Lessons: Sub Zero Edition

I snowmobiled for years. I can handle cold. When there is snow on the ground and you live in a place with snow sports… it’s epic. Snowboarding. Skiing. Snowmobiling. You need the cold to keep the snow, to keep the fun.

But. I live in central Illinois. We do not have mountains or skis resorts or snowmobile trails. We have pothole stricken roads.

A ridiculous stretch of cold nonsense every winter is expected. And yet, I am now a wuss. And in the middle of my prayers for the weather to be above zero, I (re)learned a few lessons.

1. Sneezes on stairs are dangerous.

I thought sneezing while driving was dangerous. I almost fell down the stairs. The embarrassment of admitting that at the ER would be next level. Like the time I walked into a doorframe at school and split my eyebrow open… but that’s another story for another day.

Do not sneeze on the stairs.

2. “No,” doesn’t have to result in self-doubt.

If enough people say no to what you have to offer… how should you respond?

  • When your request for friendship as an adult doesn’t get a second “date”.
  • When your business proposal isn’t signed.
  • When you’re not invited to the kid play date thing (and you assume it’s because you don’t have kids)…
  • When you’re ghosted.
  • When a prayer seems to go unanswered.

Self-doubt is that dude who interrupts you in every meeting. Who steals your rhythm and cuts you off.

Self-doubt can be healthy if you need to check yourself and get off the pedestal you put yourself on. But most often it’s unfounded lies you tell yourself about your own value.

You do really bad math. You add up unconnected events and experiences and people to tell yourself a narrative… that you’re an imposter. That you’re not as good as people led you to believe. That you’re not friend material anymore. That you don’t fit.

Here’s some truth.

Not “your truth”. Bible truth.

The God of the universe chose to create you. Chose. You. And sacrificed his life for you. Chose. You. You were worth creating and worthy saving. That is what makes you valuable.

Could you learn more earthly stuff and get more earthly degrees and certifications? Sure. But it doesn’t change your intrinsic value.

Whether I’m invited or not. Whether I’m ghosted or not. Whether I attend the conference, get the degree, land the contract… or not… there is something I don’t have to doubt. And even if I do, there is grace for that, too.

God created me on purpose for a purpose. To love him and love others in such a way that it points more people to Jesus. Even if those people respond with “No”.

3. Sometimes priorities mean you pour the beer before you remove your coat.

I am the proud owner of the final two cans of an amazing beer. I chose not to wait to pour it, sip it, and record the occasion of a great week.

I woke up with self-doubt (see #2 above) but I also remembered the importance of relationships and generosity. And that this week I was able to take part in donating a lot of money to a local charity through an idea our company imagined. We came up with it and executed it, and it was amazing to see it come to reality.

So yeah. I poured a beer with my coat on for a few reasons. Good reasons.

Thanks Craig for the hook up. You’re the man.

4. Be careful what you search for.

The ads won’t stop. I work in marketing. I know how this works. The ads won’t stop.

I signed up for ONE conference. I joined ONE Facebook group for a software product I use.

No. I do not want your super easy sounds too good to be true solution that exploits the intellect of others for my financial gain. No. I do not want to listen to your advice on how to buy up domains and sell them at astronomical prices. No. I do not want you reducing expertise to a super easy do it from home workout training side-hustle.

Ugh. Snake oil is sold in ALL industries.

It’s hard to stay on social media when you work in marketing. It’s hard to leave. (Because you work in marketing.) So… time to mess with the algorithm for my own sanity and fill the search bar with different things.

Hint: if you want your social media newsfeed to be filled with feel good stuff… search for puppies and rainbows. Follow pages with puppies and rainbows. Comment in posts about puppies and rainbows. For the rest of your life (or until you search something else), all you will see are puppies and rainbows.

You’re welcome.

5. Mourning doesn’t stop. It just changes.

Busia died today, four years ago. I held her hand. I prayed with her. I talked to her. I climbed into the bed beside her and had our heads rest on one another like we used to in the recliner chair… while she told me stories. I was there for her last breath.

Missing doesn’t stop.

Sometimes it’s downright water works and snotty-nose-can’t-talk type of tears as I tell my husband I miss her. Sometimes it’s looking at her photo and smiling and feeling loved all over again. Occasionally days go by without a thought. Sometimes it’s a song and I can’t see while I’m driving. Or it’s an old woman at the grocery store. Or a video for a client, and the subject looks like her and sounds like her and uses language like her.

Sometimes it’s too much. Most days it’s not enough.

That’s what love does. When you love big, you mourn big, you miss big.

And in the midst of my own mourning, I hold onto a virtual hug for a friend.

This weekend my friend buries her father.


My dear friend,

Mourning will be weird and uncomfortable. People will be awkward and not know what to say. Out of love you’ll get cliches because they love you so much and don’t want to make the hurt worse.

You will focus on what you can do. There will be things to do. You will be the organized one. The strong one. The one who speaks and coordinates and keeps the peace.

And then it will stop. And you will be still. And you’ll sit with God.

I don’t know what emotion you will feel first or what you’ll tell him.

It could be anger. Joy. Relief. Sadness. Regret. Confusion. All of the above. None of the above. That’s between you and God and it’s all okay. There isn’t a right way or a wrong way or a normal way. There isn’t an algorithm or a step-by-step process of checkboxes.

I wish I could hug you and tell you I love you. I would tell you it won’t be okay. It will be weird. And awkward. And maddening and saddening. An ebb and flow across a spectrum. At events where he should have been you will look around for him. At inopportune moments when you least expect it you’ll need to excuse yourself from a meeting. And you’ll also have no reaction when others expect you to, and you’ll feel guilty for that, too.

It will change over time and be as unique as your relationship was to one another.

This is mourning. Don’t wish it away. Walk through it. Remember, Jesus wept. Remember you don’t have to be alone in it if you don’t want to (and sometimes you might want to).

My one bit of advice. Let other people in. When it’s a bad day, share that. When you have a good memory that makes you smile, share that. It helps people see you and love you fully.

And love big. It matters most in this life.

Love always,

Jess

thoughts go here... be nice... be thankful...

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