I just finished a nine-day round of the flu/lower respiratory tract infection. Over the last nine days I watched a lot of TV—good and fun stuff—the news, HGTV, The Food Network, and the Cooking Channel with a little Rachael Ray and Dr. Oz thrown in for balance. And oh, don’t forget the continual feed of commercials for the 2018 Olympics. I ended my couch captivity watching the Super Bowl last night.
You might not see the thread of commonality in these programs, but I did. All day long I watched others pursue their passions, do it really well, and experience fulfillment and success in doing so. It was easy for me to feel like everyone was successfully living their dreams, everyone but me. The longer I lay on the couch the more discouraged I became. I wanted to be living my life to the full.
By now you may be thinking—Get a grip! It’s only the flu! And you would be right. But what about the times you are sidelined? The times when you feel others are living their dream while you are in the cycle of work, laundry, chores, bills, kids, pets to the vet, etc. Social media does a great job of convincing us everyone is living large.
But in my time of recuperating, God wove one more common thread through my experience. I don’t know if everyone is like this, but for me if I don’t write something about my day or take a picture during the day, it’s like the day didn’t happen. So almost every evening I do some type of examen.* This practice helps me remember my day, meditate on what happened, how I feel about it, what I learned, or what God was trying to teach me. It is an important tool for my personal and spiritual growth.
Also I try to take at least one picture in each day. I follow a couple of photographers on social media. Their work inspires me to find the beauty in each of my days, not just the special vacations or family events. This practice, too, reminds me of how special each day is. It is truly a picture of how God showed up in my day.
Through each of these practices God reminds me that each day counts. Each day brings evidence of God’s presence and involvement in our lives. A few of those things while I was sick—
~The beauty of snow.
~A friend’s text inquiring how I was doing.
~A steamy pot of tea to soothe my sore throat.
~A lit candle that sounds like a gently burning fire.
Now that I am back to good health and real life, I am ready to pursue my life with excellence. No, it won’t be exciting enough for TV or amazing enough for any awards; but it will be me being all in with whatever I’m doing—
- Deepening my relationship with God and living out my faith.
- Pouring into my husband, kids (The Grand, too), and friends.
- Making our home a welcoming refuge and retreat for all who come on in.
- Sharing what God puts in me through writing and maybe a wee bit of photography.
Later this week the 2018 Olympics begin. I look forward to watching the athletes do what God put in them to do. But what I really love about the Olympics are the backstories of each athlete. It is their stories, not their performances, that inspire me. Their stories are woven together with the threads of many other stories. Stories of. . .
- Those who inspired them.
- The times they wanted to quit.
- Being sidelined because of an injury and starting almost at the beginning in physical therapy.
- How they overcame age, injury, disbelief from others, fatigue, time restraints, and many other obstacles.
- They tell of all they sacrificed and the sacrifices made by those they love them.
Their stories inspire me to be all in because each of my days counts. Strung together, one after the other, year after year—these are the legacy of my life. It’s not the “big” days that everyone claps for that will make a difference in the world or for God. It’s me living each day—all in, living all God gave me to live, and being the person He created me to be each day.
The Olympians didn’t get to the Olympics after a week or so of training. They got there after days, weeks, and then years of focusing on and living their sport. What we will see is the result of many days of work and perseverance strung together.
I want to make my life a legacy to God—of what God can do through one woman stringing together a lifetime of days lived for God.
*Here are a few prompts I choose from for my evening examen:
~What was life-giving to me today? What sucked the life out of me?
~Grateful today for. . .
~What gave me joy today?
~How did God surprise me today?
~What I did see, did do, and did make. (from The Lost Kitchen Cookbook by Erin French)
Also check out this blog for more prompts that help me process my day and be more self-aware.
Photo by Ylanite Koppens, courtesy of stocksnap.io.
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.