There are many things I wish I would have done or should have done over the past year that would have enhanced my life and the lives around me. However, I cannot go back in time and change those events. I can look back on those events and learn something from them. So for the remaining days of this year – and in anticipation of the new year – I am going to answer a question of reflection on the past year. Hopefully, I learned something about myself and grew. Either way, I am a little nervous opening up my vulnerabilities here, but here goes…
The first question is: What is one new thing you tried this year?
To answer this question, I have to really dig. It has been a busy and strange kind of year with being a transitional period of a pandemic morphing into a new sense of “normalcy”, if one could call it that. I would liken this year as “taking stock after a tornado.” I am from the Midwest, and tornadoes are more common. So when I think of a catastrophe or chaotic event, I think of a tornado. The pandemic was one huge devastating “tornado”, and while it is still going on, the intensity has lessened enough that we can see some of the damage it has caused. Looking around, I see lives changed, rearranged, or even erased. There have been some intensely tragic occurrences that wrecked people. There have also been major advances and break-through’s in this time. So to say I have to dig to think of something that I have learned this year holds with it the preface that my focus has been redirected to performing tasks that I know.
As a nurse, I have been a part of many “Code Blue”‘s. A Code Blue is when a patient has no heartbeat and/or is not breathing. It means “anyone capable of assisting to possibly safe this life, get your butt’s in here!” It means knowing what to do and how to do it as fast and efficient as you can to help keep someone from dying. It is important to know this stuff before the emergent situation occurs. You don’t want someone just running around crying, “what do I do? what do I do?,” and getting in the way of the others attempting to resuscitate your family member. In an emergent situation, you gotta know your stuff and be on your game. It almost has to be instinct. And in order for something to be almost instinct, you have to study it and practice it over and over again.
That is what this past year has been about – studying and practicing. But it wasn’t “Code Blue”‘s that I was working on. It was prayer and relationship. The way I interact with people and the way I interact with God in a way that is meaningful and respectful, that was what I was practicing. Looking at others with compassion and a sense of importance. Asking God to show me where I can be of assistance. And being a walking example for my sons. Above all, I want to interact with God humbly and reverently. I want to know Him more and more.
So over the past year, I have adopted a routine that is more conducive to reaching my goals of increased efficacy of prayer life, increased knowledge of His character and track record, and a more empathetic and compassionate exchange between me and others that gives Him glory. Every morning, I wake up with a sense of gratitude for all that He has given me and allowed me to be a part of. After a short devotion with my husband and kids, they go to work and school respectively, and I get to work in prayer, reading the Bible, and then speaking with other in the form of encouraging words over the phone or in text/e-mail.
I have come to know some pretty incredible people over the past year, and they have taught me valuable lessons without formally teaching me. By their lives, I was able to observe how to interact with people in a more sincere and selfless way. I am not saying that I roboticly say things that will make people feel good. What I am saying is that I am allowing myself to be vulnerable and say what I really think and feel without feeling a sense of shame. I am a people pleaser to the core. I have this inner monologue telling me, “You’re not good enough,” and it replays that message over and over again. No matter how hard I try to not listen to it, it still shapes my walk and talk. It has taken a lot of work to get to this point, but I was ill equipped. I hadn’t unlocked the knowledge I needed yet to be efficient and successful in maturing in certain areas of my life. I felt like I had to morph into a mold that I thought people wanted me to be so that I could finally be called “good enough.”
What I realized over this past year is that I am more than “good enough”. I am “fearfully and wonderfully made (check out Psalm 139).” He made me the way that I am for a reason. I am inherently sinful, but by the grace and mercy of God, I am cleansed and being assisted in ridding myself of the residue that is sin. Day by day, He is taking off more plaque, and He is teaching me ways of being clean.
Well that cup of coffee didn’t last as long as I thought it would. The point is, the new thing that I learned was dedication to a routine and set appointment time with God. Prioritization of time with God and being myself in all areas of my life regardless of what others may or may not think of me. We are walking this earth together not to tear down anyone or to lift up anyone. We are to live in community with each helping one another with whatever talents we were given. And in order to be effective, I have to hone those skills.
Gotta go fill up my cup…..