Sunday, March 6, 2011

Living with Purpose (Part One)

So I started this post about a week ago and then halfway through got distracted and never came back. However, I had this little voice whispering in my ear tonight to come back and finish it- so I'm just going to assume that God needs to tell someone something important, and if he wants to do it through my ramblings, so be it!

One of my missions this year (I hate to use the word resolutions) was to be more deliberate in self-reflection and daily devotion. I know from experience that aiming for very concrete goals such as 'reading the bible daily', 'making sure to pray 20 minutes a day', etc are nearly impossible to maintain consistently without a fail. Typically as soon as I miss a day or two I feel failure and eventually give up on the entire endeavor. Instead this year, particularly as I headed into my internship (a time I recognize as an opportunity for growth and maturation), I wanted to make an effortful attempt to spent time on self-reflection.

In many ways I feel as though I'm at a crossroads with my life. In two months time (Wow, can that be accurate?!) I will be done with the training portion of my career and ready to start searching for employment. In approximately six months time (provided I can get my butt in gear and write) I will have successfully attained my masters and be completely done with schooling, or at least done for this season of my life. The past 6 years have been primarily characterized by a state of transition. I know that a big portion of that blame lies on my own shoulders; it was my own choice to switch school half way through undergrad. I don't regret any choices I have made, and I feel that each place I lived/visited has contributed into making me who I am today. However, in short, I am ready for some stability.

That stability is still several months off, and instead my focus during this last (hopefully) transition period, is in making sure that I am very clear on God's plan for my life. I have been incredibly guilty in the past of not really giving God much say in my plans, or at least doing so in a very controlling manner. I did a similar thing with a patient the other day. We were building a tower out of blocks, and the little girl was not old enough or adept enough to actually do the activity on her own (in her defense she was 2!! lol). So instead, I would let her play with a block or two, putting them where she wanted and then doing the rest of the work on my own, yet still giving her credit for the overall product. Although I did most of the work, I let her have enough control to believe that she was actually in charge, and thus get a sense of mastery and competence. For that patient it was a perfect plan, unfortunately (or rather fortunately for us!), God isn't that naive. It's as if I somehow thought I could fool God into believing I really was letting him dictate the course of my life, while I was simultaneously making all the decisions.

Needless to say that hasn't gotten me very far. Or maybe, God was doing the same thing for me; he has been guiding me where I need to go all along, although doing so in a way that makes me think I'm the one in the driver's seat. I truly do believe that at this point in time I am exactly where I am supposed to be, however I think I could have saved myself a lot of pain and heartache if I had been willing to accept a little divine counsel along the way. So I'm doing things differently right now. Only took me 24 years of struggle; no one said I was on the fast end of the spiritual learning curve. But as I tell my patients, don't compare yourself to others, you just need to work at your own pace.

Wow that was a long winded-way of prefacing my topic today! One of the ways I have been effortfully focusing on God's purpose in my life is through nightly reading/journaling. Every night, before I go to bed,I take a moment to handwrite in a journal all of my praises and concerns. One of the most difficult things for me to is to really ask God for help. I often feel like my requests are trivial and insiginficant, yet I do think God likes hearing it all, small and large. I love hearing all the details of my friend's lives, even the little things, why wouldn't God feel the same way? So I write it down. Even the simple praises like "I found my car keys", "I had a delicious lunch", "I found a great deal at the store"- I try to make myself focus on all the little joys in my life. The same with my concerns- I write them all down and try to give them to God.

I then have been reading from this book:

Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

I know this book was circulating the Christian community almost 10 years ago, but as I was home over Christmas I saw the book on my sister's shelf and felt an urge to pick it up. Over the past month I've been reading a chapter a night and writing down any particular quotes or ideas that jump out and speak to me. Talk about timing though, God certainly had a plan in this because so many of the nightly topics have perfectly reflected the events/struggles of my day. I thought I'd go through and share a few of the insights I've gathered, because let's face it, it never hurts to remind ourselves over and over again that God cares for us! (Direct quotes from Purpose Driven Life will be marked)

"While there are illegitimate parents, there are no illegitimate children"~PDL

Jealousy and envy will get you no where. If you want the life and happiness others have you must be willing to emulate their efforts and sacrifices A fulfilled life does not come without work.

"Those who follow the crowd eventually get lost in it"~PDL

"God wants us to pass the test, so he gave us the questions in advance"~PDL

"The way you see your life shapes your life"~PDL

Sometimes what we view as our greatest weakness or character flaw is actually a unique gift from God. For example, I beat myself up for getting overly emotionally involved with my life, however that trait is also what makes me so adept at forming strong therapeutic relationships with my patients and families. Likewise, my anxiety issues force me to be meticulous and thorough in everything I do.

"Trusting God completely means having faith that he knows what is best for your life. You expect him to keep promises, help you with problems, and do the impossible when necessary"-PDL. For the record, this was in my nightly reading the day that I found out I might lose my internship unless I was granted a miracle.

"When you think about a problem over and over in your mind, that's called worry. When you think about God's word over and over in your mind, that's meditation. The more you meditate on God's word, the les syou will have to worry about."~PDL

"Time is your most precious gift, because you only have a set amount of it"~PDL

"Pride builds walls between people, humility builds bridges.. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less"~PDL

Read the following quote the night after I had received very very very critical and harsh feedback during my first evaluation (and was feeling hopeless, despondent and highly critical of myself)
: "the truth will us free but often it makes us miserable first. The fear of what we might discover if we honestly face our character defects keeps us living in the prison of denial"~PDL

"We can measure our servants heart by how we respond when others treat us like servants"~ PDL This came on a day that I had issues with superiors/other colleagues treating me like as though I was worthless.


I want to post tomorrow and really reflect on the past four weeks as I have now completed my first rotation, but I will say that it has been challenging in ways I had never expected. I can physically observe the changes in myself, both external and internal, and it has been amazing to watch the transformation. I will say that one of the best compliments I received during my final evaluation for Rotation One was that I am truly gifted in self-reflection. My preceptor told me how impressed she's been with my ability to accurately self-evaluate and my willingness to really dive into my own character flaws and deficiencies. My desire to improve and become a better person AND a better child life specialist is readily apparent and makes me a great student to work with. I think hearing that made me happier than if she had told me I had been perfect in all our clinical work!

(To be continued)