The best thing about reflecting on another year gone by is the realization that I’ve changed and grown. Even better, I’m happy with the progress. I realize these musings have been sitting on my mind partly because of my evaluation course; let’s treat this post as an evaluation of outputs of activities and intermediate outcomes (Spaulding, 2013).
I’ve progressed a bit on this year’s goal of practicing watercolours. What’s more, the painting has increased my confidence in use of colour overall. Pencil crayons used to feel like an impossible hurdle. I remember feeling like it was a talent always out of reach, and I realize now that anyone can try blending colours. I’m less anxious over new recipes and getting dinner done at a specific time. I’m okay with my toddler ignoring the things I make because I know it’s almost always a matter of time before she is attracted to whatever it is, revisiting an opportunity I thought she’d previously tossed aside. I’m okay with buying tools for myself because I know I’ll use them.
I also sorted my closet recently. I’d been putting this off because I thought it was stupid to waste time on my looks / myself especially if I’m probably going to change shape and size again when we (hopefully) conceive, but then I realized that 1) my mental health affects my family, 2) my closet was a significant point of irritation, and 3) if I could do something about it, I should, for myself and for my family. Maybe in some ways, adjusting my closet to my body now also meant that I’m trusting God with the timing and responding to what is now, rather than holding off in the hopes of another soon-to-be-child. My drawer is so much neater. What a first-world problem, to have to remove clothing. I don’t think I need to buy clothing again, period. Except for maybe socks.
I realize the talented people I see don’t always talk about the immense amount of hard work they put into their craft, but it’s there all the same. Gardening, cooking, publicizing, caring… any thing that I’ve admired about a person, I realize, is often the result of their own dedication. To think that their work is effortless would be to discredit their sweat.
And finally, in this olio, the last time I lost my temper and screamed was three months ago, and before that was another three months. (If that sounds like too much, trust me, it was worse before). In many ways, and thanks to feedback from my own parents, I’m moving towards being an authoritative parent (and not an authoritarian), even when I’m stressed and frustrated.
Actually, there’s one more thing. Recognizing and being happy with my own progress is in itself a change. I still recall saying in my small group last October that I found it very hard to admit anything good about myself. In the uncertainty around motherhood, changing careers, and whatnot, I think not being able to see any positive in myself was just the end of the road in being hard on myself. Since that low point, though, I’ve certainly made strides away from an unreasonable self-critic to one who lives with a lot more joy and hope. As I reflect on how many changes have happened this year, I am increasingly convinced that the great catalyst in all this has been because, at the end of October, a friend invited me to a reading plan where we’d cover the Bible in a year.
It’s not new. I’ve read through the Bible before when I was younger, but what strikes me is that the more in-depth I read the Bible, and the more in context I read (I mean understanding it in its historical and cultural contexts as well as its applications to today), the more value I find in it as a whole. This gulping down of Scripture has challenged my understanding of my own faith, and by extension many other parts of my life as well.
“Read the Bible,” some have advised, “like drinking beer, not sipping wine” (p. 130).Wright, N.T. (2005). Scripture and the authority of God: How to read the Bible today. Harper Collins Publishers.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:16-17. NIV.
More on this topic to come, especially with the lessons I was surprised to find in books like 1 Chronicles and Job, ha.