Taking Off, Putting On

What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself in 2015? 

Di sits in the passenger seat, her black overnight bag at her feet. We’re driving into the city, weaving slowly southward in the darkening twilight of January 1st.

Ooh, I nod, eyes on the road still, watching the lights beyond me turn red in slow succession. That’s a good question. 

Well, you stumped me with ‘who is the funniest person you know’ last night, she exclaims, and I laugh then, remembering the moments she spent in silence, agonizing over who might be the funniest person in her life.

She never did come up with an answer.

But we talk then, about learning, and changing, and knowing oneself, and then, as the swaying flow of traffic pulls us slowly deeper into the heart of the city, a follow-up question forms, settling pleasantly in the air between us.

What are you taking off and putting on in the new year?

She answers first, talking about fear, boldness, friendships she treasures, habits she’ll continue to cultivate.

Then, leaning back against the seat, she looks over at me. What about you?

I have my answer ready.

I want to be more giving, I tell her. Of my time. Of kindness. Of my resources. The stories, the truths, the battles, the losses, and the near misses that make my life my own; the very same things that I so often guard, keep to myself. I want to share those things, too, I tell her, because relationships are built on sharing lives, and that’s a good thing. 

Di listens, nodding emphatically, murmuring the hushed tones of ascent that I’m accustomed to.

I want to take off being entitled, I tell her, feeling the conviction of my words settling into my heart as I speak.

I feel entitled to be entitled. And even as I say it, I know that it’s true.

I hear myself, barely weeks ago, sharps words of frustration spilling over into my classroom, all the while I tell myself it’s okay- I’m entitled to let my anger set the tone in the room.

I’m entitled, I tell myself,  to quiet time. To someone else taking out the trash. To children who do what I ask them to do. To parking that is less than a half mile from my apartment.

But that’s not true, of course. Not at all. I’m entitled to nothing.

So this year, as the days slip from January to February, and then beyond, I’m taking off what I believe I should have, and putting myself into the place I know so well.

The place of Christ’s grace, my brokenness, and the thrill, the power, the joy of knowing Him more, seeing Him work more, with every passing day.

And from that, I know, will come a spirit of giving,

and so much more.




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