I was watching a movie this past week. It was a love story but somehow an underlying theme in it caught my attention. This theme spoke to the idea of how people come in and out of our lives for a purpose.
As I look at 2016 in the rear view mirror, the underlying theme from this movie seems to be the same defining theme of my year. I met so many truly amazing people in 2016 that taught me the exact lesson I needed to learn.. exactly when I needed to learn it.
I am convinced this is how God works. I believe He allows people to walk into our lives (sometimes he even intentionally places them there) to tell us the story we need to hear. Sometimes the person may leave once we’ve heard it, and other times they stay a while. But either way, when a person like this walks into your life you are never the same [and that person will always hold a special place in your heart].
I could talk about so many captivating people who came my way in 2016. Whether they were 2 years old or 80 years old, each one of them held something inside of them that was worth hearing.. a treasure inside of them worth finding. In fact, I believe that everyone does.. it’s a shame how we get in a hurry sometimes and forget to listen. When we do tune our ears to hear, however, the lesson we learn is gold.
I could talk about my sweet friend Keira who (at the age of three) was afraid of the dark. She believed God made her to be brave, however. So she went through a phase where she intentionally (& repeatedly) shut herself in a dark room all alone in order to prove how brave God made her. This little 3 year old girl [inadvertently] taught me, not only how to trust Jesus with all of my fears, but also how to face them with Him.
Then there is my sister (yes, 2016 brought me a sister).. this year she taught me to always turn to God first, and then get advice from those around me. Because no matter how big or small a situation in my life is, God has an opinion, and what He speaks to my heart is more real than anything else.
I could talk about one of my residents at work. Although 90 years old and diagnosed with dementia, he impacted my life possibly more than anyone. He helped me make one of the biggest decisions of my life. Through this he inadvertently taught me to never give advice. Advice is dangerous to give a person, because I’m not the one who has to live everyday with the consequences of the decision made. Instead, when someone I love has to make a tough choice, the best thing I can do for them is ask good questions. The right choice already lies within them.. all I need to do is help them find it.
I of course have to talk about my friend Blake who taught me how to always “lean in”. He cares about everyone in his life with his entire heart and never lets anything come in the way of that. Most people “lean out” at some point in relationships – usually it is because they were hurt or have a fear of getting hurt. Not blake. He leans in no matter what. I want to be like that.
I met a woman in 2016 who poured into me like no one I’ve ever met. Through our relationship she [inadvertently] taught me of my own value, which somehow along the way I had allowed to be forgotten about. Her friendship taught me that even in my deepest weakness, the Lord perceives in me more beauty than I can imagine. God even gave her a vision to speak to this area of my life (meanwhile she still had no clue what He was up to), how cool is that? And through this I have begun to learn how to look for the beauty hidden within the weaknesses and brokenness of everything and everyone around me.
Then, there is one of my newest friends. We were walking downtown Indianapolis when a homeless guy came up to us and asked for money. My friend didn’t have any cash on him but he slowed down and took time to talk with this guy anyway. Basically all Drew did was treat this guy like a human being (which, it’s sad that this was so refreshing). But something about this interaction stuck with me. Because as I watched these two talk, I realized that Drew actually enjoyed this guy. He was in no hurry to get the guy to go away. And the most memorable thing about this to me is how genuine it was. It wasn’t an ego thing, nor was it a facade. And Drew didn’t offer his time to just the homeless guy, but he also took time to enjoy the Starbucks barista, the guys playing pokemon go on the canal, and really everyone who crossed our paths. Even today when I am talking to him on the phone he will put me on hold in order to have a conversation with whoever is around him. Drew loves life more than almost anyone I know. And I can’t help but think I know what his secret is. Drew offers a gift many of us have forgotten about completely. He knows how to be fully present in the moment.. and in doing so he has figured out how to enjoy the people that are around him to the fullest. It’s as simple as that. Though I only met him once for a few hours, this concept truly changed my life. What a gift to give to those around you.. to be fully present & simply enjoy them.
I’m sitting in my living room right now, wrapped up in a warm blanket as I write this and I am realizing that I could continue writing until morning about all of the amazing people this year brought me.
As I sit here while the snow falls outside my window, I am paying attention to each individual car that drives down our adorable one way street. So many people pass by. They are all headed the same direction even though they have different destinations. But each one has an agenda – each individual is in their own hurry. I wonder where they are headed and I even wonder what the rear-view mirror of 2016 looks like for them (and all of the lessons it brought them).
When I was a kid time seemed to drag by, but 2016 was different.. it looked a lot like this little one way street. (Although not a bad thing necessarily), this past year included a lot of moving ahead full speed with no turning back. But as I sit and look at 2016’s rear-view mirror, I am thankful for each day of this past chapter in my life, every specific lesson each one taught me, and all of the captivating people I met along the way.
I had a homeless lady come up to me earlier today asking for money. I didn’t have any, but took the time to talk to her anyway. Guess what? She was a really enjoyable person.
I got to help her with a decision she was making by asking her the right questions and telling her that God had an opinion. I was able speak to her a little bit about facing her fears at the same time that I reminded her of her value.
oh yeah, and she taught me something new too.. ♥
Kind of crazy to think that a year ago that conversation wouldn’t have (& couldn’t have) happened.
Here’s to 2017.. to all of the beautiful lessons it has to bring me & all of the captivating people I have yet to meet.