Frank Sinatra has a song entitled, “The Things We Did Last Summer.” Of course, music being what it is, he’s not the only one who ever sang that song, but as we’re all aware he’s the most important.
I’ve had the title of this song on my mind for quite a while now. You see, the last four months or so of my life have taught me a lot. Particularly the last two months. And for some reason, every time my writer mind tries to make sense of all the lessons I’ve learned this song title comes to my mind. But with a twist. And I’ve decided that if I were to ever write a book about everything I’ve learned in the last two months, I’d title it, “The Things We Learned Last Summer.”
I personally think it’s a pretty great title. It would also be a very good book, too, for that matter.
All of you are aware that this blog has been an interesting place lately. I, Jordan, the queen of keeping my readers in the dark about what’s going on in my life, have been very, very open about my recent heartbreak.
My life just came to the point where I truly and honestly did not care anymore. Every decision was prefaced with a, “Well. Why not?”
So all of you got to see very clearly and deeply into some of the blackest moments of my life. Congratulations. I’m sure it was thrilling for you. (Please note the sarcasm, I’m sure it wasn’t that fun.)
But goodness, I’ve learned a lot. God has been super enthused about teaching me lessons, and I’m doing all that I can to absorb them like a sponge. Tonight I’m feeling a little more introspective than usual, which can only spell disaster to be honest but we’ll roll with it. I’d like to here record a few of the lessons I’ve learned. I’m doing this more for myself than for any of you, so I apologize for that, but hopefully you can take something from this post and not have to learn through experience the way that I did. So, here we go.
The Things We Learned Last Summer:
- The only one who knows exactly how you’re feeling is God. He knows every aspect of your life, and He’s right there for you. No matter what type of heartache you are facing, He understands. He gets it 100%. I can’t even count the number of times I sat crying and felt Him right there, or the number of times I was suddenly assaulted by memories that caused a jolt of pain and heard Him whisper very simply, “I know.” He knows. I promise.
- As scary as love is, it is absolutely worth it. I spent such a long time being terrified of love, and swearing that I’d never let anybody in so far that they’d have power to destroy me. But that’s what love is. You let somebody in further than you even let yourself in, and you give them all of your love and trust. Every single infinite wave of it. And sometimes it hurts. But it is worth it because at the end of the day, love is absolutely beautiful. And it conquers all. It really, really does. Love comes from many different places, and in many different forms, but it can heal wounds and transcend all hurts.
- Never give up on anyone. Including yourself. God will never, ever give up on you. And you shouldn’t give up on others, either. Or yourself for that matter. We are all going to make mistakes, we are all going to do things that hurt others. We’re human, that’s just the way it works.
- But we forgive. We forgive because it is the right thing to do. We forgive because we want to be forgiven. We forgive because it is the only way to heal. Forgiveness requires love. They go hand in hand.
- Listen to God. I’ve been taught this so, so much over the last year or so, and it has really been driven home the last two months. When you receive an answer from God, when you know what you are supposed to do: DO IT. It doesn’t matter how crazy it seems, it doesn’t matter how ridiculous. It doesn’t matter how hard. JUST. DO. IT. If He has given you the answer, He will also provide a way for you to accomplish it. Just listen. Just do it.
- Be patient. Life is a process.
- Avoid slamming doors. Literally and figuratively. In a literal sense, slamming doors is just not good for them. In a figurative sense, it is not good for you or others. Believe me, my personality is the queen of slamming doors. It is a defense mechanism that I may or may not have expressed pride in before. I’m quickly learning it’s not something to be proud of. When something horrible happens to me, my very first instinct is to slam the door as hard as I can and run away as fast as I can. To get rid of anything and everything to do with that situation, to treat it as though it is dead to me, and completely move on as though it never existed or occurred. This is not only very complicated (you have no idea how irritating it is when you think you’ve gotten rid of all the evidence of something only to find more evidence weeks later when you aren’t as angry and can’t decide what to do with it) but it’s just not really healthy. And doesn’t promote growth and learning. Most of the time, you’ll be slamming a door prematurely and burning a bridge that wasn’t ready to be burned. And then it takes a little bit of time to reestablish things all because you got a little too hasty to run away from what hurt you. So just don’t do it.
- Stay creative. It fills a lot of empty spaces, and enhances the full ones.
