Today I found a note I wrote myself last year while I was making a decision that I would have to explain a lot of times to a lot of people. It was one of those choices you know will choke off old choices while dropping an oxygen mask over new ones. The note begins, Dear Future Me.
In this note I ask myself some questions. The pleading kind. I was desperate enough to leave something for Future Me to find, wanting my questions to have answers. Those were dizzying days, I was profoundly stressed-out for a lot of 2015, and the perfect storm of Ways to Drive Lynne Crazy had boiled down to a thick syrup of panic.
After 3+ years, 4 job descriptions, 6 desk swaps (and a partridge in a pear tree), last summer I was placed in a no-win situation which would call into question my vocational ministry. God was showing me how to not be defined by Work Worth. It was excruciating.
Have you ever sat in the center of a mind-numbing problem and then comforted yourself by thinking of Christmas? Because this is pretty much always a true statement: Christmas is coming. By Christmas, I will know how this worked out. Let’s take a 20 second vacation to Christmas. Christmas is at the end of the year, it’s all gingerbread-y, twinkling at you, all magic and frosted. No matter when you read this, there’s a Christmas out in front of you, and by then, things will be different. Guaranteed.
Doesn’t that help? Now can you breathe?
Perhaps you’re in the middle of some hard decisions yourself. Do you have questions to send to your future self? Well, unless you’re trapped in the movie The Lake House, I hope you won’t wait by the mailbox. What I’ve learned is that I can’t teleport my questions into the unknown, but I can cling in the present to the One whose seen it already.
Dear Future Me,
This is all I had to go on to make the call. Was it enough? Were there blind spots and planks in my eyes I could not see past? Please send your love to 8-12-15 Me. She did the best she could.
There are times when making a costly decision comes with a sense of moral high ground, consensus, or even honor. Other times, the only prize is the pristine peace that it’s over. And that is the gain, until other gains can be gathered.
Sometimes we hold our own hands and squeeze.
We think we know our gains from our losses. Paul talks about gains and losses in Philippians chapter 3 where he explains his theory of how to hold loosely to both, and why.
4…though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. Philippians 3:4-6
No false modesty, here, and with good reason. Paul does not shrug it off as he addresses the church in Philippi with an Aw-shucks grin. Not Paul. He says his Gain Game was strong. Which is why surrendering it’s merit for the merit of building Another’s Kingdom is so much more poignant in power. This Lord is worthy.
8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ. Philippians 3:8
Is there another way to gain? Without an exchange? If there had been, Jesus would not have toiled over that issue with God the night before his torment (Matthew 26:39). We are in very good company in the struggle for gain.
A year has gifted me with the competence to stand in shifting sand with my gains in one hand and my losses in the other, knowing I’m sinking and I look like a fool. It’s ok, I’m not the only one. I can be in this space, like a girl on the beach, wet up to her thighs and fully dressed, and offer the contents of both hands indiscriminately up. Come and get your glory, Lord.
Dear Past Me,
Yes, it was enough. No, there were no unforeseen planks. You were stronger than you thought. What and who you needed showed up right on time. Regret is a liar that has no skin in the game. Thank you for being badass when you had to be. Sending love.