Day 802

Last night I went to a beautiful Good Friday service. I’m currently visiting my friend Cheyenne in New York and honest to goodness we found this church by googling “Astoria Good Friday Service.” Our criteria was to find a church we could walk to who also had their schedule clearly stated on their website. This proves the importance of a good website for a church. Note: Churches, if you are trying to reach visitors or new members; your service schedule should be the EASIEST thing to find. How do you think you’re going to get people in the door if they don’t know when to show up? So it was just dumb luck (or the Holy Spirit) that we ended up participating in an incredible, spirit filled, reflective time of worship.

We heard an amazing string quartet play Joseph Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour On the Cross.” It was first performed in 1783 in Spain. The worship leader would read a passage pertaining to one of the last utterances of Jesus and then we would listen to a sonata as we meditated on the reality of the actions that took place oh so many years ago. The music was indescribable. Art is meant to illicit emotion. So, for me, when you put art and Jesus together…I am a complete mess. I mean, we’re already dealing with the day that Jesus Christ was crucified for all mankind. Letting that fact alone sink in causes me to shudder with shame and humility.

I could go on and on with my thoughts on each of the seven words, but I want to focus on the first. The one that still haunts me this morning. The one I thought I had a better handle on. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Forgiveness. Forgiveness is tricky. There is a constant push and pull between forgiving and being smart enough to not forget. There is the focusing on those you must forgive and being honest about what you must confess and ask for forgiveness for. There is the never ending searching of your heart to make sure your forgiveness was pure. And there is the relief of being able to truly let go.

Since my divorce I think I’ve gotten better at letting things roll off my back. There’s a moment when you take a good hard look at a situation and think “That’s not a real problem” and go on with your day. It’s freeing. It’s growth. It’s grace. The flip side of that is when I deem a situation an “actual problem,” then I suddenly start a crusade to right a disastrous wrong. And who would know better about wrong-doing than me? I mean, I’ve dealt with DIVORCE…I clearly know a thing or two about sin. So you better step up to my personal moral code, please and thank you. Good grief. Who do I think I am? I’ll tell you what I am. A sinner saved by God’s love. Saved by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Saved by the nails.

Yes, I am killing it at the forgiveness of the “big things.” I have forgiven my ex-husband. And when I say “I forgave him” what I mean is that through the help of Jesus I was able to get to a place where I knew in my heart that I couldn’t heal until I could forgive. But who am I to decide what constitutes a big thing to forgive and a small thing to forgive? I fall short of the glory of God constantly. Every day. And you know what? Jesus died for all of that. The big things, the small things, the scary things, the hard things, the annoying things. My brain has problems even fully understanding everything he took on that day on the cross. But, being a child of faith, even when my brain fails me…the Holy Spirit fills me. And that is when I can feel his love and his understanding and his grace. That is when I grasp my purpose and his presence. That is when forgiveness doesn’t feel like a chore, but a gift.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The “them” in this exclamation is me. The “they” in this cry to the heavens is me. My sin. All my sins.

Father, forgive me. Father, lead me. Father, purify me. Father, teach me. Father, humble me.

Romans 4:25 “He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

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Day 790

In exactly four weeks my little sister is having a baby. Her second. A little girl…to add to the two year old boy (who is absolutely perfect and I shall tell him so every day until I am too old and senile to form a complete sentence). In six months my baby sister is getting married. In a family of three girls, this means that I am finally the daughter that is flying under the radar. We have bigger fish to fry in the Hill House! Important things are happening! We are welcoming a freakin life into the world and we have found a young, brave man willing to join in on our craziness. Let the heavens rejoice!! I am thrilled that my amazing parents, at long last, have more important events to worry about than the downward or upward spiral of my life. My mother would tell you that she never worries about me. She knows I’m going to be just fine…she is lying.

My mother does her best to stay involved in our lives without overstepping. We’re all big on trying to respect each other’s boundaries. We fail often. At times my mother will text one of us, “I need your schedule.” Today I was the daughter who got that text. Before this weekend we hadn’t had a good long talk in weeks, because as I said earlier, it’s my turn to fly under the radar. And to be fair, it’s hard to keep up with where I am. I drove to New Jersey last week and forgot to tell her. Right now I’m in North Carolina. In two weeks I will go from Tennessee to New York to New Jersey to Washington D.C. To Pennsylvania to Tennessee to Florida. You can see where she’d get confused. I enjoy the fact that when we catch up, we don’t have to talk about me. It’s freeing. It’s a nice reprieve from dealing with the unpleasant realities that come with being a gypsy actress.  

I’m also sick to death of myself. Sick of analyzing each decision I make. Sick of worrying about every aspect of my life. Sick of the pitiful glances thrown my way when folks hear that my childless self is welcoming a niece or that my divorced self will be sharing a hotel room with her parents for her baby sister’s wedding. Assumptions are funny that way. Little do they know the pride I take in being a kick ass Aunt or the sympathy I feel as I watch my baby sister plan a wedding. It’s hard. I know. I’ve been there. You can’t make everyone happy. When people ask me about my wedding I always say, “Everything was perfect…except the groom.” I avoid confrontation by using humor. I think I’m hilarious. 

The thing about flying under the radar in my family is that once my parents realize not everyone is on equal footing, they immediately spring into action to even us all out. Which might be why my father asked to take me out to dinner next week before I fly to New York. Or maybe he just misses our witty rapport. He thinks he’s hilarious too. It’s something we have in common. I adore my father. I truly do. He was meant to be a father. He killed it at raising us, if I do say so myself. If I ever have a child, I pray to God my kid’s dad is on the same “father scale” as mine. My father is a great adventurer. He taught us to never wait for life to happen to you. Go out there and make it happen for yourself. He is a prime example of a man who finds joy in the journey. I should have been more aware of that when picking a life mate. I won’t make that mistake again. 

The weekend after I got engaged, my ex-husband and I were walking to brunch on the Upper West Side (like the yuppies we were), and he turned to me and said “I’m so glad that our lives can finally begin.” And I remember thinking “I’m 27 years old…I’ve been living…where were you?” And that’s kinda the beautiful thing that we all forget to remember. There isn’t really a “Starting Line” for your life. There aren’t boxes you have to check. You aren’t racing anyone to the finish. In fact, no one’s keeping score. And if you find someone that is keeping score, defriend them or unfollow them or block them. They are gross and sad and you don’t need that negativity in your life. You get to write your own story. Life is just one big “choose your own adventure” book. And sometimes it sucks and you scrutinize all your terrible life choices and you sit in your Honda, yet again, praying it will eventually drive you to your home; where you have nice bedding and a food processor and you are suddenly a domestic goddess adored by all. But then you realize you have a seriously amazing bow collection and you make art for a living and you’re actually dating (gasp)…and it’s going well (bigger gasp) and you’re completely hilarious. And that’s good enough for now. Cause if nothing else, you totally showed up for your life…and in our family that means no flying under the radar allowed. 

2 Peter 3:8-9 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”