Where have you been in your life? All 50 states or well on the way to that goal? Put your feet on most of the earth’s continents or maybe never been and don’t want to? Visited all the counties in Kansas? Climbed a “14-er” or multiple 14-ers in the Rockies? Never have, never will? Been snorkeling, scuba-diving, swimming with the dolphins, seen a whale breach high out of the water and heard the splash as it comes back down? Been lowered in a shark cage and come eye to eye with a great white as the theme from “Jaws” played over and over in the back of your mind? Yes, I’m old enough to have seen it in an actual movie theater. *snort* Jumped out of a perfectly good airplane? Made your bed on a morning when you didn’t have time because if you didn’t your day would simply not be the same?
Where have you been in your life? Your dream job? Your hoped-for degree? Hanging with an amazing set of friends and a cohesive clan of colleagues who just simply “get you?” Raised the perfect children? (you’re welcome, Mom and Dad *snort*). Grounded those children enough that they had plenty of time to think about how to become perfect later in life? Played bass in a band? Gone to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Times Square on New Year’s Eve? Pasadena for the Rose Bowl Parade with your Domino-playing group of friends who are family?
Where have you been in your life? To church? Sunday School? Confirmation? Youth Group? On a mission trip inside borders? Outside borders? Where borders went unnoticed when you met the people and worked together for the common good? To the polls? Pre-polls to help register potential voters? To fundraising events for politicians, for charities, for an Alma Mater? To Arrowhead? To Kaufman, either the Stadium or Center for the Fine Arts? To the Nelson? The Louvre? The Eiffel Tower? The Leaning Tower of Pizza? The Trevi Fountain? Sophia Loren? I have always thought that if I went to the Trevi Fountain I would automatically see Sophia Loren – maybe best that I haven’t been since I’m guessing she doesn’t hang out there 24-7. The White House? The Washington Monument? Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial? I sorta wanted to sit on his lap – I think that’s probably frowned upon by security. Watched a rendition of MLK “I Have a Dream” speech done from the Lincoln Memorial?
Where have you been in your life? Bullied? A bully? The favorite? The outcast? The funny one? The serious one? The introvert? The extrovert? The combo-vert of both at different times in different places with different people? ENFP? ISTJ? A Thinker in an Imaginer phase? A Persistor in a Harmonizer phase? See Myers-Briggs and/or Process Communication Model – each a way of reflecting on personality and increasing self-awareness and sensitivity to self and others.
Where have you been in your life? A seeker of wisdom? A purveyor of philosophy? A common sense worker for solutions, resolutions, and motivator of people working together? A survivor? An observer? A commenter and op-ed writer? A life-long lover of music? A dancer like nobody’s watching? A tattoo-getter? A gun-packer? A fisher of fish and/or of humans for Jesus? Bible-toter? A scripture-studier? A daily devotioner? A daily runner or bicycler or walker or Harley-rider? A knitter or quilter or crocheter or cross-stitcher? A stitcher of time who saves nine? A mender of hearts or a darner of socks? Who does that anymore? A regular coffee drinker? A latte lover? A barista’s nightmare of a particular coffee concoction not listed on the menu but explained by you in clear but concise terms with expectations that the shot of expresso and the steamed milk and the one pump of peppermint and the 3/8ths scoop of cocoa will be done in the correct order at the correct temperature with the right attitude in a timely fashion when you’re at the drive-thru and cutting it close to being late for work? A drive-thru fast-fooder? An understander that dining is NOT the same as eating? A home-cooked mealer? An instant-pot aficionado and newly-minted fan thereof? A griller and tailgater? A deep-fried turkey risk-taker? A blue ribbon barbecue brisket and/or ribs competitor?
Where have you been in your life? The journey is endless, isn’t it? When someone asks who you are or what you do, how do you explain? Do you explain it to them the way you think about it yourself? When was the last time you asked someone who they are and then invited them to move beyond their title, the position they hold, the education they have, their role in a family, the tasks they’ve accomplished? Do we want to hear where people have been in their lives? Do we want to know what they’re like, what they’ve survived, what brings them joy, how they struggle with issues of faith and meaning and purpose? Do we want to know that the most faithful people sometimes doubt, and the most doubtful people also have faith? Do we want to see pictures of grandchildren, or dogs, or cats or snakes or the latest trip to the mountains or the ocean or the dessert? Is there time to listen to a story about love? A story about loss? A story about extraordinary moments in the midst of the most ordinary days? I wonder if one of the answers of where we’ve been in life is with other people… that we’ve been with other people with whom we’ve laughed and cried and bickered and fought and succeeded and failed and forgave and started over and over and over – maybe even 70 times 7. Maybe that’s where we’ve been in every chapter and every description and every season – we’ve been willing to risk being with other people in the good and the bad and the ugly and the beautiful and somehow that’s what’s made wherever we’ve been in life worth it.
Congratulations for every place you’ve ever been in life! I believe where we’ve been makes us who we are and somehow who we are in God’s vision, is truly a minute or maybe even two, of grace.