“Please give three references.” I was helping someone I’d recently met to fill out a job application. She’d already listed her contact information, work experiences, and skills. Now she just had to list three people who knew her well, and she could turn in the form.
I figured that she didn’t need my assistance with this part, so I moved on to helping another person. But later, when I reviewed the woman’s application, I realized that, for her, this had been the most challenging question of all. Yes, she had listed three people, but they were people I knew well—and I knew they didn’t know her at all.
May is one of our busiest months. Everything seems to happen at once. I love to go birding, and here in Colorado, May is the peak of spring migration. It’s also the month when my garden wakes up. I can’t wait to get my fingers back into the soil, sowing seeds outdoors, setting out started seedlings, and pulling the weeds that have been sleeping all winter. At the same time, work continues, bills must be paid, clothes still get dirty, and we still get hungry.
With our schedules full, Pete and I had been communicating in sound bites. “Heading to the store, need anything?” “Can you stop at the bank for me?” “Don’t forget, tonight is our small group meeting.” We hadn’t had a real conversation in weeks. We really needed some quality time. Happily, we’d scheduled just that—back in January.
Pots of blooming bulbs greet me as I walk into Walmart. Last month’s heart-shaped boxes of chocolate have been replaced with jelly beans, pastel peeps, and chocolate rabbits. Displays at the end of the aisles feature stuffed bunnies and lambs. And at church, there’s the annual push to invite guests to the Easter service.
This year, Easter (aka “Resurrection Sunday”) falls on March 27. That’s only a couple of weeks away. If we are going to invite anyone to church, we’d better hop to it.
It all came to a head when Pete went to a men’s retreat. In the secure environment of that gathering, he ended up telling the entire crowd something personal about me. It seemed an appropriate issue to share—everyone was sharing at a deep level, praying for one another, and being encouraged.
But when he came home and told me what he’d made public, I was totally mortified: “You told them WHAT?!” How could I ever again face anyone who had been on that retreat? It was humiliating. Who else would they tell? How many of our friends would find out? I hadn’t done anything sinful—it was just an intensely private issue.
Pete was totally apologetic, and I forgave his innocent mistake. As a couple, we had never before considered what was appropriate to share with others, and what was just between the two of us—or at most a trusted friend or counselor. Until that point, we just sort of assumed the other person would somehow intuitively know what could be said in public.
I spent yesterday working through my to-do list, trying to check off what I really need to accomplish before everyone arrives next week for Thanksgiving. One of the items at the top of the list was “write Friday’s blog post.”
I didn’t get it done.
Then my good friend Cynthia posted two back-to-back blogs that are much better than anything I would have come up with. So I’m sending you to her blog, while I take a much-needed break (and clean the house, buy a turkey, catch up on the laundry, edit a book, post-process about 200 photos, water the houseplants, pay the bills…).
First read this.
And then read this.
See you Tuesday.
So, have you sent your Christmas cards yet?
Did you feel a little pang of guilt there? Did your holiday stress just go up a level? Yeah, mine too. The whole Christmas card production can take several entire days at our house… and it comes right at the busiest time of the year.
Sometimes I think the folks who mail their cards in January (or swap them for Valentines in February) have the right idea. Why do we do this to ourselves?
On the other hand, what says “Christmas” more than connecting with one another? If there’s any time of the year that relationships should trump our to-do lists, shouldn’t it be the season in which we celebrate Jesus coming to have a relationship with us?