It's that time of the month again: when I recap some of the standout things I learned over the last 28-31 days. I started doing this in (or after) April 2015, partnering with Emily P. Freeman and other bloggers around the crazy world of the Internet to engage in the practice of looking back and appreciating what lies behind before I move forward. And since August is the month of the restart of school, and with it, the flurry of activity that comes with Life, this month's recap is full of my little discoveries that graced my days of Texas heat. Here's what I learned in July:
1. The Narnia soundtracks still got it.
Confession: I used to be obsessed with the Narnia movies (the most recent ones). One of my favorite things about them were their beautiful scores, composed by Harry Gregson-Williams. When my family was on vacation, my mom played one of the pieces from the soundtrack to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for us. It all came back to me: the purity, the adventurousness, the enchantment of that music. It reminds me of royalty and something older and grander than myself. The majestic theme music always gives me goosebumps. Something about it speaks to my soul -- I can't really explain how. I couldn't believe I had forgotten how good this music is. I found the CDs at our house and put them on my phone, and I haven't stopped listening since.
2. How to listen.
Granted, I'm still learning this. I think it's a lifelong journey. But this month I've read some excellent things about how to be a better listener. One of them was Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman (click here to discover what that's all about); the other was a blog post Emily wrote called So You Want To Be A Better Listener (I kept it in my email inbox -- that's how good it was). In this new book, Emily writes about learning to quiet our need for validation and simply listen to other people. We don't have to speak up or try to relate by providing an example of when the same thing happened to us. In fact, I find that when I do that, I'm only seeking to validate myself, to lay claim to things, to say "Me too!" I want to tout my own importance. But that isn't what listening is about. I'm learning to simply ask questions, to be a kind companion, to simply be there. I don't have to talk -- and as a chronic fixer, this is incredibly difficult. But I'm learning to sit back, relax, and free myself from my own pressure to push into my friends. Instead, I can rest in Christ and be their companion. And I think that's what people need most.
3. Having your pupils dilated is no joke.
I hadn't had an eye exam in a LONG time. The last time I had one was probably in high school, and early in high school. I don't correct my vision in any way, but I figured it was as good a time as any to get my eyes checked, just to see. The people at the eye clinic needed to dilate my pupils in order to see to the back of my eye. They warned me that I wouldn't be able to see anything up close for a few hours, and that I would be super sensitive to brightness. Okay. Cool. Whatever. NO. NOT COOL. They gave me these tacky sunglass lenses that I could unroll (Let's talk about THAT for a second) and put on my face because otherwise I would have been blind. I also couldn't read. I made the excellent decision to go to the bookstore after this. I had to hold things at arm's length to even see them a little. This must be what old age feels like.
4. It's okay to be at home.
After I came home from family vacation, I planned to go back to Lubbock and work. But my workplace forgot to put me on the schedule, so I had nothing to do. I was missing my family a ton, and my mom invited me to come back home for the rest of the summer and work for her. I gladly accepted, but was instantly seized by a sudden fear. Is it cowardly to go running home to your family when you're twenty years old? Is it wrong to go back to your childhood home when you feel lonely and have nothing to do? Was I being childish? The answer to all of these questions was a clear and resounding NO, in my mother's voice. It's okay to go home and be with family. Sometimes you need them. We all need our people. It's okay to feel the need.
5. Imperfections make us approachable!
WHAT, says my inner perfectionist. It's true! Myquillyn Smith (aka The Nester) writes about this in her book The Nesting Place. She says that when she goes into a perfect home, she feels less comfortable. If we don't allow others to see our imperfections, they don't know they can trust us with their own imperfections. I love community. I crave it. I want others to trust me with their mess; I want to be that companion to them. But this means I have to let down my guard and trust them with my mess. This is difficult for me, because I care about looking perfect to other people. But I think this is a question of holy courage: do I trust God enough to allow myself to be imperfect -- to be who I am in front of other people? That's really the question at hand. May my answer be a resounding yes.
6. How to change the time zone on the blog.
Guys. I've been writing on this platform for over a year. It has bothered me for a year that the time zone of my blog has been Greenwich Mean Time, but for the love of God, I could not figure out how to change it! I am almost 21! I have lived most of my life in the twenty-first century! Why is technology defeating me?! Answer: because I'm actually a grandma. I did some Googling and discovered the very easy way to change the time sone. It involved clicking on an option I had already clicked at least five times. I felt ridiculous. Technology: 1. Sara: 0.
What did y'all learn this month? Comment below! I would love to hear about it.