YOU gave me many gifts in 2010

by Kristin on January 6, 2011

in Culture, ideas & paradigms

Photo by mmlolek

In a perfect world, this was supposed to be a New Year’s Day post—my take on looking back, looking ahead, being grateful, etc. Then life went amok, as life is prone to do, and I was left thinking “Shoot, I missed my window of opportunity.”

But I’m tired of letting life dictate the windows, all the while throwing obstacles in your path making it nearly impossible to reach those windows before they close. I really like the idea for this post, and I’m going to publish it anyway.

As I was looking back at my 2010 posts, pondering what kind of “year in review” post I might want to write, I was drawn again and again to the comments, not the posts. So many of you inspire and encourage me regularly, pushing my thinking in new directions and turning my monologues into conversations.

Highlighting just a handful of you is a dangerous proposition (where to begin—and end?) but seeing as how today is the Twelfth Day of Christmas, I think I will raise my glass to 12 of the many of you who have been gifts to me in 2010. Included in this dozen are those who identify as Christians, Jews, atheists, and agnostics; those in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s; bloggers and those who could have blogs if they wanted to; people who are married and single, with children and without; and residents of both coasts and every region in between. They have contributed much to the conversation here in the past year—these excerpts just skim the surface. I hope you enjoy their voices as much as I do.

Please note: There are at least 50 of you I’d love to feature, so I’ve decided I must make this a regular post. Also, most of the comments below are not quoted in their entirety. To see the comments in context, follow the links to the original posts.

Meredith (Ordinary Mer)

That statement is exactly why I hope you continue to write posts like this and continue to try to counter the perception of the “ignorant, intolerant, homophobic” Christian. As a twenty-something who walked away from religion precisely because of people like that, I’m so glad there are people like you to help me see that there are progressive Christians and that those who yell the loudest almost never speak for the whole. (In response to Christianity could use some Goo Gone)

Ray Hollenbach (Students of Jesus)

Thanks for your post: it’s thought-provoking, and I think it points out one of the great failings of our 21st century North American culture. I’d like to suggest that within the Biblical view of life, listening and action cannot be separated, like soul and spirit: we haven’t really listened if we are not moved to action. In fact, James, the brother of Jesus, suggested that when we train ourselves to hear without doing we are, in fact, deceived. Seems to me there’s a whole lotta deception goin’ round. (In response to Listening beyond the conversation)

The Modern Gal (The Modern Gal)

I’ve become so frustrated with the general tone of our country’s discourse. It is SO negative, with people shouting their opinions but refusing to listen to others. I wish people were more concerned with building others up and acknowledging that we’re all different than making everyone think their opinion is the right one. (In response to What sort of residue are you leaving on others?)

Genevieve (The Alchemist)

I agree that being loved for who you are and what you bring to the table is a huge part of keeping youth at Church. But hear me out on this: speaking as an ex-Christian, a large part of it is just a coming of age, starting to think for yourself thing. You hit that point where you ask yourself, “Now, do I really believe these things I’ve been taught?” and many teens and young adults leave at that point because the answer is no. It isn’t always some offense the Church has committed, or the small-mindedness of the powers that be (though that’s often a factor). Sometimes it’s just a conscious, well-thought-out choice. (In response to What do we hope our kids will get out of church?)

Susan (Creative Guide to Life)

I like that. That healing doesn’t look like what we think it will. Emotional healing is usually a painful process yielding beautiful results. Much like physical pain. Often it’s shedding layers of crusty, preconceived notions that leaves us scarred, until we realize the scar is more like a cure. Maybe the scar/cure is realizing we’re going in a new direction in life, leaving behind destructive relationships, starting new. (In response to What does healing look like?)

Dan J

My goal is not to eradicate religion from the face of the planet (Okay.. maybe it is a little), but to show that in order for the people of the world to live in peace, we can’t use the strict religious interpretation of any particular group to be the stone tablet on which the rules are written. I hope I haven’t rambled too long, and I hope that even if we can’t see eye to eye, we can at least get along reasonably well. (In response to Christianity could use some Goo Gone)

Cheryl Ensom Dack (Living in a Beautiful Mess)

That was beautiful, Kristin. Made me teary. Something so tender and deeply true there. I think it’s the way your “good Samaritan” cut straight on through appearances/self-consciousness/expectations and even customary behavior to relate to you. That’s how children are, and it’s how I want to be more of the time than I am.

