Brevity, Part 2 – Epiphany All Skate


light-bulb-blues.jpgA few weeks back I wrote a piece on the discipline of brevity, and it was a ton of fun to hear your responses.  So today I’m sitting here tucked away in the corner of a coffee shop with free wi-fi, thinking about 2008, and wanted to bring an exercise to the Rabbit Room table.  What would it be like if we joined the discipline of brevity with the art of confession.  This post is an all-skate.  In other words, we’re going to write this one together. 

Here’s the assignment.  In two inches of text or less, tell us about something you have learned over the course of the past year.  If you can, try and stay in that 12 month time frame.  It can be something you learned in an instant or over the span of months.  It can be funny, scientific, theological, relational, tragic–whatever.  It can even by something you “unlearned”–something you thought you were certain of until 2008.

I’d especially like to hear from all the Rabbit Room Contributors and also from first time posters.  I know you’re out there.  Come on in and pull up a chair.  The fire’s roaring, the beverages are flowing and the table is set.  What’s on your mind?

Oh, one more thing.  For the sake of the purpose of this particular post, let’s limit our comments to 2008 Epiphanies only, and just hear from each other.  I’ll post mine as a comment below too.

Russ Ramsey is the pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church Cool Springs in Nashville, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife and four children. He grew up in the fields of Indiana and studied at Taylor University and Covenant Theological Seminary (MDiv, ThM). Russ is the author of the Retelling the Story Series (IVP, 2018) and Struck: One Christian’s Reflections on Encountering Death (IVP, 2017).


  1. Pete Peterson


    I learned that pesto is really just short for “Glorious Green Paste of Goodness for Sandwiches Great and Small”. I guess ‘pesto’ is easier to fit on menus.

    I learned that all those snooty Apple people were right all along.

    I learned that Ben Shive can make a mind-blowing record.

    And I learned that renting a motorcycle trailer from U-haul is so expensive that it’s cheaper to buy a used one, have it break down halfway to your location, pay a mechanic to 1)try to fix it and 2)haul it to the dump when he tells you he can’t, then leave your motorcycle there, drive 300 miles to your destination, come back with another vehicle at $3.50 a gallon and retrieve the bike. Yep, all that was still cheaper than renting one.

  2. Gretchen Emily

    Through a sequence of events I finally realized and understood that death is just another door, and that all believers are already eternal beings. I’ve also been converted to the Atonement-Ransom Theory.

    I discovered that I can get an amazing amount of work done when I’m in a stable setting and have a completely open day before me. But that rarely happens.

    And for closers I learned that Apple Jack cereal is really bad – nothing but cardboard and sugar… and my conviction of the wonder of chocolate soymilk was reinstated.

  3. Camille Wolaver

    I learned that the root of fulfillment is pin-pointing a problem, accepting that problem, facing that problem, and working heartily till that problem is fixed.

    Loving-kindness always prevails.

    Faerie is deeper than fairy-tales.

    True joy comes from every minute of every day being put to good purpose, and then enjoying the fruit of it.

    Happiness is a choice, not a condition.

    And last, but not least, a good meal when one is hungry is a marvelous thing. Even more marvelous is a good meal, picked from one’s own garden under a windy sky, prepared with one’s own hands, and eaten around a beautifully set table with one’s family is a true blessing…and even has a hint of the sacramental.

  4. Joanna

    Hello… I’m new!

    In 2008…
    ~I have learned that being thousands of miles away from everyone I love is harder than I thought it would be.
    ~I have learned that it is possible to love incredibly difficult emotionally disturbed teenage boys… and that when you do, they inevitably let you down and hurt you.
    ~I have learned that I am bold and independent and sometimes even brazen– some might say fearless, but that’s just ’cause they can’t see inside my head/heart.
    ~I have learned that going to more than 6 weddings in a single summer is too many, especially when you are date-less! (Bad for the self-esteem)
    ~I have learned that graduate school is unfortunately a lot like undergrad. And that senioritis can linger on past the end of senior year.
    ~I have learned my way around New York City, and come to see myself as something of a local… oh yes, and I have developed a healthy bit of Brooklyn snobbery… Manhattan is clearly over-rated.
    ~I have just learned that I have no concept of how much text two inches is…

  5. Jud

    This year I discovered that to take my faith more seriously meant I needed to start taking it a bit less seriously. I also discovered the virtues of dark beer.

    I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine if those two epiphanies were related.

