Arising early on what will be a warm summer day, I reflect on the events of yesterday and prepare for the day ahead, I am amazed how life moves quickly via each day one after the other. Life appears slow-paced as you go through the day, but when you look back it has moved by at warp-speed. One reason for my reflection is that several significant events have happened in my life during the summer: I was born in August, got married on a day in June, and was ordained in July. Most of my moves to new assignments took place during the summer as well. Summer is a natural time for me to take stock and reflect on life and here are a few of my observations:
There is always something for which to give thanks. All reflections should start and end with Thanksgiving. Gratitude is an essential lubricant that keeps the friction of life at bay. Have you incorporated into your life regular opportunities for being grateful? Keeping a gratitude journal keeps you focused on the good things of life rather than giving in to the negative that surrounds us. Keeping a gratitude journal is a practice that will help you cultivate a thankful spirit.
Reflecting is a time to remember. Memories are the mental photo albums containing past treasures. Life is lived forward but is better understood, looking backward. There have been events of great significance that have happened in my life that, over time, have become sweeter and the impact broader and more profound. Without reflection, much meaning gives way to mere sentiment. Reflecting on the pivotal points in your life helps to maintain perspective.
Reflecting serves as a reminder that every day is a gift. Distraction and busyness hold us captive to getting caught up in the routines of life, and thus, we seldom evaluate and examine the essential details and moments of life.
Reflecting is an influential teacher. Lessons are learned, but life lessons must be applied! Success is an excellent teacher, and failure is a tremendous teacher! Some of the most important things that I have learned have come from times where I thought I was defeated. Learning what not to do is a significant help as you face similar trials in the days ahead. I have learned more from my critics more than I have from my friends. My friends care about me, and often they try to protect me from the reality of the situation. Those concerns do not burden critics, they tell me not so much what I want to hear, but what I need to hear, and if I will receive it and look for the kernel of truth, it can become an exercise in growth. Reflection and gratitude build my empathy muscles. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Understanding my journey through the ups and downs, the joy and disappointments, and the good and the bad enables me to empathize with what others are experiencing.
Reflections assist us in seeing God’s work in our lives. There have been times in my life when I have wondered if God was indeed “working all things together for my good?” Reflected perspective gives me the opportunity after the fact to realize He was there all of the time. Often things that I thought were happening to me; were happening ‘for’ me! God was shaping and fashioning His will on the anvil of painful events He was hammering out my character. Though painful to experience, the experience has helped to mold me into the person I have become.
Take some time this week and reflect on the goodness of God in your life. Pause and Give thanks to Him, your family, and friends. Surprise someone with a note of appreciation who has made a difference in your life.