My life now is comprised of beginnings all tangled up in endings. I don’t know exactly where one begins and the other ends. And to be perfectly honest, I am not sure anyone else actually knows what is the beginning and what is the ending either.
I am asked to lead by example for my school, my team, my younger sibling while at the same time I am asked to define and refine my “reach” and my “safety”. Future… a place I have lived in comfortably for many years now has suddenly changed from an exclamation point to a question mark. I was always happily running to the next step. Can’t wait until I am 5 years old, so I can ride the big yellow bus. Can’t wait until I lose my first tooth. Can’t wait until I ride a two-wheeler by myself. Can’t wait until I am 13, then I will be a teenager. Can’t wait until I am 16, so I can drive whenever and wherever I want. Can’t wait to be a senior, so I can rule the school. So many days that I crossed off the calendar with exclamation points!
Ask me anything about where I am now and I have all of the answers. Things I did not know four years ago are like second nature to me. I navigate my school hallways with ease. Ask me questions about where I am going and I give stock answers. I am unsure and the truth is, I really don’t know. Now, I find I am in the middle place, kind of stuck between winning the race but being held at the start line because it is not yet my turn.
Instead of asking me questions about where I am going to college or my senior quote, senior picture, senior field trip, senior lunch, senior shampoo, please be patient with me while I try and figure it out. Smile at me and don’t forget to tell me when I have done a good job today, because today really matters in my world. Today is where I live. Today is where I love. Today is where I meet up with my friends and laugh. Today is where I look over to you to see if you saw what I just did out there. Today is where I smile and share and stress and try and cry. Today, for me, is all I’ve got. Tomorrow is coming. I know it is there. Please do not feel like you need to be constantly reminding me to plan for tomorrow. Believe me, it is like the big bad wolf and the best birthday present at the same time, all wrapped up in one! My future waits for me but my present is who I am. It becomes who I become. While I am running to my next place, please help me enjoy the moments in between. The wake ups at home, the homecoming weeks, the victories with my teams, staying up late with my sister solving the world’s problems, the tests, the trials, the silly laughter, the A’s and the F’s, the smell of your cooking, my dog’s excitement when I walk in the room, seeing you in my mirror saying “be safe” as I leave the driveway. These are the things that are making me “me”. The me I have come to be is not only so special to you, but I am special to me because of all of those small, but important things wrapped up in my present. I am excited for where I am going next. Until then, let’s love and live in the little in between times because honestly, when the date on my calendar comes and I pack my bags and set off on my own journey pursuing whatever future is knocking at my door, it is those tiny moments that I am making now that make the future me.
Today myself, my community and my children woke to the sad news that a bright beautiful senior at my kid’s school was killed in a car accident overnight. How? Why? Disbelief. Shock. Sadness. So much tragedy… so, so much that sometimes my heart swells up and breaks in half, no words, no breath. We are left wondering why does this happen? The soldier who comes home with only a folded flag to give a fellow soldier’s family, my best friend imprisoned in a wheelchair as her body stops working a little bit more each day, my father who got a call with results he hoped would not come this soon. All of it too soon. Why does God let it happen? I tried to get my head around it. I laced up my running shoes and set off for the trail. It is always a good place to think, reflect and pray when all of this sadness was at my heels. When I sat on the bench to get my music started I heard two old men talking about their churches. They are good friends, they are here walking often together and they worship at two different places. One man was saying his church had good music, and they agreed that the other one did not. But it did have Johnny and apparently Johnny is really good thing to have. Living in the south you come to realize that we are all believers. We don’t all go to the same church but we have the same God. We have the shared sorrows as well. We all pray. As I set off I kept thinking that we are one family of believers. On my next loop around the trail I decided to stop and ask these men to pray with me for the family that lost their daughter last night. Total strangers to me but brothers and sisters in Christ. It filled me with renewal that God never leaves us alone. We have a tremendously large family of support. His command is to love, and we need to keep that command by giving it, but also by receiving it. What do we do when we are the ones left here on earth? Imagine that each day you are given a pack of seeds. Sowing these seeds of faith could be as simple as a text to check in on someone, or driving right into a friends driveway and walking up to their door with the intention of only a hug and an offer of a shoulder to share the burden. Our sensitive hearts together make us strong. When my kids got home from school they told me about a ceremony that they had at school today in honor and memory of their fellow student. In just a few hours our community had come together remembering her, praying on bended knee for her family and released hundreds of white balloons on the football field. I am awed and honored to be a part of a community of faith and support like the one we live in. Will the path to heaven be lined with joy and jubilation when we arrive to fist bumps and high fives? I do not know but I do know that as one body in Christ, we sow the seeds until then, scattering them everyday.
This is gonna sound a little (or a lot) crazy, but I love getting old. I actually am fond of the “age” that I see smile back at me in reflection. I looked in the mirror the other day and saw the shiny silvery-sheen highlights in my dark hair made from packing and unpacking moving boxes in anticipation of the next adventure with my husband’s new job, the crease in my forehead made from gazing out at my children playing in the sun or learning to ride a bike–the feeling in my heart when they fell and got right back up again and finally the triumph of pushing one foot, then the other as they glided down the path on two wheels. I saw the spots where the sun kissed my face while building sandcastles on the beach, digging holes large enough to engulf children to their knees in the sand and from applying countless amounts of sunscreen and hats. I saw the slightly droopy-firm arms that were made from holding my son for hours in the NICU, not wanting to let go or go home, and from laying in bed with my daughter holding a book overhead and reading until my tired voice cracked because we just needed to see what happened next to our friend Ruby Lavender, or from standing in ready to dole out hugs as they both bounded off the big yellow school bus sharing tales of their day at recess or lunch or latest creation in art class. I saw wrinkly hands from holding treasures found in the woods, seashells at the beach, and little sticky fingers grabbing up for guidance along life’s path. I saw my not-so-perfect middle from growing two little souls in a safe and healthy belly of love, and from standing at the playground pushing a swing back-and-forth, back-and-forth, back-and-forth instead of running around the block in my running gear, or from driving from home to school, to dance, to cross country, to cheer practice, to piano. I saw legs strong, but a bit crinkled from sitting on floors for hours building lego towers, crouching down to kiss a boo boo, quietly bending to knees to pray for God’s hand in the new job, the big test, the tryout, the meet… I saw sneakers in place of heels, I saw a pony tail in place of the latest coiff, I saw yoga pants and t shirt in place of a snappy business suit. And you know what? I looked, I saw, I noticed, I remembered, I hoped, I dreamed, I loved, I lived, I thanked God for it all. Best of all, when I saw all of that looking back at me-I smiled! I’ll take that and more. Grayer, Wrinklier, Crinklier… Happy, Full, Grateful!