  6. m a t t

    Thanks for the challenge, Russ. I’m a first-timer.

    This year I learned that poverty isn’t just a vaguely negative abstraction. I made friends with people who are kept poor and oppressed for their religion. And through that experience in Egypt, God called me to open my eyes to the needs of our own cities in America, to injustices that my privileged, suburban, well-educated, wealthy, white male mind could never have imagined.

    I’ve learned that Detroit is the worst city in America in more statistical categories than I can comprehend. I’ve tasted its hopelessness, and if God allows it I’ll be moving into the ghetto there.

  7. Russ Ramsey


    Here’s mine. I learned that we, as human beings, have an enormous ability to wound one another and an enourmous capaticty to absorb that hurt. And the Gospel can deal with all comers there.

    Also, the discipline of brevity makes me labor on the front end to say what I really mean, but it’s hard work. And I’m learning our words count.

    Last, when Jesus said, “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and to take it up again,” the entire New Testament narrative about the details of His death and resurrection verify the truth of His claim emphatically.

  8. becky

    I’ve learned:
    1. that the economic downturn is not going to just effect others; that I can be part of the statistics.
    2. that I have a really wonderful network of friends and family who love and support me during difficult days.
    3. that Psalm 119:50 (“Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.”) and Zephaniah 3:17 (“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”) are true.

  9. kim

    I continued to learn that more often than not, I’m what gets in the way of my own success. And that I can’t fix myself. I also learned that the most important work I have to do in my day isn’t what I do in a cubicle.

    I also learned that I like mushrooms, despite all the reasons not to.

  10. Brian

    I’ve learned that to attempt to “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” – Eph 5:15-16 NIV – is extremely difficult and takes effort throughout the day.

  11. Beth

    Hello – I’m new as well!

    I have learned/am learning:

    1) that it can be a good thing to stretch myself beyond my comfort zone, especially when that means setting myself up for a possible failure,
    2) to be content in my circumstances,
    3) the truth of Habakkuk 3:17-19 – “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”

  12. Neil

    I learned from Pete’s post that new verses continue to be written for the song “It should’ve been easy but this is you.” Oh wait that was just now in 2009.

    I learned that contributor Matt Conner isn’t very good at Fantasy Baseball.

    And I learned that being a parent, no matter your child’s age, brings new and real perspective (and lessons) to many of the greatest stories and parables ever told.

  13. PaulH

    I have leaned that complaining, murmuring,and a bad attitude are not a part of God’s plan for my life.On the flip side of that, I have begun to learn humility, contentment and the training of a sanctified mind

  14. Matt J.

    In 2008…

    I learned there exists enjoyable contemporary poetry in the world (Billy Collins.)

    After much trial and error, I have come to the conclusion that amber ale is the only kind of beer worth drinking. Even the mystique of Guinness cannot overcome it’s stout bitterness.

    My suspicions were confirmed that I have so many light-years to go in being a loving husband and father, I could easily spend the rest of my years on that and never even get around to being a good neighbor.

  15. Micah

    I learned that true love will always carry you beyond yourself.

    I learned that music is a munipulator.

    I learned that focusing on repentence for your sins is not the same as focusing on God.

    I learned that the double harmonic scale is a lot of fun to play on a bowed psaltery.

  16. Russ Ramsey


    Also, occasionally onions actually serve a positive purpose and can in fact be the one ingredient that can take certain foods from being okay to being great. Never would have thought I’d ever say that. Well done, onions. Well done. Thanks for not giving up on me.

  17. Darcyjo

    I have learned that it is not only OKAY to lean on your friends, it’s mandatory. I have found that I can live through a good deal of pain, more than I thought. I have also learned that I’m overly sensitive to nitrous oxide. Yep, all three related.

    Best of all? I am loved, I am loved, I am LOVED!

  18. Dave D

    First post from the cheif of lurkers…

    I have learned that Jesus always wins. Actually He already won. And that victory does not depend on my faithfulness or faithlessness.

    I have learned that people fear miracles because they fear being changed – though ignoring them will change you also (Thanks, Leif)

    I have learned that there is a brutal finality to life. What we have done (or not done), we can never change. I have irrepairably hurt others and myself. That is the truth. But what is truer than that is the blood of Jesus and the grace of God. And that is where my hope is.

