never in the ways I thought it would.)  So I’ll walk, I’ll trust, I’ll go where He sends me, stay where He puts me.  It’s enough.  More than enough.

Problems can be solved without my help – as a lifelong codependent, this one has been hard for me to wrap my head around.  But in 2011 a lot of people who mean everything to me went through trials and pools of pain so deep that I won’t even spell them out on the page here.  There was virtually nothing I could do about it, in almost every case.  That’s a hard thing for a recovering super-hero to say.  In each case, “all I could do was pray.”  We say that like it’s nothing.  “All I can do is pray.”  Like it’s a front row seat to last place in the race.  Like it’s small and weak and powerless.  And I guess IT IS…where WE are concerned.  We are small and weak and powerless (and I’ll throw foolish in for free, while we’re at it).  The thing is:  God is none of these.  All I can do is pray, and ask the one who breathed creation into being to handle it.  The one who knows the whole situation better than anyone inside or outside of it.  The one who never gets confused about the difference between love and manipulation/neediness/fear.  The one whose power outmatches ours by so much that our tiny minds cannot even grasp the difference.  Yeah….all I could do was pray.  And looking back, it’s easy to see that He was more than able, and far beyond willing, to step in and do what I could not do.  Here’s to taking my hands off and shutting my mouth and letting Him work.  May I hold this lesson well (and may you, too!)

I am a daughter of the King – I had to save this one for last, because it has been HUGE in 2011 for me, and He’s still working it into me hard as I cross into 2012.  I am a daughter of the King – one whom He deemed worthy of the sacrifice of His son.  Not an awful, ugly piece of junk that He reaches for while covering His eyes and holding His nose.  I am a daughter of the King, beautiful in His eyes, bearing abundant gifts simply by nature of my connection to Him.  I learned it at JPUSA, watching people treasure one another and hearing the old stories of what the Lord had brought them through.  I learned it from my family as they rearranged their worlds to welcome me home for visits while I lived away.  I learned it from friends who went the extra mile to maintain relationship with me when I was not near.  I learned it in exploring my singlehood differently than I ever had before.  I learned it from my coworkers as they prepared a homecoming for me.  I learned it while listening to some married men friends as they let God work out in them the business of being husbands and fathers.  And one of the loudest voices of this message in my life has been and continues to be my boss, who somehow is a walking, talking, flashing neon billboard for the cause, not just for me but (as far as I can tell) for anyone in the circle of his influence.  I am a daughter of the King, and with that comes worth and peace and provision and the honor of a very real mantle of responsibility.  It changes the way I talk to myself and about myself.  It causes me to no longer play along with voices of derision and condemnation when they come my way.  It floods me with the serious charge of spreading the message to other daughters and sons of the King who don’t yet understand the gift of who they are.  Oh, I expect this one to be a huge theme in the coming year.  You can expect to see more of it here, I think.

So those are MY biggest and best lessons from 2011.  What did YOU carry out of the year?  I love it when you tell me!

much love


  1. There is so much to this post, and it’s quite possibly THE VERY BEST of your writing I have read thus far. Which is saying A LOT. You regularly blow me away with the way you dance with this wild alphabet and weave words and thoughtsandfeelings and ideas and whole galaxies of concepts…

    The whole notion of resolutions and making them for a whole entire year when we’ve just barely slid into Home from another makes me feel nauseous. It is almost a certainty that we’ll fall on our face so often at the outset that our poor addled brain won’t even REMEMBER that it was thus resolved!!

    One of the things I am in process of DOing for 2011 is very similar to this idea. I’ve been working on a sort of “report card” for 2011. NOT grading, simply reporting, in that broader view way that I did report cards when I was teaching K-4. A’s and B’s and all don’t even come into the mix. It’s more like lessons, like what you have graced us with here.

    And, while you could call my word-for-the-year some sort of a resolution, I see it more as a guide, a map of the museum [or zoo] which tells what’s there. I get to pick and choose what I want to see and where and when I go there. So, for me, Discipline, my word for 2012, has revealed some rather amazing-to-me insights already.

    I know that as I was winding-up 2011, I spent some long stretches QUIETLY. I allowed myself the time to LISTEN in the QUIET. I didn’t judge or label or turn away from anything. I let it BE and come to me as it did. This was a different way to play, especially for me, the clipboard and checklist-carrying ME.

    I love how your lessons fell so easily into categories. Having said that, I notice that mine can, too, if I allow them to. That’s a BIG lesson for me. In 2011 I learned that I am so DIFFERENT and remarkably SIMILAR. To EVERYone. ALL THE TIME.

    I was thinking yesterday, while in the midst of a wee creative whirlwind, that it would BE very interesting to write an essay for each week of 2012. NOT for a blog or anything that I’d share and expose to the World-At-Large, for ME, for when I, God Willing, arrive at the end of 2012 and wonder what all happened and when and how and what it meant to ME.

    The discovery, then, of YOUR post in my emailbox this morning, tells me where that idea was blowing in from. It also encourages me to Just DO It.

    Thank YOU oh so much. Your writing always gives me pause and deepens my feelings of connection.

    love right back atchya!!!

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