I’ve been meaning to post something for a while, and I find it helpful at times to write down what has been inspiring me as of late – to share with you, and to help me to see the things that are informing what I am thinking about at the moment.
1. Doing things one at a time. I watched this TED talk with my boy, and the guy’s basic thesis is that when you commit to doing one thing at a time, you will inevitably become happier. In other words, we tend to do multiple things at once, or rush through something to get to the next thing. For example, jumping in and out of the shower as quick as possible in the morning so as to be able to quickly eat breakfast and begin the day’s work. If we would slow down and do one thing at a time, we will find greater enjoyment in individual activities and increased overall happiness. After watching this video, I thought I’d give “doing one thing at a time” a try, and it seriously worked! Once I stopped trying to do something just to get to the next thing, I found a lot more enjoyment in a way greater diversity of activities. Now, I consciously enjoy showers and meals, pay more attention to the benefits of many aspects of self care, including apartment cleaning, and actually notice people and things during commuting time – it has honestly been a great improvement to my overall joy.
2. Appreciating my personality. I am definitely an Achiever (this is something I originally discovered through a StrengthFinders assessment, and I commend it to you highly!). According to this test’s analysis:
Your Achiever theme helps explain your drive. Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by “every day” you mean every single day — workdays, weekends, vacations. No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied. Your relentless need for achievement might not be logical. It might not even be focused. But it will always be with you. As an Achiever you must learn to live with this whisper of discontent. It does have its benefits. It brings you the energy you need to work long hours without burning out. It is the jolt you can always count on to get you started on new tasks, new challenges. It is the power supply that causes you to set the pace and define the levels of productivity for your work group. It is the theme that keeps you moving.
While that assessment could seem negative, it is certainly an accurate assessment of the relief I feel when I am able to check things off lists. For a while, I was convinced that this was not one of my character traits, but since I started keeping a checklist of things to get done, I have felt so satisfied at the end of a day. For a person with this personality type, there is great joy in crossing things off lists.
3. Being intentional. A conversation with this one before the winter break really put an inspiration in my heart to be intentional about… everything! Particularly though, making time to spend with people (she wrote about what she had learned about intentionality here, and it really resonated with me). It’s not uncommon for me to tell people that “I’ll try to give you a call this week” or “Maybe we could get together sometime” and never really follow up. My conversation with this friend was simple, but basically she told me how making time for someone demonstrates their value. If you are able to pull out a calendar and make an actual date, do it! If someone texts you, text them back right away! Don’t put it off, because it will likely not happen and you and the person you’re communicating with will be disappointed.
4. Being willing to be trained to love. I used to be convinced that love must above all be natural. But then I was confused when my heart loved things that it wasn’t supposed to love, and also had bewildering mind-wrestling matches with Jeremiah 17:9 which reads, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” However, after watching James K.A. Smith’s talk, Culture as Liturgy (it’s 50 minutes, but seriously a must-see!), I am growing into a different take on things – what if we are truly lovers of what we have been shaped to love? Smith looks at how culture informs us and shapes us all the time, and that it also covertly shapes our loves. That is why there is such wisdom in liturgy and in repeatedly coming before God to be shaped by words and ancient stories. We need to be submerged in this stuff in order to love well.
5. Knowing this guy. He makes me giggle, he makes me think, and he helps me feel things. I am so thankful that he said hello to me at a bus stop last year (though we didn’t quite muster up the courage to add each other on Facebook until 3 weeks later). Recently, our conversations have touched on our desperate need for prayer, doing ministry with intentionality, and building relationships by going beyond the sharing of facts, to opinions and feelings. In a recent season of family turbulence, he has provided invaluable support and brought much comfort. I am very grateful for my love-friend.