So, I do realize, as you may have been wondering, that this grace period is not just a time for me to go out to lunch and chat with friends. That is a bonus, to be sure, but also, a shift is happening.
I am slowing down. I had previously underestimated the value of slowing down. I have been known for being ‘on a mission’. At the high school where I taught, before I had to give up my heels, my students claimed they could hear me coming down the hall and identify me by my cadence. I moved, people. In the five minutes between bells I could descend two flights of stairs, traverse two hallways, use the restroom, make twenty-five copies, and still make it back to my class before my students. I might communicate with ten people within that five minutes, probably disseminating information: get that paper in, see me after school, your book is in the office, tuck your shirt in, get to class. I might also respond to a couple of questions: do we need our book today? will you be here after school? would you unlock my classroom?
These were all quick exchanges. Necessary? Yes. Deep and life-changing? Not likely. That is not to say I didn’t ever have deep and life-changing conversations. I did, but most of my time was spent on-the-go.
I move pretty slowly these days. I don’t shout orders when I walk through the campus or the grocery store. Nobody is regularly coming to me for help. This shift is making me very observant. I notice things that I might not have noticed before — there are deer eating leaves outside my window, the leaves are changing colors, I am, and have been, surrounded by amazing people.
I am healing. Physically, spiritually, and emotionally. No, I have not experienced a miracle, I still experience the same physical issues — pain, fatigue, and other various minor stuff — but I am learning about things that I can do to improve my health. I must say that daily exercise is improving the way I feel. I continue to read about and experiment with dietary changes. And, I am finding a pace that my body appreciates.
I am reconnecting with the word of God on a daily basis and am impressed with its relevance to my life. I knew this, of course, I just hadn’t been making it a priority. Seems I had forgotten the seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you truth of Scripture. We heard Carl Madearis speak last night. His simple passion for sharing the person of Jesus engaged me. God’s love is powerful and effective. Period. I am remembering that and learning again to embrace it.
I am feeling things — great things. I have been having so much fun talking with people, laughing, listening, sharing. I may have earlier made it seem like I haven’t had any friends in the past ten or more years, not true. However, I hadn’t allowed myself to fully invest in friendship in a very long time. I have guarded my time, my emotions, and myself from others. I may still be doing that, but I am realizing that with slowing down, I am more available to explore my emotions and actually feel them.
I am listening. To others, to myself, and to God. I have often told my students ‘God gave you two ears and one mouth; respect the ratio.’ However, I haven’t fully respected the ratio. I love to talk. I have a lot to say. But, so does everyone else. If I fill up all the spaces with my words, no one else has room to speak. This is a challenge for me, but blogging is helping. I am putting a lot of my words on the page, and I don’t feel the need to share as many with my mouth. This is allowing me to ask more questions and, get this, listen to the answers. When I close my mouth I can hear others’ hearts. I can hear my own thoughts. I can hear the nudgings and proddings of God.
(If you just fist-pumped or said ‘Hallelujah, she is shutting up!’ I won’t judge you.)
So, in all, I highly recommend the grace period. It’s turning out to be life-changing. I am still looking toward the end, and admittedly scanning the classified ads for positions. However, I am pretty settled in for the next couple of months to see how I shift and and what God has planned for me in the next chapter.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you.”