I’ve been thinking a lot about numbers lately, and no, I’m not the one who prepares our taxes. I’ve been thinking about the numbers that mark our days, signify big events, mark periods of our lives, and help us keep track of life. We are the type of family that marks special occasions no matter the size. Besides the usual birthdays and wedding anniversaries we like to remember the little dates that matter too. For instance, our dog Ally just turned 13 and we had cupcakes. Happy Birthday, Al!
She doesn’t know she got a bite of cupcake because she turned 13, but we know that having her in our lives and helping her age has been a gift. We celebrate the anniversary dates of getting each cat (because seriously, who knows their cat’s birth date?), first days of school, baptismal birthdays, the anniversary of our first date, and whatever other happy occasions comes to mind. Why? Because we like to make a big deal of our days. We like to take time and acknowledge the good, the hard, and the momentous.We like to look back and forward not just letting everything pass us by.
Driving to camp with kids for a retreat this weekend one girl and I talked about what shows we like to watch. We both find “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” super funny. She talked about the scene where Kimmy is consoling her overwrought boss by telling her the strategy of taking life 10 seconds at a time. “You can stand anything for 10 seconds,” says Kimmy Schmidt. “Then you just start on a new 10 seconds.” “And it’s true!” said this student. “It’s true! And you just keep going and going and going….”
At the end of the group workouts I do our instructors often include a “capstone” which is a
torturous and horrible great way to end a hard workout. Often I hear them say, “don’t stop now. You can do this — it’s just 3 minutes. Don’t cheat yourself after all that hard work. Whether its 10 seconds or 3 minutes or a decade time can feel like an eternity or like it flew by at lightening speed. Time matters, paying attention matters. We can see time as a distraction or as a gift.
In March I celebrated the 10 year anniversary of my ordination and turning 40, both felt momentous to me. For someone who was never completely convinced I was going to be a pastor having spent ten years serving one congregation is not anything I would have predicted for myself. If you would have told my newly turned 30 and newly ordained self that at 40 I would find myself still happily serving in my first call I would have laughed at you. Hard. But as I reflect on this I know that I am a person who believes in the power of staying put, putting down roots, and values longevity. It’s not really that surprising that I’ve spent ten years in one place because that is who I am. I will send down deep tap roots, build and keep relationships, keep learning and growing and be in it for the long haul or until I know it is time to do something different to keep growing. I don’t run when the going gets tough — I never have and I hope I never will. I will live the words of my instructors and not cheat myself (or others) by quitting early. I’ll leave when the workout is done and not before.
40 feels like I finally made it. Made it to what, I don’t know yet. My 20’s were the years of going through college and graduate school, getting married, setting up a household, having a baby and remodeling our house. It was a whirlwind of life changes that kept coming at me fast and furious. All good things but I couldn’t have fit in many more life events if I tried! My 30’s were a time of figuring out what to do with all those life changes that happened in my 20’s. Suddenly I found myself living into being a wife, mother, pastor, a home owning adult and all that goes along with those responsibilities. I’ve kept and grown friendships that have stood the tests of time and change. I navigated new worlds on my own and with those I love. My 40’s feel like a new era. I feel so much more confident, non-anxious, and patient than I ever have before, probably because I could only gain these things from time. I’m looking forward to seeing what choices I make with whatever life presents. Part of my reflecting on this is because my dad died when he was 46. 46 is young. It’s not that much older than I am right now. I think about him and all that he had done in his life, but also how much he didn’t get to do and I’m aware of the precious gift time is. Don’t cheat it. Don’t waste it. The numbers matter whether they represent seconds, minutes, days, years or decades. As I enter into this new decade I find myself so much more aware of my time in the broad sense and it is both exciting and filled with a longing to make it count. E.B. White says, “I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.” I would change it a bit though to say, “Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult, but more often than not they are one in the same.” Enjoy your time.
Ellie Kemper Image is from: http://media.vanityfair.com/photos/5485bcfa98f2d00004ac8f79/master/h_590,c_limit/ellie-kemper-unbreakable-kimmy-schmidt-vf-ss02.jpg