what is the zipcode for heaven?

I am in a new bible study and we had homework last week.
And I love homework. As long as it isn’t the kind I am supposed to grade.
But this was a kind of weird assignment.
We were supposed to write a letter to God, describing essentially what we think our “good and beautiful life” (which also happens to be the name of the book) would look like for us.
And this stumped me for multiple reasons.
a) I’m pretty sure God doesn’t have a PO box.
b) It felt something like writing a letter to Santa, a bucket list and a bunch of new year’s resolutions all in one.
c) There was the possibility of having to read it loud. And I am somehow ok with hitting publish on blogger for potentially hundreds to read (ok, a few dozen). but reading outloud to a handful of people that are actually in the same room with me, makes me want to break out into hives.
d) Until rather recently writing (and blogging) used to come easy to me. I could spit one posts almost daily without breaking a sweat. But lately, I can’t even get out one a week. And it isn’t that I’m suddenly busier. I am busy. I was before too. The simple and honest answer is that I’m just not writing anything. And it isn’t the writing I’m struggling with so much as it is the naked. And it turns out I can’t really write without being naked. (don’t worry. I am speaking 100% figuratively. I am fully dressed in pj pants and a sweatshirt while I type this). This girl is sorting through some vulnerability issues.
But I wrote it anyways. Dear Santa, bucket list and new years resolutions and all.
And. I read good size chunks of it outloud. And I didn’t get hives.
So I figured I should get double duty out of it and post some of it here. Fully dressed.

It would be easy to say that I’d like a life of ease. That is the “good life” right? Money. Travel. And a housekeeper. A life where my kids don’t get skinned knees or the flu, my papers are always graded, I only hit green lights and I never leave my fly down (which may or may not have been how I taught the better part of my morning yesterday). And beautiful, sure – I’d like veneers on my teeth, the mole on my face removed, a better haircut and new highlights and to trim down a few sizes. That would be a start. An upgraded wardrobe and pedicure couldn’t hurt either. And maybe I mean all that a little. Who wouldn’t? But something tells me that I’d be bored. A good life is lived. Foughten for. Broken and Renewed. Taken plenty of chances. Knows grace. Sometimes has done without. In other words, a good life is probably occasionally a hard one.

Mostly I think I’d like to love extravagantly. Recklessly. And I’m even a little surprised to catch myself saying that because I know all too well. Over and over, how much that can hurt. Because loving like that isn’t safe. It doesn’t hold back. It isn’t always returned. And it means occasionally being crushed. I want to love anyways. Again and again. When it is easy and when it is hard. Because He does.

And for my kids. Any mom can tell you they want the best for their kids. But. I’m not sure I’d say that. And I catch myself wanting to buy them nice things, but I’d also hope that they sometimes wear hand me downs. Or drive a used car. That instead of being the coolest kid in class that maybe they instead are the one who stands up for the kid who no one else wants to sit next to. I want them to fall down occasionally. To lose. To fail. To get their heart broken. And those things almost feel mean to write, but instead of having kids who get what they want and never get hurt, I’d rather have ones that know how to get back up. How to try again. How to do better next time. How to adapt and change and recover. I want kids who know how to study and to sweat and to save and to serve and to say they are sorry. But most importantly, to never doubt that they are loved. By me and their God.

And the book we are reading, says that everyone wants to be happy. And I can’t really argue with that. But what I mostly want is joy in the times that I am not. Because there are plenty of those. To have a faith so strong that something good within me can’t be shaken. And I want to matter. Not so much that I want to be important, but I want to matter by doing important things for other people. Even if they aren’t the kind so things other people consider important. Noticing them. Feeding them. Looking them in the eye. Asking their name. Whether it is my student. Or the checkout lady at Target or the homeless woman on the corner asking for gas money.

I really like my couch. And have hours of Tivo saved and shelves and shelves of books. But I’m thinking I should spend less time on my couch, and more time playing outside with my kids. Cleaning out my garage. Running a marathon. Helping someone move. Hiking up a mountain with my husband. I think a good life is likely a sweaty one.

When I’m 80, and look back. I hope my husband is still by my side. Holding my hand listening to the same old stories and jokes and rubbing my feet. That my passport has lots of stamps on it. That I’ve seen and served in all kinds of places. I hope I’ve tried all kinds of weird things and made friends with all kinds of unusual characters. I hope I’ve become one of those unusual characters myself. I hope my kids have grown and are pursuing their own adventures and that they always knew I loved them the best. I hope I’ve laughed more than I’ve cried. Given away far more than I’ve saved and that I let very little be wasted.

Specifically, I hope I’ve taken the leap and published something. That I’ve reigned in my mouth and learned when to stop drinking and talking. That I stop letting fear win. To make wiser choices with my words, my money and that I can remember where I put my car keys. I want to stop wrestling with the same sins. To have more of those hard conversations. To listen without interrupting. To pray without falling asleep. To love without expectation. That one day my car won’t look like a fast food trash can. To be better at standing up for myself and to keep standing up for people I love.

So basically, I want the life I already have. But without me always getting in the way.


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