It has been a year since I started this blog. While I haven’t posted a lot in the past month, I have been writing and thinking about what direction I would like to take in 2015. So many of the stories I wrote in 2014 could have “updates”; some good and some sad.
I could share that I saw the homeless man at Chipotle the other night and that he was just as kind and grateful as he was months ago. But I could also tell you about how shortly after seeing him, a woman dining in the restaurant complained about him until management asked him to leave.
The old brown house is still standing, but has a really big hole in the roof and looks more dilapidated than ever.
Caroline is just as involved and committed to the basketball team as she was to the soccer team and thankfully my new oven is working beautifully. Life still offers grief and delight and joy and struggle and I am thankful to be able to share it here with you.
Looking back has helped me to understand what I want to write about in 2015.
But first I have another update to share.
I did a double take at the gym the other morning. There she was in her long sleeve shirt and baggy spandex, spinning away on the elliptical with great determination. When I wrote about her on my blog a couple months ago, I really thought I wouldn’t see her again.
Deep down, I had hoped that maybe the reason I hadn’t seen this woman at the gym for so many months was because she was seeking help. She may have; I don’t know. All I know is that her struggle was still completely evident on that elliptical as I looked at her protruding hip bones and elbow joints. She didn’t look any different.
I sighed and climbed onto the treadmill and looked around at the early morning crowd. I immediately thought about the fact that the woman in the baggy spandex is at a disadvantage from the rest of us. Her struggle is obvious. It is easy to look at her and think, “She needs help,” or “Looks like she is still battling those same demons.”
But I can climb onto the treadmill, flash a kind smile to the person next to me, make small talk and laugh, and easily hide any of the demons I might be battling. I think so many of us can be masters at hiding. How many times have we heard some news about someone and said, “I had no idea THAT was going on.”
Life is messy. At times the mess and the pain take my breath away. The mess can weigh me down so much that I often find myself treading water in an emotional pool far from the shore of hope.
When I was about 12 years old, I remember someone looking at me with serious, confident eyes and saying, “Look, Lori. People don’t change. The sooner you understand that, the better you will be.”
I remember resisting such an opinion, but something in my heart grabbed onto that advice and filed it in my brain as “This is true.” And if I am honest, I have spent the rest of my life secretly filing away moments and incidents to prove to myself that this statement was in fact true.
Want to see some of the stories in the file?
Someone promises his family that he won’t drink again, until a month later, he is drinking again.
She promised she wasn’t lying, that she knows she struggled with that in the past, but she was all about truth now. Until I hear that she was caught in yet another lie and then lied about that.
He really was going to start exercising and taking care of himself this time especially after that warning from the doctor. He walked every morning for two weeks, but there he is again, sitting on the couch, eating and drinking stuff he shouldn’t.
Shall I keep going? I have the biggest file in my brain because I hold onto those things and then I convince myself that I can’t change either because the evidence shows that people don’t change.
And that is my project for 2015. I want to get rid of that file in my brain. I know sometimes people really don’t change. Some people spend their whole lives struggling with the same demons, and we never see redemption or healing this side of heaven. I know it is true SOMETIMES…but not always. There are legitimate stories of hope and healing and CHANGE. People who have lived life well, even if we never read about them or hear about them or meet them. We see memoirs on the best seller list or watch interviews with famous people who have followed their dreams and done radical things, but I know there are so many people out there who are faithfully living without a lot of fanfare and allowing God to transform their lives and hearts. Remember my story about Ruth and how well she lived in spite of a life-changing illness?
I want to tell more stories about people like Ruth. I imagine that we all know one person who either lives well or conquered a struggle and continues to be transformed and changed.
I want to hear those stories. And I want to retell them. And I want to replace the failure file with a file of HOPE. I want to retrain my brain and to believe that people really can change and become more of who God made them to be. Don’t we all want to hear about people who live well in spite of the mess?
I’m on a mission. I don’t know how many stories I will find of real redemption, but I know they are out there. Maybe you have some you would like me to retell?
Maybe I will be the one changed in the process.
As JJ Heller sings, “Let’s fight a good fight, train our eyes to find the light.”
Happy New Year!