I was recently given a book of 500 writing prompts by my husband. It is a paper bound journal with various prompts to write about. The topics can range from silly things, like what would the weather be tomorrow if you could make it be a certain way, to very serious personal questions, like what is your biggest regret. It has become one of my favorite presents, ever. I LOVE writing in it. It is not always easy, but I believe that good writing takes practice. It has helped me begin to do that again.
One of the very first prompts in the book was to make a bucket list with ten things that I wanted to do or accomplish. I quickly began to realize that this was going to be a difficult thing to write about. Somewhere over the past few years I quit dreaming. I quit a lot of things, actually. I know longer set goals for myself short-term or long-term. Well, I had one goal, to make it to the end of each day. I lost myself in the deaths of loved ones. I lost hope whenever I found out just how cruel church people could really be. I lost desire and will as I struggled through bouts of depression and an uncontrollable thyroid. With each move that our little family made (we are currently in city number five, and house number six in nine years), I became more and more distant from my family, friends, and myself. My world had become dark, undesirable, and bitter.
About a year and a half ago, we moved to a new city. Being a Methodist pastoral family means moves, and sometimes often. I knew that going to a new place meant making new friends, new schools for the children, and a new congregation to love and serve. I did not move with an open heart. We had been wounded at our last church, and my deep hurts ran deep and still bled. I was in need of healing, and the temporal bandages that I kept trying to place on my wounds were not working. Every fear, doubt, and insecurity that I ever had seem to be creeping up their ugly heads at every turn. Something needed to change, but I could not do it.
My heart cried out to the Lord often, but weak and pitiful. My prayers usually turned from focusing on God to self-pity, worry, and doubt. I am not really sure at what point things began to heal. It was not all at once, or over night. It wasn’t one really great sermon or inspiring article that I read. It was slow, very slow. It was through the persistence of prayer, and not just my own. It was through painful tears that washed over like a balm. It was allowing myself to feel loved by others, especially my husband. It was allowing God to speak to me and not drowning out His voice with my own or distractions. The laughs of my children and the sparkle in their eyes brought life back to me. It was learning to show grace and quit being angry. I am not there all of the way. I still struggle, and I still need the Lord to heal parts of my heart that are wounded. I am learning to laugh, and often.
So, whenever I had to write a bucket list, I struggled at first because this is not an area that I had opened back up. I must admit, 30 minutes later, that I had fun writing it. I dreamed again. Some of them are fun things to do with my husband and/or kids, while some of them are extremely personal. I think that posting them is a good way to let down some of those walls that I have built up. Regardless, here is my first attempt at writing a bucket list, with hopefully many more things to add!
- Travel to Greece
- Go paddleboarding somewhere exotic
- Travel to a beach in Spain
- Preach in front of a thousand people
- Publish a book
- See the Northern lights
- Host a large multi-denominational conference
- Have a photograph published
- Write a magaizine article
- Learn to play the guitar and write music