After long absences from my blog, I never know what is going to come out of my fingers when I finally make the time to sit down. Will I start writing about why I haven’t written sooner? what we have been doing with our time? what kind of students I am working with? How my health is (or is not) progressing? Or how I am looking forward to what’s coming up in the next few weeks?
I don’t know. Today I don’t feel a drive to write about any of the above, but I do feel compelled to get back to my blog. I love the discipline of writing every day, and I love how it causes me to reflect on how I am living my life. Writing causes me to pause and take stock of what is happening and what I think and feel about it.
Last weekend, I visited our two daughters who are currently living in Boston. We did some sightseeing, yes, but we also had chunks of time when we were just together. We rode in the car from the city center to where we were staying. We visited coffee houses. We sat together on the couch and watched the Olympics and reality TV. I found myself, in those moments of sitting with my adult daughters, reflecting on how my husband and I parented our children. From time to time my musings became audible.
“I wish I wouldn’t have freaked out over the little things so much.”
“I wish I would’ve taken more time to show you kids how to do more things.”
“I wish I would have stepped into some situations more thoughtfully.”
My girls were very gracious. “Mom, you had three babies in three years! We were a lot to take care of! You did your best!” “Mom, we turned out pretty good.”
They’re right. We did have three babies in three years and we were very busy for many consecutive minutes.hours.days.weeks.months.years. And, our kids are pretty great. We are blessed.
But, you know, twenty-five years flew by pretty darn quickly. And sometimes I even wished that the moments would speed by. Parenting is hard work. It is exhausting and sometimes overwhelming. And, in true Kristin fashion, I muscled through.
At one moment last weekend, in the proximity of my girls, I heard myself say out loud, “You know what I wish the most? I wish I would’ve taken more time to reflect. I wish I would’ve been still long enough to say to myself, ‘How is this working out?'”
They were silent, so I said, “If I could give you one piece of advice right now it would be that: take time to be still and reflect.”
It took me a chronic illness and a six-month vacation from work to realize the power of stillness and reflection. What began as a crutch to help me hobble through the unchartered territory of unemployment turned into a vehicle that helped me explore my thoughts and feelings about my current reality. In exploring those thoughts and feelings, I have also explored my past and its impact on my life and the lives of those that I love. These explorations have, I believe, contributed to my healing — if not my actual physical healing, then certainly my mental and emotional healing.
Over the past eighteen months, I have gradually transitioned from not working at all to working about 20-25 hours a week. This was part of the goal all along. I love teaching, and God has provided so many opportunities for me to work with students that don’t require me to have a full-time position. However, in transitioning back to more regular work, I don’t want to flush the lessons I learned during the stillness.
This is the challenge of real life, isn’t it? How do I find balance? How do I get the fulfillment that comes from work while also taking the time to care for myself? How do I care for myself through exercise, healthy eating, and time for reflection, without overlooking the needs of the people closest to me? How do I attend to the needs of my family while still finding time to connect with friends? How do I make time to connect with friends and still have regular time to connect with God?
I sure don’t have a simple answer. However, what I have learned is that, for me, one way to take the pulse on how I am doing with finding that balance, is to take some moments to reflect through writing. So, here I am, returning and reflecting so that I can continue to heal and continue to grow.
Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.