We are constantly on the move trying to make something of and for ourselves; maintain relationships and friendships; be healthier and fitter; achieve something great and still enjoy life to the fullest as God intended us to. Sometimes, however, we just keep on going, and going, and going until it gets to a point that we either grow and make amendments, or lose essence of it all and forget about the self that then leads to complacency, frustration and anxiety of the unknown. We get into a robotic system that mistakenly justifies our sense of achievement; let’s admit, if by a certain time of the day, so and so has not been completed; we become flustered and get a sense of discontentment or disappointment. We start working for the sake of working and forget what it means to do what we enjoy, and enjoy what we do. With all the constant rush around us, do we ever just take a moment to p a u s e… reflect, and ask ourselves, “How do you feel today?”
Self-reflection has grown to be one of my most favourite exercises (and equally the most awkward thing to do) for looking at myself from the outside-in, and understanding who I have grown to be. It is a private, personal and honest space where I map out my strengths, weaknesses, feelings, concerns; where I redefine my purpose and remind myself of my vision and passions. I dig into my most vulnerable and sacred areas and attempt to make sense of my attitudes, reactions and opinions, and I also reflect back on how both daily and life-time experiences have shaped me. I first started doing this when I found myself being busy with busy-ness, but not actually having anything tangible to show for what I had been getting up to. I felt overwhelmed and forgot to look after the self, as a result, I become irritable and easily annoyed. Helping others became a burden and I would compromise rather than willingly agree to it. I had good days, and bad days but failed to remain positive because I was far from relaxed. I did not feel like me, but did not know why.
Today I want to share the question I ask myself at the start of my quiet time, in order to get a real sense of me…
“How do you feel… today?”
Not, “You have x,y,z to be finished and completed by next Monday, how do you feel about that?”
Not, “Last week you failed to stick to your exercise plan, how do you feel now?”
But, How do, did, you feel, today.
Firstly, this reminds that yesterday’s concerns are of the past and tomorrow is in God’s control. I am to tackle each day at a time and understand my today to prepare for tomorrow; also, it helps to see my daily concerns at bitesize rather than to magnify them as a dark cloud which will never go away.
Following this, I think through different points of the day, and recall significant and minor emotions, feelings, thoughts, achievements, experiences, activities and moments. Believe me, it is not until your day is presented to you on a plate, that you realise just how big or small of a rollercoaster your journey is.
The second question I ask myself is…
“What does God say?”
Now this is not me justifying negative attitudes and thoughts with the word of God, but instead, it is seeking what the word has already said in regards to my situation, and aligning my feelings with what He says. To put it in perspective, one common feeling I experience is being overwhelmed and my “run-to” scripture for this is:
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
What I love about this scripture is that God knows it will become too much for us at some point but instead of just saying “get on with it”, he calls us in to him and gives us rest. His comfort reassures us that by trusting in him, he releases us from the pressure we are under. He has already experienced this feeling so understands how we feel; therefore, we are not alone, and although we may have made the mistake of thinking we could do this on our own strength, he will not turn us away with pride and an “I told you so”. We may be too scared to run to him but he is gentle; like a mother with her new born baby who only knows to express his pain and hunger through crying, his patience will never run out and he will take care of us regardless.
For me, this scripture also reminds me that when things in life become overbearing and too much to handle, I need to turn my frustration to God. I should not lose myself in the moment of working too hard that I become too tired to seek God and give him thanks. God is always calling me with his arms opened, to go to him when I need a break. I need to talk to him! He sees me getting tied up and wants me to just call on him. He is a God of peace and will stretch that over me if I can just humble myself and admit that I need him. I need to stop worrying, thinking that everything needs to be perfect and beating myself up when things go unexpectedly left.
And there I have it, a solution to my problem.
So how do I feel today? I feel comforted, light and at peace. The burden of today has been lifted and God has seen my struggle. I managed to get through today because of Him, so I call on him to get me through tomorrow.