By Katie Choi
I decided to write myself a letter. Inspiration came when I found a letter I had written to myself when I was serving in Harmons, Jamaica a few years back. I had gone on a service trip there with the company I work for, and the last night there in Harmons, you write a letter to yourself that you get back a few months later. The main idea of the exercise is to reflect on what you learned during the trip, opening it after you are home and settled back into your routine(s). The letter from Harmons made me think; it might be good to take some time and reflect on what I am learning in this season.
I am not one to keep a consistent journal. On one hand, it’s because I am not disciplined in that way, on the other hand, I think it’s also because it feels scary and vulnerable to capture feelings on paper. If I am honest, I think the second reason I listed might be impacting the first. . . But, sometimes it is good to stretch yourself. So, I wrote a letter to myself. My hope is that I’ll read it a year from now and be reminded of what I am learning in this season. Maybe you’d like to write one, too?
Dear Kate –
How in the world are ya? It is July, 2020. It feels like there are so many lessons, struggles and all sorts of things to notice and learn. Writing some of this down is an attempt to capture the times and feelings of now, because both can be so fleeting. This might be hard to recall in a year, but initially, you were pumped about this idea of writing a letter, but as you began, you quickly felt intimidated. So before you read any further, pause to say a quick prayer for wisdom and grace. Wisdom to receive these reflections, and grace to fight against any feelings of self-doubt or negativity.
Here are a few things that have been on my mind and heart lately:
You can always be a better listener.
I hope you have been asking a lot of questions, receiving the answers, and not turning conversations back onto yourself. Gulp, try and receive that sentence with love. Last year, you read Kate Murphy’s book, You’re Not Listening, and you liked it (you even mentioned this in your post you wrote last week so you really, really liked it). You love talking to people and getting to know them so I hope this book helped you to do that better. I hope you took time to slow down and make people feel heard. I hope you followed up, remembered, and took time to love people well in this way. Accept that you have a lot to learn and that others can teach you.
It’s okay to be bored.
Bored isn’t the same as being lazy, and our days don’t always have to be filled with productivity or accomplishments on a to-do list. It’s okay to sit and watch your daughter play and waste a couple hours just being with her. While you are on this quest of embracing boredom and you find yourself with downtime, your phone isn’t likely the best way to fill that time. You haven’t found it to be life giving, rather the opposite. Don’t pick it up when you don’t know what else to do. Sit still, dream, imagine, and make believe. There’s a time to get things done. Then there are other times to rest and make memories. Accept that you can struggle to be idle and be thoughtful at being present.
Every season is going to be busy.
I hope you found a better answer for people when they asked how you were doing. We all are busy because life is busy and full. Embrace that, but don’t let it overtake you. Make good, thoughtful decisions about how to spend your time, but don’t kid yourself into thinking you will have more time in the next season. Maybe that will be true, but each season is going to be full. Remember the advice about setting your smartphone down? If you have an hour to waste scrolling around on Pinterest, maybe you aren’t as busy as you think you are. Accept the fullness of life and find opportunities serve others.
Embrace the answer ‘I don’t know.’
Whew, I hope that has felt freeing. I hope that you have found some peace in the nuance of life, we all must live in the gray. This sort of goes back to your thoughts on listening. As you practice, I hope you have found you don’t need an answer for everything. Take time before you speak. Accept that you form opinions with a limited amount of information and that others might feel differently.
Trust in God, and welcome His promises.
God has loved you a long time, accept that love. You believe that in your mind so welcome that into your heart. Remember that His love isn’t limited to you, but is offered to everyone. Strive to do the same, offering love and respect to everyone. Love those that disagree with you, hurt your feelings or speak truth which may be hard to take at times. You aren’t in control, welcome that someone else is. Accept that you can cling to these words from Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
This may feel overwhelming to you as your people pleasing and perfectionist feelings arise. I know you, and I know that might be how you are feeling as you read these words. I bet you feel like you should be farther along than where you are today. Accept where you are today, where you are going tomorrow, and that you will forever be on this journey.
*** Practice being vulnerable. There are lessons in that. I am praying with you and for you and wishing you peace.