Thursday, August 6, 2015

Remember the Highlights

I met with my Spiritual Director yesterday and explained to her that I sensed I am transitioning into a new season of life. She sat thoughtfully for a moment and then shared with me that she finds it helpful to remember the highlights of one season as she is about to enter a new season. She asked me to consider the moments, lessons, experiences that I want to remember that were part of the season I am currently in.

This seems like a very simple idea, but I found that it was profoundly important as I stand on the brink of a new phase of life. This season was not just a long season of summer for me. It was a season of healing, self-awareness, creativity, trying out new talents and new versions of myself, and becoming a carrier of literal life as I experience my first pregnancy. 

There have been moments during this season that have changed me forever both because of their value in bringing me joy and assurance, but also for reminding me how I sloshed through pain and came out an even better version of myself. I have a lot to be proud of and even more to be grateful for.

It reminded me of a time when I was serving Room In the Inn at our church. I scrambled together with a group of young adults to be sure all our neighbors had been fed and served to the level of comfort we hoped to be able to give them. After dinner, we rushed around the kitchen to clean up the mess we had made. When we were finished, folks began to fly out the door and on to the next thing pressing on their agendas. Before the whole group had dispersed, our amazing Pastor, Petra, asked us to join her at a table for a moment. At first, I found myself a little bit annoyed to be slowed down when I too, had something else to do, but I complied. 

Petra asked us to consider what we did that night. What did we observe? What did we learn? What instances sparked something in us? What were we going to take away from this experience? Essentially she was asking, "Why did this matter for you?" 

This conversation took no more than ten minutes but it changed my perspective on serving in my community. Now, I see that this practice extends to more than a day of intentional mission in the city. 

What my Spiritual Director and Petra both know is that it is worth it to pause, just for a moment, and consider why an experience mattered before jumping into the next one. If you believe, even slightly, that everything you encounter is an opportunity to learn and grow, then you will understand just how valuable this exercise will be to your daily routine. These are the lessons that you have been given. These are the gifts and fruits of a continually growing life. It is a waste to just have an experience and then have another experience and then another without pausing to claim why they mattered to you.

As I step into a new season, I have made a list in my journal of all the highlights of the one I am currently in. Just seeing them all written out has also assured me that this time was very well spent. Which reminds me that another thing that tends to happen at the end of a season, is that you feel tired and burnt out by it. So often your feelings and thoughts about it seem more negative towards the end. When you take the time to remember the highlights, you are able to recall just how positive and helpful this season really was for your development. If it was a very difficult season, it is good to see where those painful moments began to shape you and forge you into who you are now, so that you are better prepared and more grateful as you step (hopefully) into the next season of growth. 

It is a most unfortunate part of human nature how quickly we forget the miracles of our lives. I have so many incredible experiences that I swear I will always remember that will shape my life forever, but I am very quick to forget what they were and I often don't remember to let them shape my life today. I have read that it is a wonderful practice to list your successes. For example, if you are listing successes at work, when you come to a rough period it is amazing to go over this list of all you have been able to accomplish. It really gives justification to your current exhaustion and you can feel a sense of pride for all you HAVE been able to do. If you are keeping a list of miracles or highlights in life, this list will continually remind you of the wonder in this world and how each season is packed full of life-changing magic that is meant to fill your soul. You know it because you experienced it, but claiming it and REMEMBERING it will bring intention to that experience. 

Remembering is an action. It is a verb. It is something that we can do. Our memories both shape who we are and remind us of where we have come from. There is a reason our brains are able to remember. Our memory is a tool for development and teaches us about intentionality and purpose so that we are able to hold onto what matters in life and essentially, grow.

If, like me, you are on the verge of heading into a new season, consider taking a moment to recall the highlights of the one your currently in. You'll be amazed how grateful you will be once you remember how you have been given such an incredible period of gifts and lessons.

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