Hi everyone! Happy New Year!
Now, I don’t typically think of myself as much of a resolutions person despite my last post, but I do find that the new year, and the holidays in general, make for a good time to reflect, partly because holidays are full of traditions and expectations, which often lead to reflection by comparison, and partly because all the extra time with friends and family usually makes you think about what matters most.
I’ve got to admit, this year was a bit of a bumpy ride. Don’t get me wrong, it was the first Christmas that my brother has been able to be here in five years, having moved across the country about that same number of years ago, and I got the extremely generous surprise of additional days off from work from an extremely generous boss, so I was nothing short of blessed this season, but I was also extremely challenged sometimes by my own heart, both in the face of my own difficulties earlier in the year, days of extremely poor sleeping habits, and my surprising ingratitude in the face of some of those blessings.
In the face of this strange emotional roller coaster, I’ve been rediscovering a few things, lessons that, as I’ve long since realized, I need to be reminded of again and again and again and again (and probably so on and so forth until I die).
- To stop putting the cart before the horse.
- To learn to lean and rely on those around me.
- To remember the love gap.
So, in order.
Stop putting the cart before the horse
So, true confessions here, a little while ago, I got myself into a rough little funk. My sleep schedule had been really bad, I’d had several things building, I wasn’t feeling super well, and I finally just reached, well, a tipping point. It was not fun.
But, in the midst of it, it did remind me of the importance of lesson one, which is: Don’t put the cart in front of the horse.
The crux of this lesson is this. I’m a Christ follower. I want to love people like He did. But if I don’t spend the one on one time with Him, if I don’t understand how truly loved I am first, let Him love me first, I’m never going to get there.
So, so, so, so, so so so so so so so many times, I get mad at myself for not being better at loving people, but then when God tries to love me, I don’t let him.
What the actual frick.
Like, seriously. If I won’t even let God, who is love, do what He does best (and, as a reminder, is) for me, how on earth do I expect lil’ ole dust to dust human me over here to do any better? If I don’t let Him show me what love is, who He is, and how to do it myself, how can I ever expect to learn?
Bottom line? I can’t.
More importantly, I don’t want to. If I don’t have Him, what’s the point?
On to lesson two.
Learning to rely on those around me
As someone who seems determined to take the universal crown of Miss Perfectionism, it can be really, really hard for me to admit when things are going hard for me (not that you’d know from everything I throw up on this blog, haha, but hey, perk of being a reader? Maybe? Hm. Anyway.). There are a few reasons for this, about which I’m sure I could write several more blogs, but the point is, when I’m struggling with things, I tend not to let too many other people know.
Because of this, I often don’t realize the support networks that I actually have in place.
And as anyone who has ever spent an extended period alone or in their head knows, that can put you in a bad space.
But when I actually break down and ask for help, what do you know, it’s there. Always.
A goal for this year that I didn’t mention in my last post (mostly because I hadn’t thought of it yet) is to deepen my relationships. I think because I’m afraid of the risk that relationships entail, the vulnerability, time, effort, conflict, or even heartbreak that can be involved, I tend to keep people a little farther away than I should.
This is not a good thing. Not only does it leave me vulnerable when I’m going through things, it also just means I’m not being a good friend.
And I want to be a good friend.
The love gap
The more global lesson of all this, I guess you could say, is a lovely little thing I like to call the love gap.
It’s a term I’ve started using when dealing with difficult people or situations.
“Well, they’ve got a big love gap.”
What it means, is this: Most of the crappy things humans do is because they don’t know how loved they are.Tweet
I’ll use myself as an example.
Because I don’t fully realize just how much God loves me and that I don’t have to earn it, I can be a perfectionist.
Because of that, I sometimes carry burdens God doesn’t have for me, and rag on someone he dearly loves (myself) when I fail to reach those standards.
It’s also why I so harshly judge others, why I often care more about myself and how I’m feeling than others and how they feel, why I can lack compassion, act selfishly, or be greedy, prideful, and resentful.
Now, of course I’m not all of those things all of the time, but I can be all of them at least some of the time.
I’ve got a love gap.
And so do you, and your neighbor, and coworker, local policeman, and everyone else.
It’s a useful thing to know about.
Not only because it’s helpful in dealing with others (how can you help close their love gap, how can you be more compassionate or understanding because you know it’s just their gap, etc.), but also because it’s extremely useful in self-reflection.
I get so down on myself sometimes for not being a better or more loving person.
But the problem isn’t that I’m some terrible, irredeemable person or some unsalvageable soul. It’s that I’ve got a love gap.
And I’ll never fill it if I keep putting the cart before the horse.
Or if I don’t rely on the people around me–the ones that love me and see what I can’t–to hold me up, help me, love me, and fill that gap.
What do you know. Three days into the new year and I’m (re-)learning already.
Thanks for reading.
So, how about you? Have you learned anything new this year already? Had anything you’ve been ruminating on as we head into it? Goals or resolutions? What about times when you’ve struggled to put the cart in its proper place, had grace for yourself and your gap, or had grace for others and theirs? Tell me in the comments below, and if you want more content about me, my faith, writing, or all the nerdy things I love, feel free to follow me here or on social media (on a break from those) using the links in the sidebar or below.