May 5, 2016

Sharing Day, or What I've Learned This Last Year

I am a part of a wonderful Bible study that meets during the school year.   This week was Sharing Day, a time when we can reflect and share.  Despite missing this day, I still found that the reflection is a powerful thing and is important for me in making change and evaluating where I'm at and where I'm going.
 Last year we studied the books of Daniel and Revelation while moving on to Matthew for this year.
Daniel and Revelation were so powerful, and I learned how important and vital prayer is.

You see, last year was a hard one for me.  I was in a state of transition and uncertainty in many areas of my life.
I've posted before about my youngest who I had when I was a bit later in life.  When he turned 3 last year, he had no words.  No 'Mama', no 'yes', or 'no'.  Nothing.
He could verbalize sounds and comprehend complex instructions, but there was a block with language.
I also was working more and more at a stressful job with hours that were physically taxing and often unsure.  I had spent 25 years working in ICU as a RN, but I was wondering if it wasn't time for a change.

I am not one to share overly personal things, I want to share this: reading Daniel and Revelation seemed to make it plain that prayer is important.  Knowing that the God I believe in wants to know me and hear me, and that He has put others in my life to support and love me, is an amazing thing.
I also find it an honor that I can support others by praying for them.
These two books show how vital and important the power of prayer and a regular prayer life is.

Knowing that I had others praying for me and had the ear of God was powerful.  It made making changes smooth and helped with accepting delays and situations for what they were** while helping me to find peace.

This year was the study of Matthew.  Initially, I thought this wasn't one of the 'cool' books.  It's just a history, and while I do enjoy history and the Gospel, I wondered what would I really get from it.

Reading Matthew initially left me feeling bitter.  I felt that my life had little in common with Jesus' or anyone from that time.  Here they were just fishing and praying (obviously, they were up to a bit more), but I was having to be a wife, homeschooling mother, with a house and a part-time job.  I was always on the go and over-extended.  What was there really to relate to?

Then I had to check myself.
When I can start saying my life is tougher than the Son of God, there is an issue.
I had to ask myself some hard questions about who I was and where my life was going.
Why was I so busy?  Is the life I'm making well-organized?  Am I wasting time?  Does it always have to be about me and how I'm feeling?
Am I really doing what I'm meant to be doing?

This was the point that really got to me.  Was I really living the life I should be?  Wasn't I the one who did the over-scheduling.  After all, I wasn't being forced into activities; they were all my choice.
Yes, we need to eat and we need to do school, but often the details are left to me, and I saw that I might not have my priorities in order.
But then, the book of Matthew was also one of overwhelming love.   I saw myself going through the motions of 'work' and 'busyness' everyday.  I could see the joy in them, but I wondered if there was an undercurrent of love in my actions and wasn't necessarily acting joyfully.

Sometimes I feel like I should be doing the 'big' things in life, and when I find that they aren't really a part of my life, I take it as an excuse to just do nothing.
I allow being tired or mentally stressed to control what I am actually doing.  They provide an excuse for sitting and spending time on the computer or just wasting time.

Matthew convicted me.  The book taught me that we each have our own goal.  I'm not supposed to fulfill your mission, and mine is really all mine.

And often, we know what our roles are, or at least I knew what mine was.  Sometimes it is as simple as looking around your own home at the people who are there.  It is about looking at what you have been gifted with in life.

I love to garden.  I can put a seed in the ground and allow it grow on its own and fight its way up and find its own way, or I can cultivate it and guide it.  I can remove the weeds from its path and help it to start strong in life.

I had to question if I was doing this in my own family.  Was I cultivating my children, because even teens and tweens need guidance and time?

I realized what my real goal was in life.  I realized that I needed to be committed to the family and job I have been given.
I'm not talking about becoming a slave to the whims of my family, but I needed to learn to tune in to them more consciously and directly.
My kids didn't deserve answers and conversation from behind a computer screen.  They didn't need to be told to 'hang on' while I talk to others, or 'help' others on facebook.

I left much of social media and turned off the electronics in my house and reconnected with what was real.
I worked on becoming more organized (the book 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam is a great read) and more focused.

I realized that time is short.  Some things are put in our lives for just a season.  I personally need to make sure I connect with the people who are with me now.
I need to play more with a toddler, discuss life with my older kids, and have adult conversation and time with my husband. I need to show kindness and love to those I meet at work and make sure they feel valued.

So while the study of Daniel and Revelation challenged me in my understanding of prayer, Matthew really showed me what love looks like in action.  It challenged me to not compare my own journey to others, but to look to God for what my mission should be.
So thank you God for showing me and guiding me towards where you want me.  Thank you for providing Godly women and friends to encourage and convict me.

**Following an evaluation with a wonderful Speech Pathologist in Nashville, my youngest was diagnosed as a Late Talker with OCD issues.  He started speaking at 3 years, 3 months and has progressed to being almost on target for his age.


Fawn H, California said...

Excellent article! Loved it & it spoke to my heart. Thank you for sharing. I too am in a school-year-long Bible study (Revelation, this year for us) & tomorrow is our "share day". I always struggle with that searching question, what did I get out of 9 months of study. Your article gives me much food for thought, questions once again how I prioritize things in my life & shows me that we all struggle with the same issues-being too busy, wasting time (ugh!), organization, doing things with an undercurrent of love, etc. Re. the "big things" in life, who gets to say what those are? It sounds like you are doing one of the biggest things in life, raising godly children, nurturing & caring for them and you are right, your mission is yours alone. Re. "cool books" in the Bible, they are all totally cool. I've been in my Bible study program for several years & we go back & forth between an Old Testament & a New Testament study each year. What I have found is that the whole Bible is like a well oiled machine with gears that perfectly mesh & rely on each other, telling the story of our beloved Savior. It's overwhelmingly amazing how the New & the Old are in such beautiful harmony. I started out in the books of the Minor Prophets and thought "oh, brother, this is going to be so dry", but boy was I wrong! Each book is totally cool. Amen. ;)

Andrea said...

Missed you at Sharing Day, but I loved being able to read your thoughts on Matthew! Beautifully said!