As I walk daily through this journey called life I have l have learned a few things and have been keeping a list as a way for me to be self-reflective and self-aware. While I know I have much more to learn along the way, here’s a few things I’ve learned along the journey that I try to apply to my life:
Breathe deeply and smile.
Be patient and take time.
Slow down and notice things around you.
Don’t lose self in the mundane.
Recognize what you can and can’t do.
Talk to God. Pray
Stop and say “Hello. How are you?” to those you come in contact with.
Find a release that brings you gladness.
You can’t fix everything.
Make time for fun.
Do something for others.
Spend time with those close to you.
Laugh a lot.
Spend time outside.
Not everything requires a picture. Enjoy the memory.
Travel and see all that you can.
Experience things that challenge you and make you think outside of the box.
Be open to new and different things.
Consider others before self.
Don’t judge someone based on their social media posts.
Believe in yourself.
Keep encouragers in your life.
Say thank you to those who help you.
Be aware of your health. Take care of yourself.
Try new foods.
Spend time alone lost in your thoughts.
Live in the now and don’t get overwhelmed.
Unplug from social media and technology.
My friends, the journey is filled with many twists, turns and road bumps, learn along the way and reflect.
As singer and songwriter Chris Stapleton eloquently reminds us in his song Traveler:
I’m just a traveler on this earth
Sure as my heart’s behind the pocket of my shirt
I’ll just keep rolling till I’m in the dirt
‘Cause I’m a traveler, oh, I’m a traveler
I couldn’t tell you honey, I don’t know
Where I’m going but I’ve got to go
‘Cause every turn reveals some other road
And I’m a traveller, oh, I’m a traveler
During this Lenten season, I’ve attempted to start my day with a sense of gratitude for the life I have and the many blessings around me. Its allowed me to start the day on a positive note and served as a reminder that it’s never as bad as I think. Some things that I’m grateful for are:
My faith and the ability to have a vocation that allows me to share it openly.
My family that supports and encourages me and made me who I am.
My friendships that encourage and support me.
My sense of adventure and desire for out of the box experiences that push me to think differently.
Beautiful mountains all around me.
Coffee, need I say more.
Modern medicine that keeps me healthy as I’ve experienced an extended season of sinus infections and migraines.
Access to good quality fresh food.
Laughter and a sense humor. The ability to find humor nowadays keeps life from getting too dark and feeling hopeless in many situations.
For the curiosity and purity of children, who can and will change the world!
“Whoever you are, you are human. Wherever you are, you live in the world, which is just waiting for you to notice the holiness in it.”
― Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith
This year Ash Wednesday is on Valentine’s Day which provides us with a lens that allows us to have a better view in how we experience this Lenten season and also reflect on how much we love Christ and how much we are willing to turn our lives over to Christ. The meaning of lent is for us followers of Christ to pause for 6 weeks of self-reflection through prayer and denying ourselves of things that typically would take our attention of from Christ.
For me this Lenten season, I will seek to deepen my faith in more tangible ways by being sure to have daily prayer and devotional time, by sharing God’s love with those I come in contact with, to seek understanding rather than confrontational, I will work better not to judge people based on what I believe to be ignorant and hurtful social media posts, I also will work harder to see the heart and humanness of those I come in contact with.
My hope is this Lenten season we will all seek to go deeper with our creator and have true self-reflection.
Last week I wrote about Making Empathy Great Again to start a conversation about how we all could be a bit more understanding and compassionate to those we come in contact with. This week I think it would be good for us to consider the ways in which we are different, yet all connected.
A word I was introduced to a few years back is Ubuntu it comes from the South African language known as Zulu and has been introduced to many by Bishop Desmond Tutu. The meaning of Ubuntu is often translated as the universal bond which connects all of humanity to one another, at its most basic definition it means “I am because we are”, the notion that we are universally connected and that we what connects us is much greater than what divides us.
I think about all of the things that I have found in common with others that have created friendships and realize the many things that we don’t have in common as well. I have plenty of friends that I don’t agree with on many topics but we have always been able to find commonality in some form and when we have conversations about those things that divide us we have been able to respectfully listen and disagree, which is becoming a foreign concept, so allow me to give us all permission to have friendships with those who don’t agree with us and also see the humanity in those who are different from us.
Now, back Ubuntu and what it means for us in a social climate that suggests we are not connected. We are connected through friendships, hobbies, book groups, causes that we care about, and our moral compasses that suggest we do good and treat others with respect. One place that I have found a common ground and place that reminds me how I am connected to all is the communion table in my church it reminds me that which unites us is much greater than that which divides us!
This post will also be shared on The Odyssey, which is an online community that allows individuals to share their thoughts and opinions. I write for the Western Carolina University Community, which can be accessed by clicking here.
Recently a friend of mine, Katherine, a talented and thoughtful artist created a stencil that says, “Make Empathy Great Again”, while that statement is a spin-off on our current Presidents’ pledge to “Make America Great Again”, I’ll say her statement has much more profundity! Over the past year we have all witnessed a significant shift in how we share our thoughts, feelings, opinions, and beliefs with others, we’ve become much more defensive and unwilling to hear others and meet people where they are; I’ve even noticed that in myself – less likely to hear someone out but quicker to damn and disagree – definitely not how we define empathy.
After talking with Katherine and pondering her thoughts on how we need to Make Empathy Great Again, I realized Katherine is onto something, something that we all need to consider and work towards!
In my profession as a church leader and child care director, I’m often in situations where share the pain and joys of others as they journey through life. I’ve walked with families through tough times like losing a family member, divorces, tough transitions, struggles with family members, celebrated the birth of children, marriages and so many other things that we encounter throughout this life. So, as I reflected on what it meant to have empathy and how to share it those I come in contact with for me it means to have genuine care and concern for those I encounter along this journey called life, it means that I share the hurts and pains of those that I care about. It means that I stop to listen and understand when a friend is in need. It’s my hope that we all can Make Empathy Great Again! Now go and do….