The “persona” that we as adults have learned to wear (the image we project of ourselves as we go about in our lives) might help us get jobs, cause people to respect us, help us get what we want (or think we want) and even win us “friends.” But at the end of the day, what children and your good Samaritan are best at—just being themselves—is what touches our hearts most deeply, what creates the most tender of connections and what truly makes us human. (In response to Monday’s unlikely Samaritan)

Jennifer (Hollyhouse Studio)

When did the church appoint itself judge and jury over people’s lives? People have NO IDEA what kind of pain others cover up in order to look good at church. … The church is meant to be a place of love, growth, teaching and fellowship. Not condemnation, judgment and hate. Clearly, there is still a need for your writing because we have not reached a place of extending grace to others. Can you tell you struck a nerve? This fires me up like nothing. … I am thankful that God loves you, in your humanity, and that you did not run so far that you couldn’t hear him calling you home. Well done friend. (In response to Is divorce something we need to confess?)

ed cyzewski (In a Mirror Dimly)

I feel like this post is a great example of resurrection in everyday life. Your insights about the non-existent dumpster are spot-on. There comes a point when our only options are suppression or healing. Perhaps we need suppression for a period of time, but in the long run, healing is what we need most of all. Thanks for sharing so personal a story. (In response to Dumpsters, an apology & a chance to start again)


I was surprised by the hole my grandmother left when she died two years ago. It wasn’t unexpected: she was 98, and while she didn’t have Alzheimer’s, she had been gently fading for a few years. Still, it hit me hard, in a slow-release kind of way. Grieving for my mother had been hard, too–but complicated, in all the ways that relationships between mothers and daughters can be complicated. Grieving for my grandmother was hard in its simplicity. I loved her, and she loved me: whatever I did, I always knew she was unconditionally (if not always uncritically) on my side. (In response to Talking to my kids about death)

Laura (chambanamoms)

You have hit the proverbial nail on the perception issue. Society tells us that we have to be segmented by our ages. Look at magazine covers – beauty/sex/love at 20! at 30! at 40! Because we are really so different. The fact that you are “more myself and more content with my life than I have ever been” means more than any number. (In response to Changing how we see 40)

Suzi (who sometimes goes by Sarah Louise)

As I begin to get back into writing, it is a struggle–how will I convey my faith in my writing, whether in front or between the lines or a little bit of both. It is good to have people with whom you can bounce these questions to and from and around. Thank you for being one of those people. (In response to Sanitizing church & state)

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  • The Modern Gal

    YOU have been such a gift for me! I was so blessed to discover your blog (I don’t even remember how I found it now!) I love the positive yet challenging voice you contribute to the blogosphere. It really inspires me to be more thought-provoking with my own writing.

    I should also mention yours is one of the only blogs where I take the time to read all the comments on posts — that’s a credit to all who participate in the conversation here!

  • Kirstin

    Aww, thanks Kristin! And what a beautiful new year’s gesture. Your blog brings together such a thoughtful and interesting group of people–the comments threads always make for good reading, as do the blog posts they’re responding to!

    Hope things are looking up as 2011 gets underway. You know that rule-of-thumb in theater that a bad dress rehearsal guarantees a good performance? Maybe the New Year’s weekend was the dress rehearsal for the year.

  • Jana CG

    What a great idea! Loved Ed’s comment and remembering your Dumpster post – that was a favorite of mine this past year.

  • Meredith

    Thank you so much for including me – I feel so honored! I love your writing and the topics, questions and ideas you pose. I always leave with plenty of food for thought and even when I don’t comment, I’m still thinking about how I might think about the things you ponder. You’ve inspired plenty of blog posts, I assure you! So thank YOU too!

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  • ed cyzewski

    This post sends you up a couple of notches in Christian blogging awesomeness. How the heck did you keep track of all of those comments? Amazing! I’m honored to be on this list and I really appreciate the fact that you value your readers enough to make a list like this. Just another reason for folks to read your blog: you listen. Have a blessed new year with many wonderful blog posts to come!

  • Matthew (@enterworship @beyondmany))

    “Be thankful for the least gift, so shalt thou be meant to receive greater.”
    Thomas a Kempis (1380 – 1471)

  • Genevieve

    Kristin, that is too, TOO generous. Thank you! Your posts always get my wheels turning–you have such an engaged and thought-provoking community here. And thank you for welcoming me despite our different viewpoints on organized religion. To be invited without judgment or the agenda to change me is something I almost never experience from the Christians I know. It must take exceptional strength, so thank you again!