  19. whipple

    In the interest of brevity, I feel like I’ve created a disjunct booklet of fortune-cookie contents. Amongst the knowledge of the past year are these items:

    I have no white-collar ambition. I can learn the elusive skills of bicycle maintenance and gardening. Art is for beauty, honesty, and community. Love can be given through good business ethics. Church begins at home. The smallest blessing bestowed surpasses a year’s hard work. Forthrightness is redemption’s first step. Redemption and abandonment are mutually exclusive.

  20. Ron Block



    Unbelief in one’s God given ability brings fear, which brings a desire to control. The desire to control breeds effort – striving – trying, and that kind of self-effort brings tension. The plowing up of old unbelief patterns, and the sowing of faith, is producing a harvest in my hands and voice. With unbelief gone, fear goes, desire to control dies, and the idea “This is easy!” is born. Then all that remains is to get rid of the physical habits of tension in the hands or voice.

    This same principle works in any area – relationships, other work, hobbies, etc. Work from rest and sufficiency and not from unbelief, fear, control, and tension.

    Russ – I was brief! Throw me a fish!

  21. Russ Ramsey


    A couple more from 2008. Ron Block is a riddle wrapped up in a mystery. And if you’re lucky, he’ll pay for your lunch. His unexpected friendship became a real joy to me.

    Randall Goodgame is one of the finest pure songwriters I have ever heard, and all anyone needs to hear to know what I mean are the first three tracks on “War and Peace” (his “Peanuts” trilogy). Brilliant.

  22. Aaron Roughton

    –I have learned that you can guarantee “success” in any situation by simply manipulating the expectations of others as to what “success” is. And that this can lead to a very joyless, boring, and frustrating, albeit highly successful life.
    –I learned that my wife is a far better athlete than I am.
    –I learned that politics can become tiresome.
    –I learned that if you are not intentional about your faith, the devil is intentional about the opposite.
    –I learned that the definition of 2 inches of text is governed as much by font and screen resolution as it is by number of words.

  23. S.D. Smith

    Dave D. Right on.

    I’ve learned that when you are 31 years old, you hurt your back in a pretty bad way, and you do not own a crutch, a five-iron will do in a pinch.

    I’ve learned that there are few joys that surpass seeing your little children learn to love God. My son (3) looking up at me and saying “Daddy, I want a humble heart,” was a high-point.

    Hurting your back so you can barely walk is an opportunity to have a humble heart.

    The Gospel is glorious. I have nothing to offer. I was a sinner, a rebel. I deserve the full wrath of God. Jesus, God the Son, became my substitute, becoming a curse for me. It is not that I accept Jesus, it is that Jesus work on my behalf was acceptable to God. Salvation belongs to our God. Glory to Yahweh.

  24. kevin

    I learned that there is almost nothing that can be adequately answered or discussed in just a few sentences, at least by me. I can’t speak for anyone else.

  25. Stephen Lamb


    I’ve learned how hard it is to try to explain my spiritual journey to others, especially if they are still in the same place I was five or ten years ago.

  26. Roger Wagner

    I learned that Robert E. Lee was right:

    “The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.”

  27. Hannah

    I have learned that charity is often blunt and bold. I used to act as though it was quiet and passive. I’ve found that it takes a lot of courage to love someone and that it requires more confrontation than I ever realized before, but that confrontation requires more care than I knew. I think it was Robert Louis Stevenson who said, “We do not go to cowards for tender dealing.”

  28. The One True Stickman

    2008 taught me:

    = Love hurts, and that’s a good thing. Relationships are a crucible that burns chaff. (Which is more of me than I’d like to admit.)
    = When I grow up I need a house with a workshop. My apartment doesn’t have enough messy space.

    (Side note: If you want to learn brevity & clarity, take a technical writing course.)

  29. Austin

    I learned that partial obedience to God will only be given grace for a season; then comes judgement.

    I learned that I’ll never be able to keep up with all that I want to; the world changes too fast.

    I learned that good men can still fall and fail, and how to get past that, and go on believing.

    I learned that I’d rather be back in Texas… but here I am instead.

    I learned that I have so much more to learn.

  30. j9

    This is a little late, but I was thinking about ’08 as well, and also had to look up the work brevity, to respond. So as in the definition (2) I will keep it short.
    #1. JOY (Not learned, it’s just there):I have no children of my own, but the joy of knowing dear friends are expecting has given me great joy that seems to burst out of me every so often. ( i really can’t figure it out!)
    #2. RECONCILIATION (of myself to myself) The struggle and the battle to beat myself up for past mistakes, sin, and even acceptance of what has happened ‘to me.’ is continued to be conquered. What a relief.

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