Written by McKayla Adams

 

Not all who wander are lost.

J.R.R. Tolkien

 

…but, maybe a lot of us are….

 

The “Not all who wander are lost” quote from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series has become a quote that is hard to escape. It's plastered across posters, photos, jewelry and journals. In fact, my mom bought for me an engraved necklace with the very quote.

 

The definition of “wander” according to dictionary.com is “to ramble without a finite purpose or objective—to go aimlessly or to stray.”

 

But, why would we wander in the first place?

 

For a lot of us, this quote stirs in us a desire to travel…to wander away from our routines and sameness. To discover newness. This can be an amazing thing! Stirring away from our comfort zone, growing in new experiences, or even leading to journeys of self-discovery and deeper faith.

 

Some of us, in fact, just love to wander. I am one of them. I am constantly in search of a new adventure. I’m sure that’s why mom thought of me when she saw this necklace.

 

Although wandering can be a journey of growth and discovery, I fear that sometimes the desire to wander can come from an unhealthy motivation of a broken state; that the desire to wander is aroused from a physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual discontentment.

 

Maybe we are even unknowingly trying to wander away from a painful storm we are in the center of. I know this first-hand.

 

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I heard an old man speak once… He said that he’d finally figured out a few years ago that his profound sense of control, in the world and over his life, is an addiction and a total illusion. He said that when he sees little kids sitting in the back seat of cars, in those car seats that have steering wheels, with grim expressions of concentration on their faces, clearly convinced that their efforts are causing the car to do whatever it is doing, he thinks of himself and his relationship with God: God who drives along silently, gently amused, in the real driver’s seat.

Anne Lamott 

 

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I don’t know if it’s because I’m a firstborn. A child of divorce. A burden-bearer by nature that desperately wants everything to be alright. Or a combination of all three. 

 

But, I do know this… I definitely struggle with control issues. 

 

I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had over the years with my Spiritual Director that have centered around this stumbling stone in my life. 

 

I’ve wrestled down the need to please others. Perhaps when you are pushing sixty you finally realize that the only one worth pleasing is God. I’ve made this my goal now…

 

Walk worthy of the Lord, please him in everything…

Colossians 1:10 

 

I’ve also learned to let go of perfectionism. 

 

Unfortunately for my boys, I didn’t learn that lesson until later in their childhood. Poor guys would stand befuddled in the middle of a room wondering where their toys went when they turned their backs on them. In an effort to keep the house neat and tidy, toys got swept away into the toybox as quickly as the boys would set them down.  

 

My sister once challenged me about my need to have everything in its place and it hurt me terribly. But, I got the message loud and clear one evening when after scurrying around like a mad woman after the boys, my hubby asked me, “Is the President of the United States coming for dinner?” I responded with a quizzical “no.” “Then let the boys play!” he responded.

 

Young mommies take a tip from me… 

Parents, don’t exasperate your children…

Ephesians 6:4

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I like the concept of setting some resolutions for the new year. I feel like January is a time of reset, a chance to take a deep breath and head into the next year with a plan to become someone, well…better.

 

Numerous polls and articles list the top resolutions. Some people want to be thinner, some stronger, some wiser, some wealthier. Some want to be more generous, while others want to read the Bible more. Most of these goals have something in common—people want to be better versions of themselves. Let’s face it, we all want to improve. And the start of a new year gives us an opportunity to start fresh.

 

After all, the writers in the Bible are continually encouraging us to try and follow Christ’s example, reminding us to be…better.

 

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14)

 

Julius Caesar instituted New Year's Day on January 1 to honor Janus, the two-faced god who looks backwards into the old year and forwards into the new. The custom of New Year’s resolutions began in ancient times, as the Romans made resolutions with a moral bent—mostly to be good to others. To them, Janus was the god of beginnings. 

 

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You probably base your self-image on past experiences. If you’ve failed, you feel like a failure. If you’ve made poor decisions, you think of yourself as stupid. That’s the old way of thinking. When you gave your life to Jesus, he made you entirely new. Your poor choices—made either before or after beginning a relationship with Jesus—do not define you. You need to feel good about yourself or you will never live the life God has for you.

 – Leon Fontaine, The Spirit Contemporary Life

 

The other day I received yet another free gift in the mail. It seems that once you give to a charity, your name gets around. It must be an effective way of incentivizing donations—mailing out calendars, note pads, labels, cards, coins, stickers.

 

As I was opening my latest envelope—from a charity I had never heard of—I perused the enclosed gifts; the Christmas address labels went into the trash—my name has been misspelled for years with a small “a” and I just couldn’t do it again. Then my eyes landed on the Christmas gift labels. I might keep those.

 

My relationship with labels, though, has become rather intense lately.

 

There are some labels I just love. I thrive on order, and anything that helps me achieve that is comparable to Sony and Cher (yes, I know they broke up later, but I’m still in denial).

 

Labels help my life run more efficiently. They let me know what I and my family and friends can find in certain bins without digging. Labels tell me what package goes to which special person. They tell me what ingredients and nutrition are in a bag or can. They tell me how I can most effectively wash each item of clothing.

 

There is another type of label, though, that I am disliking the more I get acquainted with it... And those are labels we place on people.

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“I’m feeling very thin and vulnerable, in a good way.”

Amy Layne Litzelman

 

It hit out of nowhere. The flu.

 

It started as a simple little sore throat the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

 

Soon the “dripping facet” phase kicked in, and I couldn’t get Kleenex’s to my nose fast enough.

 

The bug hit my vocal cords next leaving me speechless for almost a week. Which some may not have thought such a bad outcome. But, then, gravity pulled it all down into my lungs and the coughing fits began, leaving me exhausted.

 

I won’t bore you with any more details. But, let’s just say there is a reason why I’m sharing my woes with you.

 

You see, it’s the holidays. And with the holidays come certain expectations.

 

Gifts, for one. As I’ve been incapacitated these days, shopping is out. Fortunately, we live in the days of Cyber deals. So at least I’ve got that one covered.

 

But, there are other expectations.

 

Like cookie baking. By this time in December I would’ve had several varieties of Christmas cookies made and in the deep freeze. But, this year I just baked my first batch. And it may be the only batch.

 

Like decorating. Most of my decorations are still in plastic bins out in our garage.

 

Like hosting parties. Due to my nasty bug, there will be no parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting or caroling out in the snow...

 

I find it all a bit depressing not being able to pull it altogether and create the kind of Christmas we’ve had in the past.

 

But, I know that I’m not the only one struggling to keep up this Christmas.

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