- There are, in fact, some things that Frank Sinatra can’t fix. I know. I was just as shocked as you are. For years and years and years I not only wholeheartedly believed Frank could fix anything, he always had fixed anything in my life. No matter what I was going through, it was nothing that Frank Sinatra couldn’t fix. Not this time. Not this time. I tried it, believe me. I played his music and willed it work away the grief, to pull away the emptiness. But it didn’t. Not this time. I even angrily asked him about it and his picture seemed to answer back, “I can’t fix it this time, baby. I’m sorry.”
- Never stop turning to God. I needed to learn the previous point in order to better understand this point. My love for Frank Sinatra has brought a lot of happiness into my life, really, and despite how melodramatic I can be about it I’m very grateful for it. His music makes me happy, and I enjoy sharing facts about him. It’s always been a blessing. I have a firm belief that God gives us things like this to enhance and brighten our existence, to help us in good and bad times. But these interests that fill the corners of our lives are not a substitute for God. They make us happy, they are wonderful, but at the end of the day it isn’t our passion for cooking or our love of black and white film that will save us. It is God. Never stop turning to Him. On good days as well as bad, talk with Him. Tell Him everything. Review the plan of your life. Let Him know how you’re doing on the things you’ve agreed to do. Give Him a report. Make sure you’re still doing what He wants. Thank Him. Praise Him.
- Trust your own journey. God has a different plan for each and every one of us. Nobody’s story is the same. What works for some people won’t work for others. Everybody has a different journey because we all need to learn differently. This is why it is so, so incredibly crucial to stay close to God and to listen to Him when He gives us answers and direction. To be faithful.
- Believe in happiness. Never, ever let go of hope. Never let go of love. In the darkest pit of despair, remember that you are never, ever alone because of God. If you can’t see the sunlight, and can’t remember how it feels to have it shine on your face, if happiness is so far away that it is only a cruel memory, just have hope. Hope that you’ll feel it again. Hope that it does exist. Believe that whatever you’re going through will be worth it one hundred times over when you feel the happiness awaiting you. Because when we get to that darkness, complete joy and happiness are closer than we think. Just around the corner. And when the sun finally comes out again, it will be worth every moment. I promise.
- We all face hardship, and there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, and telling people that you need it. There is no shame in sleeping on lots of couches or spending too much time with your friends if that’s what it takes to bring you into a new day. Take advantage of the love and support that you have around you. Gather those people around your heart and let them love you. You’ll be able to return this love someday.
- Discover new interests, and rediscover old ones. Like I said, God gives us these things to enhance our lives. It is such a great experience to make room for a new talent or hobby, to feel that passion starting up in your life again. Take advantage of the beauty the world has to offer. Rediscover something you love. Pretend you’re seeing it for the first time. (Frank and I are on good terms, by the way. I’m listening to him right now and all is well. So, there you go, proof of the rediscovery process.)
- Believe in goodness. I have this personality flaw where I sometimes say that I hate people. And when I say that I usually think I mean it, but somebody very close to me recently let me know that this isn’t the case. I don’t really hate people. In fact, I love people. I love humanity. I love every aspect of what makes us human. I love being human. And I have this overly optimistic view of what that means. Honestly, I do. I love to believe in the better side of people and things. It really takes a lot for me to just think of somebody as downright horrible. I love to believe in beauty and goodness. I love to believe in the good. That’s just who I am. And it is honestly a blessing. We are surrounded by enough negativity as it is. We face enough hardship and sorrow as it is. Just choose to believe in the better side.
- Don’t look back. When you’ve gotten your answer from God, no matter how scary, ridiculous, or insane it might seem and you decide to just jump and go for it, go all the way. Jump and do not look back. DO NOT LOOK BACK. God has got it covered. He’s led you to that cliff for a reason, and given you that answer for a reason. And He will not let you fail if you just have faith. There will be no hitting the bottom. You’ll jump, and you’ll land in happiness. I promise. Don’t look back. Not for one second. Jump.
- Trust God. This is just a lump way of summing all this up. Just trust Him. I know it can be hard. Believe me, I know. I’ve got a rich history of trust issues. But He is God, and He created all things. He will not give you answers you cannot follow. He will not let you cry tears He can’t wipe away. He will not give you wounds that can’t be healed. He is capable of ALL THINGS. And through Him, we are capable of ALL THINGS. So no matter what, stay close to Him. Believe Him. Listen to Him. Trust Him. He’s got it under control. Just believe me. Follow Him, talk with Him, and trust the path He sets before you. He wants you to be happy and He’s got a plan to make that happen. Trust Him.