I Didn’t Make It Onto Any Lists This Year

nothereIt’s that season.

The season where bloggers, writers, thought-makers and all-around-incredible people give us all a peek into their brains, their libraries, their “must haves” of 2012. I feel a bit like a voyeur, I have to admit, but I’m also busily taking notes.

I really like this time of year. Whatever you feel about New Year’s resolutions, the seam between years is a liminal space, one that invites reflection, vision, hope. This week, I’m working on a new Rule of Life for 2013. I’m looking at my commitments and callings, and choosing to live proactively for those things.

I’m also choosing (to the best of my ability and with Jesus’s much-needed help) to take a hard look at where I’ve been fooling myself this year, what I’ve not been doing well, where I’ve been failing to live out values that are deeply important to me.

That’s hard, I’ve got to tell you. It’s hard not because I’m pretty good at telling you my obvious faults (I am) but because I’m pretty good at using those obvious faults to hide what’s really going on, the things I don’t even want to tell myself. I have a huge capacity for self-deception—we all do.

But I’m also being guided by a phrase I first heard as I was training to become a supervisor. Our professor described the process of supervision as “a long, loving look at the Real.”



Two things that I’d rather squirm away from. You see, I’d rather just take a quick glance at my life. Instead of letting the slow scrutiny of time, exploration and the Holy Spirit reveal some nooks and crannies that I haven’t been into in a while (or some that I didn’t even know existed), I’d rather breeze through, notice the disorganized piles in the corner, admire the new pictures on the wall and tch-tch-tch at the dust that seems to accumulate on the altar of my soul. Moving quickly through the rooms of my life lets me avoid seeing the things that I might only see if I really took that long look: a window frame that’s showing signs of stress, letting in cold air and seeping away my energy; the flow between the rooms that, if I’d look long and hard enough, could use some rearranging to make life a little easier to negotiate without bumping into corners all the time.

And, loving. Oh, do I like to look at myself critically. It’s so easy to do. I know at least some of my limitations, and it’s so much simpler to look at what’s wrong with my soul-space that what’s right. I have a trusted spiritual mentor who tells me repeatedly to STOP BEING MEAN TO TARA.

Being mean is so satisfying though, so useful. I can whip myself harder and beat myself up about the state of the few rooms that I know of—because those are things that I can control. It is so, so much safer to assume that I know what all of the rooms inside of me look like, instead of letting the God who dwells within me show me how vast the space really is. If I knew how big the mansion inside of me really was (or at least had more of an inkling than I do now), I’d have to stop being content playing it small, inviting Him into only parts of me, pretending that what I have to give is really just this little space that I’ve been living in for the past little while.

And, when I choose to love myself, to love what I see, I need to receive the grace that I so readily give. To sit under a loving gaze for a long time—my own loving gaze—is to really accept that I am the Beloved of God, that my needs matter, and that the performance imperatives that I step back into so quickly (I’m only valuable if…, When I get this type of recognition, I’ll know that I’m contributing to the world.).

And this is where I tell you that I didn’t make it onto anyone’s list of the most interesting writers or up-and-coming women to watch. This week, I’ll be revising my website to state that the book that I’m writing will probably come out in 2014—I’ve missed a major deadline along the way this year. I haven’t blogged like I’ve wanted to, I haven’t written, and I haven’t been out there finding, meeting or inspiring the kinds of people (all of them truly wonderful) who will be changing the world in 2013.

It’s as part of that long, loving look at the Real that I tell you that—because Jesus doesn’t care how many lists I made it onto. He isn’t impressed when I get a mention on Twitter, or share this blog post on Facebook. He isn’t waiting for me to change the world—He isn’t waiting for anything from me.


Instead, He’s waiting for me to recognize who I already am. He’s standing patiently, kindly with me until I stop scurrying through my life, and, when I do, He’s ready to show me what He sees about me.

I’ve done a little of that slowing down this week. Just a little. And there’s more to come. There are some beautiful things God has shown me about myself. Beautiful, sacred things that I’m going to ponder in my heart.

And He’s reminded me, again, that He’s here, in the midst of my messes, failures, and also-rans. That He’s using my desire to be recognized, molding and shaping it into something different, something redemptive. He’s showing me that I’m more than I think I am, inside and out, and that He has some pretty incredible places to explore with me in 2013.

So, I didn’t make it onto any lists this year. And, true confession, that still really irks me some. I can’t get away from that. But I can let it propel me beyond the perimeters of my soul, into the more that God has waiting for me.

And that’s a “Best Of” list that I can’t wait to read.

What about you? Do you rush through self-evaluation, just to keep things safe? Is there a way that you weren’t recognized in 2012 that stings? What do you think God has to say about that?