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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

On gratitude, and accepting life’s challenge to be brave

Sometimes Institutions are filled with real people. Occasionally they are good. I know; I found one. Imagine having to suppress who you are and play a role to achieve a particular outcome. Some of us do it all the time. It’s called assimilating. It’s called code switching. It’s a survival skill. It is exhausting.

It’s also a necessary reality. But because I have worked hard to be my essential self, unifying all the parts of who I am into my most authentic self, I am less likely to be concerned about being who I am, for the most part. I want not to need to be a chameleon. Sometimes you cannot help yourself. This was one of those times. Those time when I remove all but my necessary jewelry. I clip my speech. I am direct, quiet, and unassuming. I want not to be noticed, to be memorable, but rather inoffensive. I simply want to get by.

Thank you for being effortlessly wonderful
at the time I most needed to believe...
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Nameless, faceless institutions have a reputation for sucking the lives out of souls. Imagine meeting an individual representative whom you discover almost immediately is indeed a person, and further and more remarkably, that she sees you as one as well.

A few months ago, I met a person. I found the experience so remarkable that the moment I was able to give back, I did. Not only did I make a referral, I wrote a thank you note because I could not do otherwise. It surprised me that my show of gratitude came as a surprise, until I remembered that the rules we learned in Kindergarten are not always the rules by which we play, those being, according to poet Robert Fulghum, 




These are the things I learned:
Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Flush.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life -
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.

I am grateful for kindergarten; I am grateful for those lessons. I am indebted to the person who clearly learned them well, and in working was brave enough to be fully herself, present, engaged, interested.  

This is a story about gratitude, and accepting life’s challenge to be brave. You may never know whose life you are touching while caught in the act of being yourself. Be yourself anyway. It might not be well received, but it might be just the ray of hope that someone needs to believe

  • ·         that Spring will come again;
  • ·         that the sun will rise after such a long night;
  • ·         that a door closing does not mean that another will never open;
  • ·         that careers and lives are comprised of second, third, fourth, fifth, and perhaps even     sixth acts. Maybe trilogies. Perhaps a symphony.

So, to the person who extended herself as my lifeline, the one who treated me with kindness not because of who I was but because of who she is, I say thank you. Thank you for affirming that sometimes the biggest risk you can take is to be yourself. Not ambivalently, not arrogantly, but authentically. Genuinely. Risking everything to say, “yes, this is whom God made, and He couldn’t be wrong, so I’ll just have to trust Him and be me.” 

Thank you for being effortlessly wonderful at the time I most needed to believe that people make up the institutions we often navigate to get through life. Just thanks. I hope we become friends.


Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)



OneWord 2015

OneWord 2015

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