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Note to Self

A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with someone transitioning away from Desert Vineyard.  Their family has been a part of our church family for years, but now they are moving out of state.  The one regret they shared was that they did not get more involved sooner; they are leaving at a moment when they feel more connected than ever before, and just wish that they had started building those bonds sooner.  This person has a very healthy viewpoint and wants to learn from this experience by planning to join in groups and serving opportunities as soon as they can at their new church.  What a great note to self: join!

As I reflected on their story, I was reminded of my early days at the Desert Vineyard when I was a newlywed so excited to be building our life together.  These were the years when Martha Stewart set the standard for interior design, housekeeping, cooking and gardening, and I did my best to measure up.  I was almost always ready with a word of advice from Martha (or a more budget-friendly version), a helping hand to complete a project, or an invitation to a complex meal.  There came a time, when in a moment of desperation, I shared a genuine struggle in our marriage and how I was feeling like a failure; to me this was the worst kind of admission of weakness.  Remarkably, instead of betraying myself, that moment of honesty led to connection, strength, and transformation.  Note to self: don't just be there, be open.

I see this "note to self" trend come and go online with public figures and everyday folks writing notes to their former selves in order to take hold of and pass along wisdom from all kinds of mistakes, regrets, and positive growth experiences.  They often include phrases like, "be kinder to yourself" or "don’t be so hard on yourself."  Sometimes they reach outward with themes of kindness and patience toward fellow parents, future generations, and others.  In the most developed ideas, these notes provide a holistic framework for balanced self-care, work, faith, and good citizenship based on the writer's own experience and a wealth of collected wisdom.

Pooling our collected wisdom is one of the ways in which we benefit from life in community.  When we are willing to share the honest and vulnerable stories from our lives, they can help bind us together through common struggles, see the world and issues from different perspectives, value one another and feel less alone.  Certainly social media is one way to share our stories--it is probably where you found this one--but, I have found that it cannot replace the connections found in person.

Serving alongside one another is where I have learned the most and built the strongest relationships, especially serving through a time of personal difficulty or challenges within the ministry.  In tough times, we are forced to depend on the Lord and on one another such that those bonds have both more strength and elasticity.  Trust is forged so that I have confidence to face future challenges, knowing that I will not be alone.  I look to the wisdom of friends and faith rather than cultural icons for my lifestyle advice and standard of success.  All of the notes to all of the selves begin to bring harmony and balance and resilience to my life.

Perhaps today you are seeking wisdom and can take these notes to heart:
  • Join!
  • Don't just be there, be open.
Or perhaps you are in a position where you have some notes to give, in which case I invite you to add them in the comments where we can keep collecting and learning from one another.

Then I encourage us all to share in person with a group or serve team or just a cup of coffee with someone at church so we can pool that wisdom and strengthen some bonds together.

1 Comment

Anjeanine - August 4th, 2021 at 8:32pm

Practice gratitude - daily!



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