{A Practice of Reflection}

Welcome to February, friends.  This year, I’m trying to be more intentional about taking time to reflect throughout the year.  Self-reflection is something that I’ve often done in fits and spurts, or during difficult times in my journey when it’s been forced upon me (here’s looking at you, Summer 2019).  This year of “Vision” seems like a good year to put some intentionality to my practice of reflection.  The ability to reflect on what I’m learning, how I’m doing, and where I’m growing feels critical to defining a vision for where areas of my life (writing, ministry, work) are headed in the future.  As Maui says in Disney’s Moana, “It’s knowing where you’re going, by knowing where you’ve been.”
One of the leaders of hope*writers, an online writing community that I recently joined, posed three reflection questions for moving out of January and into February:

My most life-giving yes:

After “finishing” my novel in November, I set it aside to give it some space before diving into the editing process.  It was good timing, with the glory and chaos that is Christmastime when you are a church planter.  After the holidays, I was given the opportunity to begin working with a critique partner in the editing process.  It works this way:  I make edits, she reads my chapters and gives me feedback, and then I make more revisions as necessary.  It’s been wonderful and exciting.  It was a bit of a scary “Yes” because it means putting my book baby in the hands of someone else and letting them tell me if it’s good or not.  But even though it’s been scary, it’s also so necessary.  I want this book to be the best it can be, not just because I want to write excellently, but because I want to honor the story that is in it.  And I’m finding life in this process.  Editing can be a drainer, but I find myself excited to get home after work to spend time with my manuscript, so that I can send off the next chapters.  It feels right.  It feels like this is something I’m meant to do, and that feeling is so exciting!

My most life giving no:

This will probably sound backwards.  Because my no was also a yes.  I said no to the pressure that I put on myself to use running as my main form of movement, specifically year round outdoor running.  In a community like Spokane, running is king, and you get extra points (literally, they’re called frost points) if you run outside in the winter instead of retreating to the treadmill.  My pride wanted to keep running outdoors in the cold and the ice and the dark.  My pride didn’t want to retreat to the gym for biking or treadmill running.  But my knee is not strong enough yet for icy runs, and one good slip could result in surgery instead of just a small oops.  It took me awhile to swallow this bitter pill, but I finally did, and I said NO to my pride, and said YES to a Planet Fitness membership.  And instead of feeling guilty about not getting in a run on icy roads, or feeling shame because I’m biking inside instead of running, I’m celebrating that I have the opportunity to move, and I’m getting my workouts in regularly.  And I still go run outside when it’s nice enough out, and I get to celebrate that instead of feeling guilt.

What I want to leave behind:

While January often feels inordinately long for many people, It’s actually a month I quite enjoy.  In our household, January is a major birthday month.  Mine comes first, then Jon’s, then Michaela’s at the end of the month.  With all the celebrating, it’s hard to let January get me down.  This year was a little different than most, though, and I think I’ve pinpointed what’s going on.  There are a couple of areas in my life where discouragement is creeping in.  Along with the discouragement is a feeling that there’s not much that I can do to remedy the situation, which is also leading to feeling defeated in these same areas.  I’m choosing not to go into detail here, because the hows and whys and wheres are really not the point.  The point is that I’ve allowed myself to lose hope in some areas, and that mindset has got to change.  So, I’m choosing to leave discouragement and defeat behind, and choosing trust and hope instead.

January weather is often cold and gloomy, but this year it gave us a taste of Spring just toward the end: sunshine and glorious 50 degree days.  Finishing this post on the 5th of February, though, we are just coming off a couple of rough days of snow, winter driving, and icy roads.  Not my favorite.  But just as January gave us a glimpse of the hope of Spring, I look forward to leaving behind the discouragement of January, trusting in the One who is my true Hope.

I’d love to hear from you!  Do you practice reflection and what works for you?  Drop me a comment!

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