All My 42-Year Old Answers

Image may contain: Leanne Friesen, smiling, eyeglasses, outdoor and closeup

This week I had my last day as a 42 year old. If you have ever read the famous “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” you may remember (spoiler alert) that the book concludes that the answer to “life, the universe and everything” is: 42. As the calendar turned on my 42nd birthday would I now have ALL THE ANSWERS? 

No. 

However, there are many questions to which I do have answers out of my 42nd year, and I will share my 42 year old answers with you now. 

What is the best tea flavour? This year I discovered that the best tea flavour is unequivocally “Cream of Earl Grey,” by David’s Tea. You’re welcome. 

Does the Friesen Family need two cars? No. When the pandemic hit this year, we took one of our cars off the road. Turns out we didn’t need it much after all. It’s still in our driveway. 

What books should I read? This year I read exactly 100 books. I have many opinions about this question, which I will answer in several categories at the end of this post, as it may take a while.

These book recommendations are based on things I read this year. I could add many more. If you like apocalyptic literature, I highly recommend The Book of Koli. If you are looking for books that explore themes of feminism and the experience of being a woman, you should read: Girl, Woman, OtherSmall Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club (this book has many other themes, but I loved it in this category), or “Call Me By My Name.” If you want to read novels or memoirs written from the perspective of people who are black, indigenous or people of colour, I enjoyed The Night Watchmen, Born a Crime (Trevor Noah), The Nickel Boys or The Burning. If you want to read some classics that will make you say “WHY DIDN’T I READ THIS SOONER??? Read The Good Earth, Cry the Beloved Country or A Fine Balance. These books deserve all the praise they have long received. For pastors (or anybody!), I recommend an unconventional choice: Living a Life Worth Living, by Marsha Linehan, who founded dialectical behavioural therapy. Not only will you learn a lot about ways to support people in crisis, you will also be inspired by this amazing and unexpected faith story. And I know I’m a year late to the party, but Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved is an amazing book and I think everyone should read my friend Kevin Makins’ awesome book Why Would Anyone Go to Church?

Leanne, how will you finally get healthier? Don’t eat 10 X more calories than you burn. Exercise – but if you go for a walk or exercise ten minutes it doesn’t mean you burned 1000 calories and can now eat unending junk food. (I would like to give the app “Noom” a shoutout for giving me body life lessons that truly changed my life in my 42nd year). 

Related: Can you walk if it is raining? Yes, Leanne, you can still walk and go outside if the weather is not great. You’ll be fine.

Should you buy glasses without anti-glare? No, you should not do this. You will save money, but if there is a worldwide pandemic, and you need to be recorded on video several times every week for months, you will rue the day you said “no” to anti-glare glasses. 

Should you throw in the towel when people don’t get an idea you are working on? No. So an entire year before covid struck and every church in the world had to go online, we had started an online worship time. This was not always seen as a good thing. In fact, for all of 2019, it felt like every time I shared this with ministry leaders outside our church I would get pushback. They would say things like “Well I don’t think that really counts as church” or “I think you have to reconsider your ecclesiology.” These points were fair; I took time to consider them. But also I really sensed God was leading us this way and so did the people most closely involved with the project. We didn’t see it as replacing church. We saw it as a way to help people stay connected when they could not attend in person. We saw it as a connection point for people who didn’t feel ready to enter a church building. With just a few minutes to process my “online church” stories, lots of ministry colleagues couldn’t see that. And that’s okay. It wasn’t on them to make sense of something I had thought about a long time. I had to let go of letting other people’s approval determine if this vision was the right one. One thing I will most remember in my 42nd year is the first service we did online after shut down. Everything to which we had felt called for a year made sense. And everything I visioned our online services being came to fruition over this year. I was glad we hadn’t given up.

(Next question: Should you post self righteous comments when you see people now singing the praises of online services and the opportunities they provide and saying they’re going to keep doing them after lockdown? No. There is really no need for this).

How do you create a costume for a theme meals if needed during a time of lockdown? Google a picture of what you are looking for. Then go to your closet and stick things together that make something that looks close-ish to the picture. Don’t be afraid to use ridiculous things, such as making necklaces from post-it notes or turning old robes inside out to create a black cape. Costumes come from anywhere! 

What is a good way to keep your church connected during a lockdown? Deliveries. One of the best responses we’ve had from our congregation this year came when we did small drop offs at people’s homes. We did not do elaborate things, but simple things people could use in our service, and people still say “I loved those deliveries! It made me feel so connected!” 

Should you buy the cheap hair dye? No. No, you should not.

What is the best way to shape your life? Start each day with prayer. This was a goal I set for my 42nd year. It was the best one.

What is the meaning of life? It’s not 42. And that’s totally okay.

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