To the many friends whom birthdays I've missed over the past five years or to the handful of people who I owe a "thank you" card for a gift or celebration, my sincerest apologies. The truth is, I feel like I'm finally coming up for air after five long years.
This past month is the first time in I don't know how long, I actually remembered extended family and friends' birthdays. And although gifts and cards may still be delivered late, it is the first time since I started graduate school back in 2011, I even remembered them. (#winning #finally) These past 5 years of my life have been a whirlwind. Between advancing my career, finishing my doctoral degree, moving several times and working through a few personal struggles in my life, life has been overwhelming, to say the least. And I wonder how many people have looked at me and thought, "Geez she's not very thoughtful or thankful. What an ungrateful (insert foul language)." And to the folks who may have felt this way, I'm so sorry. I wasn't ungrateful, I was overwhelmed. And sure, I wrote all the birthdays in my beautiful, over-priced Erin Condren life planner but sometimes your day-to-day life is too busy to even look at your planner.
Life is tough sometimes. And we each carry a different burden and deal with our burdens differently. It is easy to judge or think ill of someone for not living up to a societal or personal standard when you are looking in from the outside. However, when you are forced to walk a similar path, all of a sudden you understand. And if you are like me, you seek forgiveness for all the times you didn't understand. Or the times you judged someone for not living up to your standards. And you realize, standards don't actually matter in life. People matter.
It's a silly example compared to what I've dealt with the last five years and an even sillier example compared to the burden some carry right now. But when I went away to college and came home for weekend visits, I remember some of my friends being upset because I didn't spend enough time with them. I struggled to balance time with my family, my boyfriend's family and friends in the short 48 hours I was actually in town. Some of my best friends really struggled with it until they were in the same situation and realized "the struggle IS real." It's hard to balance the demands of friends and family - and maybe a few of us still feel this way. Family and friends put demands on you and you just feel like you can't keep up sometimes. These struggles seem so incredibly small to the load I've carried in recent years but it's a simple example of how looking in from another place, positions you perfectly to judge without empathy. Each person copes with life's load differently and you know what? I'm incredibly grateful we all cope differently because we learn to manage our life from one another. If we all dealt with situations or stress or struggles the exact same way, we would likely not cope well at all. So although the differences between us give room for judgement and hurt feelings, if we embrace a spirit of understanding we might find ourselves stronger in the end.
A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.
I'm so thankful the Lord weighs our heart and intentions and not always our actions. I would be in BIG trouble if God judged me on etiquette and/or follow through. How great would it be if we let go of all these standards and went about our lives believing others have the best intentions, even if they miss the mark occasionally (or for 5 years in a row). What if we lived being understanding of others and allowed the Lord to judge their heart and intention.
Happy Belated Birthday, a long Overdue thank you and a forgotten congrats,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.