Feeling Reflectful, at Year’s End
“Reflectful” may not be a real word, but it’s the combination of letters that best ex”presses how I feel this early morning of last day of 2018.
“Respectful” would mean “full of respect,” right? So “reflectful” might suggest being full of reflect(ion). OK, I admit that’s a stretch. But here I am…and by now you might have gathered that I sat down to this screen without a clue as to what I would write about today. I considered dragging out one of my reflections from last winter/spring, but then I realized I felt “reflectful,” so here goes.
Looking back, the year seems to have got behind me before I really even knew it was coming. There is a risk, here, of feeling regretful, of thinking about the year gone by as something that got away before I got the good out of it.
Not so! I think my sense that the year went by so quickly comes from having, for the most part, truly lived in the moment and from having focused more and more on being where God wants me, doing what He asks me to do in service to Him and to the people in my life. Rather than being focused on the passage of time, or being focused on the anticipation of future stuff, I was focused on right where I was…at least, most of the time.
Living in the [spiritual] moment gets one outside oneself. And I mean that quite literally. Living in this way leads away from self-centeredness and all of the pride, impatience, and annoyance that go with it, and toward a way of spending time that relies far less on what I want or expect and far more on what God wants and expects.
I really love how this works. It’s a grace thing. One day from this past year stands out especially vividly as an example. I got up on a Monday morning, enjoying the thought that I had a whole unscheduled day ahead of me and making plans for what I would do. My first stop was at 6:30 a.m. Mass, where I offered my gloriously unscheduled day to God and asked Him to show me how I could serve Him.
Sometimes prayers are answered with incredible swiftness. Before I left the chapel, I had text messages asking me to take care of not just one, not two, but all three of the little ones in my nearby family. I don’t remember exactly why, but Plan A for daycare for all 3 obviously had fallen through, and I’m Plan B.
There was a time, not so very long ago, when my initial response would have been along the lines of “Oh, great. Just when I had a nice quiet day planned. Shoot! Well, I guess I can make the best of it….” I’d have said “Sure,” and I’d have made it work, but I might have been less patient and caring than one would expect of the best Grannie in the world. Even if I didn’t express it outwardly, I’d have kind of resented the disruption in my plans.
But that morning, my response was much different. I remember looking at the messages and thinking, “Oh! So that’s what You have in mind for me today!” I responded immediately with an affirmative and some heart and smile emojis for good measure, and started thinking about the fun and hugs that were in store for me. Rather than praying for patience, I found myself simply asking to be the best Grannie to those little ones so that they would have a great day.
And this kind of response to what comes into my path in life has become more and more common over the past year. When I think about the year in retrospect, in my “reflectful” state of mind, what stands out to me is that over these days and weeks and months, I have stepped more and more out of my self. I’ve begun to be less concerned about what I think I want and more concerned about where God might lead me.
I’m finding this to be an incredibly liberating and energizing way to live my days. When I’m indulging a self-centered state of mind, I’m constantly anxious and worried about whether events and people and things are going to line up so that my plans can be carried out. But here’s the thing! If I’m pushy enough and vocal enough, I can get everything to line up so that my plans work. And when it’s done, I’m left with — at best — an incredibly blah sense of “So what?” and at worst, increased anxiety and even guilt, because I realize, when I’m honest with myself, that I’ve probably accomplished it at the expense of the comfort of the other people involved.
When I take myself and my plans out of the equation, and start looking outside of me to what’s good for the people around me, it all changes. Why should that me? And yet it does — pleasantly and repeatedly. I get to turn the “So what?” back in the right direction.
So what if we aren’t going to arrive at our destination 5-10 minutes early? I’m with people I love, and they deserve not to feel rushed just because I have this little compulsion about being early.
So what if I’m in a noisy, crowded place? Is there a way to set aside how I let it make me feel, and instead look for ways to have fun and to see Jesus in those around me — and for ways to let them see Him in me?
So what if the day isn’t going to go just as I planned it? Whose day is it, after all?
And it’s the answer to that last question that brings me back to the source of this reflectful state of mind, today, on the last day of 2018: Whose day is it, after all?
God created it. God gave it to me and to everyone around me. God gave this day to the world. It’s God’s day, and by grace I am living it with His blessing as His beloved child.
Dear Father God, thank You for this day. You’ve created it and given it to me to live in, and I ask humbly for Your grace to live it in a way that honors You and shows my love for You. Please show Yourself to me in everyone I meet, and use me, Lord. Use me to show Yourself to everyone I meet. And I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, because when I try to deal with the future I get trapped in that web of self-centeredness; but please, Father, give me the grace to wake up each morning with my first thoughts centered on gratitude for Your gifts and on how I can better serve You in that day and in the events and people You put before me. You loved me into being; You loved me into redemption; and You daily love me into greater holiness. Grant me grace to live always in that love. Amen.