The month of October has been rich with meaning for me. There are so many things that I observed and pondered over this month. It truly feels like I’m in a season of true spiritual and emotional growth. I hope you enjoy my reflections as much I have enjoyed recording them this month.
I can write poetry.
I didn’t say I could write good poetry. I said that I can write poetry. This may not seem like a big thing, but it was eye-opening for me. I listened to a teaching by Morgan Harper Nichols early in the month, and she encouraged me to give poetry a shot. I sat down with my notebook almost immediately after listening to her affirmations over me, and scribbled out a poem (You can see the poem that I wrote for Instagram here). The significance of this is not that I could jot down a poem, but rather that I can do a thing that I didn’t think I was capable of. What else is there that I can do that I’ve convinced myself isn’t possible? What are the things that you can do that you didn’t know was within the realm of possibility? It’s worth thinking about.
My soul needs care just as much, if not more, as the other parts of my being.
I’m pretty good at recognizing when I’m physically tired or emotionally drained, but I’ve never thought much about the needs of my soul or of how good soul care has an immediate impact on other areas of my life. This month I came home after a long and hard day, and instead of dropping onto the couch as I would normally do, I instead went for a walk and listened to “The Next Right Thing” podcast with Emily P. Freeman (my go-to soul-care measure). When I came home from my walk, only then did I drop onto the couch. My physical body did need rest, but more than that, my soul needed care. I’m guilty of getting the two things mixed up. I rest my body when what I really need is rest for my soul. Sometimes, I need both, but when the two needs collide, more often I need to tend to my soul first. This simple insight into myself has been a huge revelation to me this month. I am now actively and intentionally trying to fit things into my day that I know will nourish my soul. No longer is this a luxury–it is a necessity.
I have a story to tell (and so do you).
I’ve never thought much about my life as a story worth telling, but that notion was challenged this month by Marion Roach Smith, and some other profound writers. What I learned this month is that all of us have a story to tell. I have a story to share and so do you. Our lives, in fact, are filled with stories if we are brave enough to tell them. It may be that we tell our stories publicly on blogs or social media, or it may be that we keep our stories close and share them only with the people that we trust, but the truth is that we all have a story to tell. More than for entertainment though, our stories also have the power to heal, to inspire, and to encourage. The bits and pieces of our lives–even the hardest parts–can be used for God’s glory when we are willing to share them.
A new appreciation for the dark.
I read the book Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor this month, and she really challenged the way that I view the dark both literally and metaphorically. I, like many, avoid the dark both outside and inside. Brown encourages her readers to embrace the dark, and in fact, argues that some of our most valuable gifts are given to us in our darkest spaces. This month I spent some time in the physical dark, and realized how much beauty there is to behold there. In my normal life, I’m only ever in the dark when I’m walking to and from my car. Rarely, do I opt to be outside in the dark without a purpose. It was almost magical for me to step outside in the dark with no other purpose than to look at the sky and experience what the dark has to offer. Brown taught me that as I trust God in the physical dark, so must I trust Him the inner darkness of my soul.
To honor my limits.
I listened to another training this month by Ashley Hales author of A Spacious Life: Trading Hustle and Hurry for the Goodness of Limits. This is perhaps my most important lesson this month: Learn to embrace and honor my limits. I’m such an overachiever that I resist my natural limits at all costs. In fact, I’ve been known to just plow through them. This doggedness of mine and a simple failure to respect my natural boundaries has led me to burnout time and time again. I cannot do my good work unless I respect my limits. This mainly applies to my time limits, but it also is applicable to my emotional expenditure. As much as I want to deny it to myself (and to you dear reader), I’m a person with limitations. I can’t do all the things, and when I try I immediately hit the wall of my own limits (yet again). Learning to identify and even honor these limits is probably going to be a struggle for me always, but it is getting better, and for that I am grateful.
Favorite Quote from October
“While I am looking for something large, bright, and unmistakably holy, God slips something small, dark, and apparently negligible in my pocket. How many other treasures have I walked right by because they did not meet my standards? At least one of the day’s lessons is about learning to let go of my bright ideas about God so that my eyes are open to the God who is.”Barbara Brown Taylor in Learning to Walk in the Dark
I’m so looking forward to November–a fresh new month to experience God in the big ways and the small ones.