Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reflections on Reflecting

Up to now, I’ve only been posting about life here at Bethany: our room, the buildings, a little history. But it’s not all hiking and tours and dinners. We are actually in classes covering a variety of topics such as how to read and interpret scripture, the theology of mission, racism, Dialogue-Based Education, and the spiritual dynamics behind fundraising for mission. A lot of these courses require self-reflection, and throughout this process, I’ve learned something about myself: I’m not a particularly self-reflective person. This is not to say that I don’t think about stuff. In fact, I think I can be an overly analytic person. I just don’t think about MYSELF that much.

This experience- moving to a new country and immersing myself in a new culture- it requires knowing yourself pretty well: your strengths, your weaknesses, your talents and skills, your desires, and most importantly, your needs. Knowing your needs- this falls squarely in the realm of self-care, a subject frequently discussed in social work circles: you won’t be able to help anyone if you yourself are falling apart. I appreciate the emphasis that has been put on this. We each need to know what we need; we might need to make some allowances and sacrifices, but there may be certain things that we need in order to function and thrive in our new environment. This doesn’t mean things such as high-speed internet, or perhaps cable; those are wants. Rather, it’s things like time alone, 8 hours of sleep, or community- the types of things that you need in order to stay sharp and well-adjusted. It will especially be important for the first months, when we might not be able to have much within our control and everything is cloaked in stress and confusion.

So the last few weeks have been a challenge in this respect, because in many ways, I don’t take the time to think about this type of stuff very much. In fact, I don’t tend to have much of an interest in doing so; I tend to roll along doing pretty good, so I don’t feel like I need to stop and dwell on anything for very long, However, I am being forced to do so, and that’s a good thing.

I can say that the overall experience here has been one of solid affirmation: neither Katie nor myself have any doubts that this where we are supposed to be. In fact, that has been one of the best aspects of this experience: when I put myself out there, when I really open up, the answers have been exactly what I needed to hear. This is not a case of simply having someone reinforce what I already think, but rather moments when I realize that ”I’m not alone! Other people think this way, too!” It’s connected with me in the way I view scripture, in the way I attempt to understand the world, and the way I try to live my faith. So I’m happy to be here, living the spirituality of the Maryknoll charism and growing in my faith. Some might say I'm as happy as a little field mouse in a bunch of flowers.


curtis K said...

I'm glad you are savoring the time ... those months at Bethany were some of the best of my life - Loved it.... it is great preparation for something much more beautiful and also much more difficult, enjoy the time. Our prayers are with you.

Sheba Joyce said...

you won’t be able to help anyone if you yourself are falling apart.

That's so true Chris. You're post spoke to me tonight. Lately, I'd been so caught up in being sad and longing for my life in MO that I was not giving to my staff here, the best of me. My prayers were mostly "help ME get through this" instead of "help me help THEM get through this".

Glad you're doing so well. Crazy proud of you both

It's late--forgive poor writing.

Jordan said...

rad Chris. inspiring to read about what you guys are doing. and self-care = good stuff.

wagsandpurrs said...

Another post that make me so proud of you!!