Wednesday’s prompt: What you were doing this time last year

This time two years ago I was forgetting my brother Samuel’s birthday. I have the best brother. I love him to death and don’t tell him enough. In 2014 I don’t feel that I was the best sister. I didn’t go to one single football game of his, had to be told about the fact that he’d made the grand final by my friend Jethro, and then I forgot his birthday. It was 9pm before I remembered. This morning I sent him a text at 6:28am, still trying to make up for two years ago.

Looking at the texts, I compared my word count (60, exactly) to Samuel’s (two – I counted twice). That pretty much sums up our relationship. I’ve always been chatty and, despite being a man of few words, Samuel’s always shown me grace. We may not have the longest conversations, but I know he’d always have my back and I would do anything for that man.

However, the prompt did say last year, not two years ago, so I looked back on my journal and found that I was experiencing creative blocks a year ago. I remember Samuel and my older sister Hayley helping me with my writer’s block throughout high school. I’d surrender my notebook (yes, I’m referring to actual pen and paper as opposed to a digital notebook) and receive it back five to 20 minutes later, to read their interpretation of the next bit of the story. Hayley’s stories would somehow always involve a lot of mythical creatures, while Samuel’s just consisted of a lot of fighting (as well as how South Africans say that word – farting). Surprisingly, these ridiculous and brilliant stories helped me to shake off my writer’s block and they’re a memory I love to think back on.

Again, I’ve digressed. I found a quote that I wrote down a year ago.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because the world needs people who have come alive.

-Gil Bailie

Often what Jesus has called you to is what you’re passionate about, and have some skill in. Pursue things that are life-giving.

A few months ago, as I was sorting through about 10 years of childhood memories in my parent’s house, I started to get sad as I came across books and books of drawings and watercolours, pages full of stories and poems and songs, albums full of photographs. None of them were anything spectacular, but the sheer volume of them show my passion. A passion that I felt like I had lost along the way, and was feeling somewhat hopeless of finding again.

My mum gave me some priceless words of wisdom that really helped me. She said that as a child we show a preference towards the things are we good at and have passion for. Having lots of time and not being able to go out very much, we express these things, often with more abandon than skill. Leaving school and going out into the world takes a lot of attention and energy. You’re learning how to be an adult and take care of yourself – function in the world and contribute to society (full time work is no cake walk at first).

Here comes the good bit. She said I’ve been doing this for the last four years (moving out of home, completing uni, paying rent and bills, learning to drive, moving countries and then towns again, starting full-time work and becoming a manager) but am coming to the end of that season. After an adjustment, coming-of-age period, our creativity resurfaces, but in a more mature, fully developed expression that will actually be of use to people (aka a painting that more than your mum thinks is beautiful, or writing that can be published).

So, despite the fact that they may metamorphasise and change as I grow, I now no longer fear that my passions will disappear. They are placed inside you and will not abandon you. They sometimes get buried, but are never lost.

My passions boil down to:
1. Connecting with God and people
2. Expressing, articulating, communicating and encouraging
3. Creating beauty

So to these things I’ll devote myself.

Sincerely,
Lil

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Image 1: http://www.nawicpnw.org/news/2015/9/22/thanks-for-the-memories-region-10-forum, sourced 27 April 2016.
Image 2: http://belimitless.com/gchahal/life/motivational/never-let-your-memories-be-greater-than-your-dreams, sourced 27 April 2016.

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Saying “That’s okay” and meaning it

Having grace for people is not always easy. We might as well admit it. For the person that cuts you off at the intersection, or cancels at the last minute again, or says something to you in that tone that you really hate. And I’m sure there are issues a lot bigger than this.

Personally, it’s a daily struggle. This week there have been numerous situations where I’ve had to show grace (or should I say the opportunity to show grace) and although I may have given the appearance of it, my heart attitude was all wrong. I said, “That’s okay,” but in my heart let anger build up. At some point we all say some version of “That’s okay/I’m fine etc,” because social rules don’t really allow us to just lose it (at least not in front of anyone).

The truth is that we can’t control the actions of those around us. We can only control what we do. And being a sensitive person, despite struggling with the way people respond sometimes, it is important to learn how to not let this affect you so much.

Three things that help you to be gracious in a frustrating or hurtful situation are:

1) Making a genuine effort to see the situation from the other person’s point of view

2) Listening to people and considering other underlying issues that could be producing this behaviour (people aren’t usually mean for nothing!)

3) Giving people the benefit of the doubt

If you’ve ever been the one in the wrong, which way would you prefer someone to respond to you: graciousness or unkindness? It comes back to the age-old rule of “Treat others like you would like to be treated.”

And I know when I screw up, I much rather be shown grace.

Sincerely, Lil

Sources:

http://www.wikihow.com/Be-Gracious

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4005/10-Ways-to-Be-More-Gracious.html

Luke 63:31 The Bible