    Here’s hoping we can chill in person in 2011 (and not just on The Twitter)!.


  • Cheryl Ensom Dack

    Thank you, Kristin, for a year full of honest, clever, compassionate, down-to-earth and beautiful blog posts. I’m honored to call you “friend” and looking forward to more of your gorgeous posts. And of course the numerous best-selling books you’ll be publishing any day now! ;) HUGS

  • Lorna

    It was great seeing so many of your blog participants in one place! I also agree with The Modern Gal, yours is one of the few blogs that I also look forward to, and come back to, to read the comments/discussions. Nice post KT!

  • Ray Hollenbach

    Happy New Year, Kristin! May God bless you and yours throughout the year. I’m honored to be included in your post and among so many nice people.

  • Susan

    Thank you for sharing this. Despite my brief disappearance from blogging during 2010, you were the first to really support me and believe in what I was doing; and were ready to support me again when I turned up again. I think of that often, and that I always feel a connection to what you’re writing about. Your thoughts are always deliberate and strong, yet still vulnerable and relatable. I love seeing what you’re writing about next! Thanks…

  • Dan J

    Thanks very much for allowing me to be a part of your blogging experience. :) It’s nice to feel welcome here.

  • Kristin T.

    The Modern Gal, “positive yet challenging” is a great compliment—a fine line I strive for that often feels so elusive. And I’m glad to hear people are reading all the comments. That’s where the ideas become real.

    Kirstin, thanks for all that you contribute to this “thoughtful and interesting” community. (And I like your dress rehearsal analogy. I’m going to run with it!)

    Jana, as I looked through old posts for comments to feature it felt a lot like flipping through a box of photos. A little stroll down Memory Lane! Thanks for joining me.

    Meredith, that’s the best thing about the blogging and social media realm—we’re all able to feed off of each other’s ideas and get pushed in new directions. I’m so glad you’re blogging and hope you keep at it!

    ed, I didn’t actually keep a list of comments—I only WISH I had kept a list! Instead I went through the archives, looking for posts with lots of comments or topics that stood out in my mind. It wasn’t the most efficient process, but it was time well spent as I reflected on what I’ve written in the past year and who has joined me for the journey.

    Matthew, what a good reminder about gratitude! Thanks for all of your encouragement this past year, both here and on Twitter.

    Genevieve, your viewpoint is so important to me, and you share it with humor, intelligence and respect. I wouldn’t *dream* of not welcoming you! Thanks for all you bring to the table (kind of a good pun to use in reference to a food blogger, eh?). I’d love to meet up for a drink some time, too.

  • Trina

    Late to the party, but not missing the sentiment. You are always so inclusive, and generous of thought, no wonder you have so many who embrace you. I love that you are choosing to do things your way. Happy New Year to you and all here.

  • Dave Thurston

    Was 42 the answer that the dolphin gave at the end of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to the answer of the universe?

    Although I’m still searching for that elusive answer, it is great to have your blog (and most definitely its comments) as a part of the steps to get there. The community you’ve created is a #thelovelist item of mine. Good to read your words – Thank you for putting them out there.

  • Kristin T.

    Cheryl, you’re so kind! I love the “honest, clever, compassionate, down-to-earth” combo. It’s a difficult thing to make happen, but a wonderful thing to strive toward, nonetheless. Thanks for keeping me thinking.

    Lorna, when I brought this group of readers together into one post, for a moment I was able to imagine what it would be like to host a dinner party for these 12 people. So many personalities and perspectives and stories all in one place–what a wonderful image!

    Ray, thanks for your consistent support and thought-provoking contributions.

    Susan, life often feels like a series of starts and stops, trial and error. Sometimes it seems like everything comes down to timing. Either way, I’m glad you sorted it out and re-entered the blogging world. You have so much to contribute!

    Dan J, I’m really glad you feel welcome here and comfortable enough to share your perspective. Looking forward to more of that in 2011!

  • Kristin T.

    Trina, many thanks for what you said and how you said it. I hope we can all make strides together at being even more inclusive and generous in 2011.

    Dave, yes, there are many answers we just might not ever quite grasp, but the searching is still important. I’m glad that so many of us who are committed to the journey can all help one another along.