December 30, 2008
I have a small problem. I know everything. Or I'm pretty sure I know everything. It's a heavy burden to carry, really, this knowing everything. I have never been accused of withholding an opinion, an idea, a viewpoint. For years, I have doled out advice, some solicited, some not. I have become quite confident in my view on how one should live one's life. At 27 1/2 years old, I have it figured out. Halleluja!! So, for any needs, consider me in your lineup. Maybe 1. God. 2. The Dalai Lama. 3. Keri Sullivan. I'm happy to consider myself among that crowd.
And what a better time to use my knowledge than with the fam at Christmas. There is a reason they say 'compassion begins at home.' It's because home is often where we need to have and receive the most compassion. Our families, especially around the holidays, have a way of bringing out the worst in us sometimes. My theory (see above confidence in my theories), is that with our families, all our guards are down. There is no need to be anyone but who we are at our most bare. And often that person is the least desirable of the "Keri's" I am in a given week. So, for Christmas this year, Santa put a BIG slice of humble pie in my stocking. I prefer chocolate or lemon pie. He preferred the kind that takes my butt off my shoulders.
From the start of Christmas eve, I, the eldest and presumably wisest, child, was managing my parents house. What to eat, where to go, where we would go to Midnight Mass. Insert conflict number 1. After micromanaging the spiritual plans of all Sullivan's, 11:15 came around but some folks didn't make it to Mass. I was angry. I looked at the Christmas gifts that grew halfway up our tree and wondered (aloud, of course) why people weren't knocking each other down to get to Mass to thank God for the absurd (see hidden opinion on the amount of gifts in Sullivan land) amount of gifts in front of the tree. I left for Mass M.A.D. Now to keep my mom's comments to a minimum, there were some valid reasons for them missing Mass. The point is, it was NOT. MY. PLACE to insert my beliefs on them. And as I entered, I was struck by something. The person to my left, my grandmother, was the person God used to give me faith. And the person on my right, Ross, is the person that daily grows it and nurtures it. Grateful should have been my emotion, not mad. And because of the Grace that God gives me on a secondly basis, my heart did change. The Humble pie made it into my system. Because you know what? On any given Sunday, I can be found reading the bulletin during the homily. I can be found people watching, gawking at babies instead of listening. My faith and devotion needs some work. And that needs to come long before any ideas about anyone else's faith. Humble Pie slice number one. Check.
While this lesson hit me the hardest, rest assured I had many opinions about how life should be lived left to give. I lectured my parents on spending too much on us, but didn't blink when my dad handed me a wad of cash for my haircut. I didn't blink when my mom treated Katie and I to lunch and me to an after Christmas free people shirt. Sure, SAVE SAVE SAVE I say. Unless you want to spend that money on me, in which case, you can afford to give a little. I think Webster defines hypocrit as "Kerilyn Elizabeth Sullivan." And it doesn't stop there. I had many opinions on the nutrition content of what we were eating. 'Dad, those nature's valley bars have no protein, no fiber and they are 170 calories of nothing'. Except dad can't understand me because there is a butterfinger in my mouth as I lecture. 'Mom, you've got to cut back on your cokes.' Hidden message : you should drink cancer-causing, aspertame loaded diet drinks like me. You might have cancer, but hey, we'll all be thinner.
I am nauseating myself as I write this. During what really was one of the best trips home I've had, I really wanted to process why I needed to control the planet when my own life could use some improved managing itself. So, as Ross rescued me from myself and we spent a few hours hiking in Skidaway Island State Park, my thoughts started to form. Surrounded by simple love that I didn't deserve, on a beautiful 75 degree Savannah Christmas day, I could have fallen on my knees in reconciliation. Among the trees and the marsh and the happy dog frolicking in front of me, it became a little more clear.
See, these things I think I know all about, they make me passionate. First, the love of God, the love of Jesus make me want to shout to the mountaintops. Because trust me folks. If this guy can love this girl, there is hope for US ALL! I won't apologize for wanting Him to be loved, adored, trusted, thanked, worshipped. I do believe that every day, especially His birthday, he deserves to be acknowledged for the gifts that HE alone gives. And I am passionate about wasteful spending and consumerism. I've talked before about JustFaith, my class that teaches 'to consume more than you need is to steal from those in need.' What we have is not ours, but given to us by God, to be used for God. And health. Well, that's something I am the worst at but so want to be better. Mostly I just want my parents to be able to run down the soccer field with my children.
So these things I want to lecture the world about are not bad things. But Lord Have Mercy, seriously, have mercy. Because I am miles and miles from where I should be on any of them. So to any/all of you that I have lectured on how to live your life, any part of it, please forgive me. God kicked my butt of my shoulders and for a little while longer at least, I'm still feeling the effects of that humility. In the course of telling my family what to do, God showed me that I have a lot to learn about Him, about money, about health, about humility. So, raise your glasses to God. Because of Him and his gentle grace, I will be working on myself more, and on you less. Yes, take that deep breath again, you have at least another week's pass on any direction from me!