Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Wisdom of the New Year's Cracker

Similar to the British tradition of Christmas crackers, Germans have their very own version of being charmed by a little toy and a silly attempt of wisdom. Every year on New Year's Eve we abandon our voice of reason and gleefully try to decipher whatever cryptic message we receive after popping the cracker. Back in 2012, the meaning of the little piece of paper I received totally bypassed me and - approximately 3 minutes later - I forgot about it all together. Today, little over a year later, I still don’t remember but I think the “wisdom”-part of it all finally hit home – and trust me, it was not because the meaning transpired after all. Instead, I simply lived. 2013 was intense and I conclude that, in hindsight, this is what my New Years Cracker should have read instead:

There is a silver lining to everything. 
2013 was bittersweet. It was probably the hardest year of my life - but also the most necessary year to happen. I experienced exhilarating heights, which in return made the lows feel so much worse. I don’t think I’ve ever cried as much as I have this past year – from silent tears just spilling down my face to loud weeping, sobbing and wailing: Been there, done that. Silver lining you ask? Well, I may have cried a lot but I also drank a lot of water because crying makes you extremely thirsty. If you think about it, it all makes perfect sense, but I doubt I would have ever known.

Just like adding water to instant food leaves you with a meal, buying a sofa makes you an adult instantly.
Up until my early twenties I wondered how I would ever know know that I am an adult. I had hoped for a live-changing event – however, when the signing of my first apartment lease during my first year of university did not quite conjure the emotions of adulthood I had hoped for, I surrendered my expectations. Instead, I started to believe that the transition into adulthood was a gradual adjustment to a lifestyle dominated by engagements, weddings and babies after all. 2013, though, proved me wrong: I bought a sofa and never before in my life have I felt so grown-up.

Trains. Always. Win.
So I have this very generalizing and only-by-my-own-experiences-verified theory. I call it “Of Trains and Tracks” and essentially, this is what it says: Culturally and behaviorally, the British resemble tracks. They are rather gentle, happy to not stray too far away from the beaten track and too polite to make actual decisions – their life is just like that of a train track whose path has been pre-determined by someone else. Germans, on the other hand, are like trains. Loud, push-overs and quite sure of where they are going. Now, while it surely is no problem to be a track among many tracks, or even to be a train among tracks, I very quickly learned that being a track among many trains leaves at the mercy of a whole bunch of people.

Sometimes we must forgive God.
To all my theology friends out there, hear me out; I know that theologically we have no legitimate basis that would ever grant us the right to forgive God, but sometimes we need to put the “how-it-ought-to-be’s” aside and deal with reality. If we feel wronged, let down, left alone, or hurt by God, then – regardless of whether it is rational – we need to deal with it. If feelings of disappointment endanger and intoxicate our relationship with Him, then we not only need to readjust our understanding of God but we also need to forgive Him. Just like we would do with any other friend.

To be fully known and yet loved surpasses everything. 
And this is where it ends. I moved twice this year and a total of 8 times within the last 5 years and the single most important thing I have learned is that no matter where we are, and no matter by whom we are surrounded, and no matter what the circumstances are, we can love and we can allow to be loved. To be vulnerable, to cry, to laugh, and to live life where there is love is the most liberating experience to ever encounter.

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