**Today I’m linking up with Emily Freeman’s post called “Let’s Share What We Learned this Fall.” Be sure click the linkup to find some other great posts on this topic too.**
Here is a list of seven things I learned over the fall:
- INTENTIONAL TIME FOR REGULAR REFLECTION IS HEALTHY – Around the end of August I revived a spiritual practice I had previously used called The Prayer of Examen. In an earlier blog post I shared this, “…basically you can just look over the last 24 hours and ask yourself the following questions (at least these were the ones I found which resonated with me): “What has brought you joy? What has drained you?” And then thank God for being with you through it all – both the good and the bad.” This time around I also added writing down three things I’m thankful for each day. Now, at the end of November, I am still going strong with it! I can tell doing this regularly has made me a happier, more grateful person.
- BEING OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE IS HARD – Over the last few years, all the big items in my life (my job, my friend group, my living situation, my church family) have been pretty set and secure. There hadn’t been much of a need for me to be challenged and stretched. However, with the new UW Editing Certificate Program I started the beginning of October, I quickly became out of my comfort zone. I now had a new commute to navigate, a new campus to explore and new classmates to meet, etc. Old issues came up I hadn’t experienced in a while such as feeling “not good enough,” being overwhelmed by change and losing my sense of confidence and friendliness towards others. At first, this unwelcome transformation threw me for a loop. Then I remembered I tend to react this way in most new situations – I just hadn’t experienced one for a while! While I’m not exactly sure I like how I handle change, knowing this about myself is half the battle I suppose.
- ROUTINES PROVIDE A NECESSARY BUFFER AGAINST CHANGE – Along these same lines, this fall I recognized if I am experiencing change in certain areas of life then I need to have routines set up in other areas. This may mean guarding those already in place or adding new ones if necessary. Right now this looks like adding some structure to my daily devos. I feel I have been hit and miss there lately – trying out new options while putting aside old ones. However, I have realized this creates big spaces of time when I have no structure in place and yet I am much more motivated having a system in place to guide me along. Not having regular time spent with God isn’t really an option so figuring this out has become a top priority for me.
- HAVING A TRUE DIALOGUE TAKES WORK – The recent election season and ensuing results brought this truth to the forefront for me. Sometimes with (or maybe especially with) people closest to me, I’ve found I get defensive and argumentative when my views are challenged. I don’t want to be this way! It is important for me to create space where I can dialogue with others instead of simply arguing with them. One of my favorite lines from a recent blog post I read was this: “And here’s what we need to know: He hasn’t asked us to be right all the time. He has called us to love. This is the harder, braver choice.” This has become a new mantra for me in my interactions with others: I don’t have to be right, I simply need to love. (Much easier said than done, however!)
- IT’S ONLY BY GOD’S GRACE… – I’ve had a good example of this statement in my life recently with my roommate’s engagement. While there were the initial thoughts such as, “Here I go again – marrying off another roommate,” I have actually been able to be genuinely happy and excited for her. I know this isn’t necessarily my normal reaction but instead is what I feel is an instance of God’s grace in my life. I’ve seen God come through over and over again in regards to being content with my own singleness by helping me think and feel and act in ways I know could only come from Him. The way God takes care of me here makes me very grateful for His grace in my life overall.
- TRUST GETS EASIER WITH TIME – With my roommate getting married, this means I will be needing to look for another roommate soon. While this concern is always there in the back of my mind, it isn’t necessarily something I’m too worried about. I think this is because I’ve always seen God come through in this area in the past and so I am confident He will work it out this time as well. That’s not to say things haven’t always happened how I wanted at the time, but in hindsight I can always see God’s hand over my living situation. I am reminded of the line from an old hymn, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come.” This concept is taken from 1 Samuel 7:12 where prophet Samuel put up a stone memorial named “Ebenezer” or “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” Similar markers of faithfulness from my past have helped me to trust God for my future as well (read a related post).
- PROCESSING IN A DIFFERENT WAY CAN BE BENEFICIAL – Although I usually prefer to internally process or write down my thoughts, I’ve learned sometimes I can be a verbal processor too – who knew? A few conversations with others lately have helped enlighten me as to what I am truly feeling or thinking about certain issues. Simply verbalizing my thoughts brought them more out into the open. I don’t think I have ever had this happen quite so clearly before and therefore this has helped me recognize the benefits to changing up how I process my thoughts from time to time. So, anyone up for a chat?!