My summer break from What I Learned turned into a fall break and well, here we are. A bit of what I learned during the months of September and October:
• Daniel was around 80 years old when he was thrown into the lions’ den. What?! He’s typically portrayed as youthful in all the children’s Bible illustrations I’ve seen, and I never stopped to look at the actual timeline and where this event falls in Daniel’s life. It changes the story a bit, doesn’t it? Can you imagine the scene?
• There are always opportunities, even during the most mundane days, to be a light—including while grocery shopping.
• I did not succeed in writing every day for 31 days for the Write 31 Days challenge. But I did write 16 essays on grace, freedom, and the rules, and I learned something new about myself and about God’s love for us as I worked through each post. I also learned that I had more words in me than I thought I did. One of my biggest fears about participating and committing to a central theme was that I would run out of things to write. But as it happens, I barely made a dent in my list of writing prompts. I wrote a little more than 10,000 words during the challenge. And there are more tumbling around in my head—so I’ll be returning to this topic down the road.
• Stranger Things is so good. My husband originally watched the Netflix series on his own and determined I wouldn’t like it. (I’m prone to nightmares and waking up in the middle of the night convinced there’s a dinosaur in my bathroom, so I didn’t blame him.) But I decided to be brave (or maybe just succumb to peer pressure) and watched it over a series of Monday nights with him, my sister, and her boyfriend—and surprise! I loved it. I didn’t want it to end! And bonus—no nightmares.
• I can get carsick from the front seat. Yes I can, and yes I did. Constant turning around in my seat to assist kids in their snack and entertainment needs + stop-and-go traffic through Atlanta + that Chick-fil-a chocolate chunk cookie I just had to have = throwing up in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel.
My family was so gracious to me in that messy, gross moment. We were trying to get to our weekend destination in the Georgia mountains, and the drive had already felt so long. My needing to stop (and then hunt for a convenience store with Dramamine in stock) made us late for our intended arrival time, which meant walking into an unfamiliar cabin in the woods with our children, in the dark, while our host casually chatted about bear sightings and house fires. (My 8-year-old immediately asked to go back home.) I felt guilty for all of it.
The kindness of my husband and girls was reflective of God’s compassion—and made me aware of how often I receive that compassion, only to turn around and act harshly with others. Would I have been so gracious and patient if one of my kids or my husband had been the one losing their lunch? I hope I would have. I certainly will be in the future.
Speaking of compassion… I can’t get through this list without mentioning what I’ve learned through this election cycle, so I’ll share just a few things (no political commentary here, so you can keep reading in peace):
• Seeing photos of the candidates as children reminds me of their humanity and that God created them and loves them. The idea came from this guide, which helped me to shift my thinking about them.
• I’ve learned that platforms are much, much more complicated than they appear on the surface. Some things are just not as simple as I once naively believed. I’ve also learned that I don’t need someone to tell me who to vote for and why, because I have the Holy Spirit, the Word in front of me—the life and words of Christ!—and the ability to seek God for wisdom and discernment. He gives generously to those who ask (James 1:5).
• And back to Daniel one more time… If you need a little perspective during this election season and a reminder that God is the one in control, read the book of Daniel. He made King Nebuchadnezzar go crazy, eat grass, and eventually recognize God’s authority. Nothing is impossible. When fear threatens to creep in, I need to read the Bible. I already knew that, but during this season I need to be reminded every single day.
Want to check out past editions of What I Learned? You can find them here.