Ask Yourself

The end of 2013 is just around the corner! Which means it is a great time to think back and ask yourself some questions about twenty-thirteen. I adored Emily’s New Year post . I may have to make my own. But I would encourage everyone to ask themselves the following 10 questions. It’ll do your soul some good.


1. When did I feel most alive this year?

During my selfish little escape to Los Angeles this summer. I’ve never traveled by myself for no good reason other than “because I want to”. And it ended up being exactly what I needed. I had QT time with friends, spent time alone, geeked out at art museums, soaked up the sun, explored, went to an epic concert, and then the second I landed back in Iowa I joined my family for a 4th of July week at the lake house. So. Good.

2. What am I most proud of accomplishing this year?

Graduating from college and getting accepted to graduate schools. Clayton and I are planning on going to Edinburgh in the fall of 2014! It’s been a dream just out of reach for so long. I hope it finally happens.

3. How can I improve my relationships?

It is hard to generalize this. I think of relationships on an individual basis. The ways I can improve my relationship with my sister are different than the ways I can improve my relationship with my neighbor. But I have always believed keys to happy, healthy relationships are presence, communication and thoughtfulness. As someone who has the tendency to be a bit too dependent on my relationships to feed me emotionally/mentally/spiritually, I think one way I can improve my relationships with others is by being more loving of and confident in myself…I realize that sounds backwards. Just trust me. It’s harder for me to be and easier for me to do.

4. What new habits do I want to cultivate?

Well, I start Farrell’s kickboxing in January. Emily and I are kicking sugar and I’m afraid to realize what affect hat will have on me haha. Clayton and I want to become super savers (in an effort to make the whole Scotland thing happen, but also because it’s a great idea in general. We’re definitely culprits of eating out too much (I always say this will change when I have a kitchen that isn’t the size of a peanut but that’s probably a lie).

5. What do I need to let go of?

Nagging doubts. Impulsive Target purchases. My art-making hiatus. Trying to do everything on my own.

6. What lessons did I learn?

Plenty of them, I’m sure. I had a lot of lessons in faith this year. I realized how at my core I really perceived God’s love as conditional. I think this comes with growing up in a rule/dogma/systematic-driven religion. I don’t say that with disdain. It just is what it is. I don’t believe anyone is trying to screw things up for other people. But I feel like a lot of church is people telling you what to know and not how to know. It was shocking to see how disconnected my head and heart could be. I knew that the world is very gray, but felt like there had to be a black and white answer. I knew that God loved me no matter what decisions I made in my life, but I felt like if I gave up on my broken relationship that He would love me a little less. I knew that I’m not big enough to ruin any plan of God’s, but I felt like I was messing with some sort of divine course. I was terrified of missing out on the healing and restoration that He promises, as if there is only one way that can or will happen. I felt intense guilt for something I hadn’t even done yet. I felt guilty for just entertaining the idea.  I had a friend tell me that I needed to stop seeing God as “either/or” and instead as “both/and”. Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. He never answered a question with “yes” or “no” and he never asked close-ended questions. The way he healed one person was completely different from another. This was really transformative for me. Someone can tell me I was wrong about this or that (sometimes that person is me), but at the end of the day God only knows. And I have to be ok with the mystery of Him, knowing that God and silence will be experienced simultaneously and even as the same thing.

“All saying must be balanced by unsaying, and knowing must be humbled by unknowing. Without this balance, religion invariably becomes arrogant, exclusionary, and even violent.”

“Praying takes away your anxiety about figuring it all out for yourself, or needing to be right about your formulations. At this point, God becomes more a verb than a noun, more a process than a conclusion, more an experience than a dogma, more a personal relationship than an idea. There is someone dancing with you and you aren’t afraid of making mistakes.”

“It is an amazing arrogance that allows Christians to so readily believe that their mental understanding of things is anywhere close to that of Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life.” I think the intended effect of that often misused line is this: If Jesus is the truth, then you probably aren’t.”

“God is everywhere and always. And He is scandalously found even in the failure of sin.”

“Honoring and allowing of mystery was consistently practiced by Jesus. So many of his sayings are so enigmatic and confusing…if he had been primarily concerned about perfect clarity from his side, and obvious understanding from our side, he surely didn’t do very well as a communicator, even in his lifetime. Protestants insisted on reading and studying scriptures, thank God, but then they were certain they had the one and only interpretation and ignored many of the others. This, even after Jesus so often (7 times in Matthew 13 alone) taught hat the ultimate reality (the Kingdom) is always like something- clearly a simile or a metaphor inviting further experience and journey, not an idea with definitions that could be checked true or false on an exam.”

Quotes from Richard Rohr’s book (mentioned below).

7. Am I passionate about my career or what I’m doing with my life?

I don’t necessarily have a “career” per se. I’m working towards one. But after the New Year I’ll be nanny once again for Miss Vivian and Miss Lola, who is pretty new to the world. I’m looking forward to spending my days with them. I love being around kids. They give me the chance to be creative. They invite me into their little worlds. They teach me. It’s really great.

8. How well did I take care of myself?

Pretty well, I think. It’s been a very self-reflective year.

9. What inspired me?

At the ChildVoice benefit auction I was inspired by how the organization is growing and the values they uphold. Their goodness and perseverance astound me. I am so lucky to have served them and I hope to do it again in the future.

The documentary Miss Representation inspired me to be cautious of the messages I am buying into as a woman.

These books really influenced my faith and inspired me to expand my mental horizons: The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See by Richard Rohr, The Benefit of Doubt by Gregory Boyd, and A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans.

The Enneagram! It’s a personality test, but more in depth. Is that really nerdy of me? I don’t care. It’s about self-development. It shows you your tendencies at every level from extremely unhealthy to healthy. It’s helped me to understand the lens through which I see things and to better understand the lens through which other types see things. You can take the classic test for free here and read an in depth description of your type(s) here.

And every year I am inspired by the people involved in the details of my every day life. They inspire me to reach my full potential and love me when I’m not there.

10. If I could sum up this year, what word would fit?