It’s October, the start to the last quarter of the year. I usually don’t wear my year-end reflection uniform (I made that up) until Dec or even January! Because I’m usually “too busy”, which is just another egoistic way to describe misaligned priorities.
This year, I’m half a year jobless (though I would seriously call my writing for HopeMail a job that doesn’t pay my bills), so I’m less swept by pressing schedules and have a head start to get my reflective mode on till the end of the year.
I’d like to pause here and invite you to join me in using this reflective moment of the year to ask ourselves this question: how did we live our days this year?
If we could name a theme to our year, what would it be? If our immediate response would be the word “busy”—can that be an invitation to look deeper—what is it that we have been primarily busy about? And why? Did it connect with the bigger picture of life?
The overarching theme I’ve set at the beginning of the year is: soul harmony through rest. I know, poetic sounding, right?
Did that—soul harmony, happened?
Yes and no.
Yes: Because I was intentional in making space to read God’s words, pray more regularly, and schedule periodical silent retreats. I’ve had moments and brief periods of time where I truly felt rested, perhaps more than my previous years.
No: Because I had more time this year during my period of not working; I think more, and the clutters from my heart surfaced more than before.
I’ve cleared loads of clutter from my physical and digital space. It’s the spiritual clutter that’s more difficult to remove. Not so straightforward.
The struggles got my heart’s attention in whether I’ve placed God as the Lord of my life. And how did I live it out in the days of the year.
This year—I learnt more of myself as I know God more and more.
The more I looked beneath the symptoms from the problems of my life, and shifted to look at Christ’s character: loving, forgiving, gentle, humble…the more God revealed to me the condition of my heart which is often not pretty. Usually, the problems are not the problem; it’s our response to the problems that is the problem. My pastor used to quote this: the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart. Bingo.
This year—I’m big on digging beneath the surface of me, going beyond yearly action-based goals.
There were a lot of thoughts examination. Why I’m repeatedly triggered from the same thing, the same persons; why I’m easily angered (by the way, if you are often easily angered or irritated, this is a big symptom of something’s not right, and it’s leaking out in the form of anger). I’m still working this through, and I felt like this is just the beginning.
This year—I’m not my usual gung-ho self. The go-getter, get-it-done Type A.
Oh, I still have it in me, that’s for sure. But, I’m learning to be pliable to life as life doesn’t bend to our wishes. I’m far, far away from being this vision I have of how a rested person in Christ looks and feels like. But I’m thankful for the seed of wisdom being nurtured to grow into a person—rested because of her dependency on God.
One of the more prominent lessons I’ve learnt to f-l-o-w with God’s leading is during my transition period; when I left my previous work with no idea of what should I do next. I’m not in my 20s to have this boho spirit, mind you.
After a tug-of-war phase of toggling between doing the logical thing of planning to launch my copywriting business; while keeping an eye for directions from God—I hit the oasis of having peace in my heart with uncertainties rather than chasing over what’s uncertain.
That’s when I had a clear why and direction for my then blog, now, newsletter+ website for the first time in four years. And also that building a copywriting business might not be the best thing for me now. Though I’m pretty sure I can push for a decent business to happen, but it may not be well with my soul to chase for it. I don’t know why. Just doesn’t feel right.
So I learnt to let go of my stubborn bite. I’m learning to channel my bull-dog tenacity away from things that don’t matter in light of eternity (which is A LOT); directing it to be watchful of when I stray away from having Christ as my true north. I discovered that like sheep, despite being shown green pastures, I like to waddle away from my Shepherd. A lot.
This year—I’m learning to simplify. To cull: goals, wants, apps, tools, ways, information, social media.
The world: its stimuli and its good intentions are just getting too much for me.
Take productivity tools for example; I know there are loads of useful apps out there for task-tracking, reminders, planning, note-taking, etc. But that also means I have to keep all those different apps synced to one another. So, I chose to stick to Evernote. One app for almost everything. My grocery list, to-dos, meeting notes, idea dump, prayer journals, sermon notes, travel planning, blog post drafts, and many more. It syncs across all my devices. I love it when I can access what I need wherever I am.
This year—I’m learning to focus on the process towards a goal.
Wanna get fitter, lose or gain 2kg? It’s those three-four times a week of workout that we need to be diligent with. Small things done consistently is powerful. And oh, how I love the word “diligent”. Let everything we do be with diligence. Let diligence be in everything we do. We can’t be “diligent” with our goals, but we can be diligent in our steps, our process, our actions.
This is the year that I dare to, albeit gingerly, stick my head out and called myself a writer.
I remembered the very first time I did that was in August. A newly-met friend asked, “what do I do”. I figured saying “I’m jobless” is not so appealing so I said, “I’m a writer.” “Oh, what do you write about?”, she asked. “Articles that’ll help people find hope in trials and walk towards a joyful life.”, I pitched. That led to both of us, strangers just a few minutes ago, sharing about the pains from our lives. I also had the privilege of praying for her.
This is the year I learnt to say no to many things and be intentional in enlarging the space of my heart for God.
I’m ever thankful to God for this season where I have the blessing of time away from full-time work to sit still, be solitary, be present with and for people, “waste time” with God, pausing long enough for truths to surface within my heart so that they can be dealt with.
Have I lived a good life this year? The ambitious Type A in me might dismiss it saying, “it could have been better, ” followed with a long list of things-to-improve. But I hope my developing Type B will say, “Keep walking with Christ. I’m happy that you have become so aware of your need for Christ in your life—yes, you did well this year.”
Your turn (to reflect).
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard
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