Wednesday, June 29, 2016

circled on the calendar

Welcome to part one.  Rest assured there is no cliff hanger at the end as some 'to be continued' episodes like to use to torture you.  At the end of these few paragraphs from my heart you will not be left with anger from your imagination being cut off before the conclusion or maybe not even racked with anticipation that keeps you on the edge of your seat until next Wednesday, though personally that would be one of the best compliments ever.  Instead, I hope you are left with a thought to ponder, like when your professor at the end of class throws out a "make sure to check out chapter so and so" before the next class, which almost always happens in movies and on Gilmore Girls, but almost never happened in my own collegiate experience.  Read, and while reading, I hope you will substitute your information for mine and therefore allow my story and heart to disappear as you see yours in its stead.

Since the beginning we have had this thing called a day.  Ever since God called the light day and the darkness night.  Ever since there was an evening and a morning, one day. GrantedL it was a little bit longer until He was not the only one who was enjoying it, but He set up this system, this ability to know when one period of time stops and another begins.

Recently in one of those random car discussions that you still are not sure how it got started we were talking about days.  How did people discover or decide that 24 hours made one whole day.  Or that 365 of them made a year?  Why have them in the first place?  The 'without having to check google while driving' cop out answer I gave was because a long time ago men more intelligent than I said so but the emotional from the heart answer that followed after was so that we can remember.

As years go by we all compile a list of dates that mean something, that do something to our hearts.  

Some bring nothing but smiles and stomachs full of excited butterflies.  Dates that we circle on the calendar in red so that they don't rush by forgotten.  Dates that bring about the anniversary of something wonderful.  Dates that will bring a new adventure or remind us of the friends and family that we will be seeing soon. At times there are ones that many people celebrate simultaneously like the entire world with the opening of a globally celebrated Olympics, our entire country with the founding of our nation, an historical church family and their summer campmeeting, or a birthday surrounded by family and friends.  Still others you might celebrate on your own.  They may not be cause for a party but the memory of them brings a smile to your face and hope to your heart.  The day you met your significant other, the day you found out you were cancer free, and a million other dates that are personal and while insignificant to another are wildly significant to your life and who you are becoming.

Not every date you have ingrained in your memory brings about such feelings of happiness and anticipation.  There are those other dates that carry along anniversaries and upcoming events as well but aren't celebrated with fireworks, fancy cakes, and presents.  Those dates don't have to be encircled in red physically because emotionally you can't help but feel the pressure of the pen on your heart.  

Thankfully some of those days we do get to remember with the support of a multitude.  Veterans have an outpouring of support as they struggled with December 7th or June 6th and the many other difficulty days in military history.  Members of the same country can stand together in love and encouragement on September 11th, June 12th, June 17th, and the many many other times attacks have happened without provocation that taught others to love their neighbor better than they had been before.

But just as we each have personal days that bring smiles, we each have days that bring dread and tears and are too often remembered alone as the world around you seems to go about their daily lives without a hitch.  Dates will come looming around a corner that we might do anything to forget.  Remembering is painful, remembering takes us back, remembering hurts and instead of feeling like ourselves we feel lost or confused or paralyzed until 12:01 am appears and the date on the calendar is not one that we recognize as a defining point.  

I refuse to trivialize those times.  Life is hard is a statement we all understand but no one no matter how well intentioned can truly get what another is feeling.  Humans will say stupid and unhelpful things, friends will walk alongside, counselors will give wise words, books will give advice and examples of another's struggle with a similar event but there is only One who understands our heart and only One who can sympathize with it.  Get over it is a phrase I'll never use, but lay it down is one I'll go to again and again, and one that has to be done again and again before the deal is done.  There is no timeline for healing from any hardship no matter the situation.  Some may run, some may walk, some may crawl and some may get stuck several times along the journey.  And as difficult as it is those days, Hope is still present. that promise never left, and laying those hurts at the feet of Jesus and learning to see those day through a different lens allows a beautiful ending to come no matter what date is on the calendar.

A since-childhood friend posed a question recently wondering if listing goals makes a person more accomplished, more apt to complete those goals listed. While making lists is number one on my list of favorite pastimes, my answer was a resounding "I don't know" and not because I don't think it works but because that's not why it works.  Writing down a date, circling it on the calendar, isn't what brings joy or sorrow, in the same way listing goals won't make your accomplish them. It's the same heart-filled answer I mentioned earlier and bears repeating.  It helps you remember.  And whether those memories bring anticipation or dread right now, I pray one day that each of them will enable you to remember what has been accomplished, give encouragement for what is being achieved, remind you that God never stopped working and make you thankful for what has been done and what we are promised will come.

Matthew wrote "but of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but Father alone."  While he's referring to next coming of Christ, I can't help but think about how it relates to my now.  I can circle, I can plan, I can remember the past, but I don't know what will happen on any certain day.  I can only Trust the One who made the moon for the seasons and the sun to know the place of its setting (Psalm 104:19)

Part two will share dates of happiness, dates of sorrow, but more importantly my favorite dates of all, a day where you are given the gift to see something new about yourself, the day something in your heart changes as finally the things God has been revealing culminates into a beautiful picture that sets a milestone in your heart and soul.  

Until then think about your own days, your own dates, your own anticipations and dreads, and how you can ask to remember them in a different way.

Pray for me, I'll be praying for you.

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