The first post that started this whole messy writing business did not make it in the automatic sweep from blogger to the new website. Most of you weren’t with me then, so I offer this refresher from December 2013. This is why the blog is named Holding True. Enjoy, my friends.
Sunday church service. Pastor Sonny’s message was about breaking the past and embracing the future. Paul writing to the church at Philippi. Encouraging. Uplifting. Don’t give up. You’ve got this.
I needed it. Every word.
Let’s break it down into a conversational tone similar to what I heard in my head:
Look, I’m not perfect. No one is. Far be it from me to judge you. But honey, look, I figure if Jesus came all the way down here to do something for our lazy-butt, good-for-nothing souls and then loved us through it for the past 2000 years, well that should count for something. Listen up friends, the past is the past. Leave it there and move on. Forgive people who hurt you. Try to learn from it and move on.
Take it from me. I’ve struggled. I’ve sinned. I’ve hurt people. I’ve lied, but I’ve learned and try my best to serve the will of God in my life every day. I’m here to tell you that you should too. It’s time to be adults about this. To act like adults in our Christian walk. If you don’t believe me, I’m sure God will let you know.
Look at what you’ve been through; at what you’ve learned. You’ve learned, right? Reflect on your (insert age here) years on this planet. Have you tried to be a better person? Righted wrongs? Loved those dear to you? Tried your best? Remember that and don’t give up. You’ve come far, remember that.
Fast forward to work on Monday. Sitting at my desk between classes I could not help but dwell on this verse. You see, you don’t know me yet, but I’m a little, um, intense. (Insert eye roll from husband here.) I like the word intense because it sounds better than obsessed or fixated or fanatical. My youngest daughter is intense. I know this because, without fail, during the 45-minute bedtime routine she asks questions like “what’s dirt made out of?” and “who is God married to?” and “how does electricity work?” By the way, she’s 8 years old today. These questions were from her sixth year.
Intensity, or having a characteristic quality in a high degree, (i.e. curiosity) serves me well in that I’m a college professor. I research ethics and human resource development in the business industry. Go ahead, say it: business ethics? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Like, military intelligence or jumbo shrimp. Yes, yes… but anyway, I’m intensely curious about stuff I can’t figure out. In the academic realm, I research it. In the personal realm it’s not so easy.
Lately I’ve been struggling with how to balance my past with my present while looking toward my future. Hence the bold words in the verse above: press on, forget what lies behind, and strain ahead towards the upward call of God. Hold true to this, what you have learned.
Hold true to Me, He says.
I don’t mind telling you that I’m 38. I have a shiny new Ph. D. from a fancy schmancy University. I’m married to my first love from high school. We’ve been married nearly 4 years.
(Blog reader doing math. Concluding, yes, there’s a story there.)
We have four kids, one of whom you met earlier. We are a blended family with naturally occurring issues. We’re pretty happy. Like, truly happy.
Why do I constantly live in fear of the bottom falling out? It can’t be this good and this real. Can it?
That intensity thing I mentioned earlier? It’s gotten the best of me before. For example, I planned my 10-year high school reunion, a class of 754 people, long-distance. I wasn’t even popular; I just wanted to go. I dove into my own business one summer then started graduate school, basically exchanging one obsession for another. I wrote my doctoral dissertation in five weeks flat. I’m determined to become a good-ish cook in the next year. When I read Hemmingway’s A Farewell to Arms I had to read ALL of his books. Ditto Diana Gabaldon, Bill Bryson and every single podcast of This American Life.
With all this happiness floating around and intensity stirring the curiosity pot, it’s difficult not to wonder if it won’t all go away tomorrow. If what my father said over Thanksgiving was true, that I am a disrespectful, angry, grudge-holding daughter with an attitude.
Hold true to Me, He said.
I’ve learned to trust that inner voice that I know now is not intuition or gut or instinct. It’s the Holy Spirit. It’s not me. I’m neurotic and obsessive and cynical and sarcastic and skeptical about new people or organizations.
I’m my husband’s best friend, my daughters’ hero, my sons’ advocate and cheerleader. I’m that college adviser who says, “Don’t stop now. We’ve got this. Together.” I’m that friend who always does what she says she will do, maybe just not in a timely fashion. I’m that professor who tries to be fair above all else. I love my job.
Hold true to Me, He said.
Gentle reader, hold true to what is good in your life. Do not let things impact your life that are negatively superfluous. If you have grounded yourself in the Lord, I say, bring it on world! My soul is not permeable. Let’s see how many people we can shore up with this phrase.
Hold true to Me, He said.