I feel like this blog might end up touching a few different
themes along the way, but hopefully you’re ready for the journey. As I start to
write this blog is currently unnamed, I hope by the end a clear theme has
emerged or at least a thread, especially as I have been waiting for something
to happen, a moment, that would help inspire and motivate me to write again.
Before I share about ‘the moment’ first a few insights to help give context and
honestly to help me join the dots.
The reason I have been waiting is because I was starting to
feel like inspiration wasn’t going to strike. ‘Write New Blog’ has been on my
ever growing To Do list for some time and I was starting to wonder if it would
become a permanent fixture. Just like that home décor project that we all have
that still awaits our attention and years later we simply accept it and even
come to enjoy it how it is, unfinished or at times not even started.
I’ve been worried that I would have to simply make something up to write about,
but quietly hoping and waiting for something to grab my attention, a
conversation to spark a certain type of interest or for a thought to lead me
somewhere deeper within myself.
Thankfully, God never disappoints and this time He made use of not one but two
seemingly ‘normal’ work meetings to speak to my heart.
First things first, I have put the word normal in inverted
commas intentionally, as part of this story is to share about how I have
recently been reminded that my normal really isn’t normal at all. Well for me
it is, but my point is that I needed the reminder that my life is anything but
normal. Now I have written the word and you have read the word normal far too
many times and it has started to lose all meaning and its significance has
perhaps shifted, but that’s the point. The concept of normality is far more
subjective than I have often given it credit for.
I can be quite self-critical and at times I put too much
pressure on myself to be a certain way or achieve certain goals and at times I
forget to be kind to myself. For example, last week when I became very
self-critical of my Spanish, I had perhaps forgotten that I had only just got
back after 3 months away and I had also just started a new job. One would think
I was a pro at transition by now, but I’m really not. Transition is always
challenging and I’m currently still in one of those adjustment periods.
Yet I forgot that when I allowed those critical thoughts in last week. I had a
Zoom call meeting with two lovely ladies who are mentors in the programme that
I am now helping to coordinate as part of my new role. We had a great
conversation together and I was able to learn about their experiences as
mentors and hear from them about what would be helpful for them moving
forwards. It really was a very positive interaction all round, yet after the
call I felt quite upset. I was just so frustrated with myself for not having
better Spanish. In the moment I struggled to reflect on and celebrate the
positives; all I could do was re-think everything I had said ‘wrong’ or not in
perfect Spanish. I remember just feeling exasperated and tired of the constant
challenge that living and working in a second language is. I threw myself a
pity party, thankfully I did not stay at the party too long, but I know I
should not have attended in the first place. The worst part is that absolutely
no one else was being critical of my Spanish, quite the opposite actually. More
than one person had complimented me on my Spanish and communication. We really
are our own worse critics, aren’t we? It is easy for me to see my own
irrational behaviour now, a week later, with hindsight, but at the time I was
deeply frustrated and upset. I was yet to see God’s gentle lesson that was
still to come to help me.
Back to the original point after you have hopefully enjoyed
a moment sharing in my fascinating thought process (tongue in cheek tone
It wasn’t until I had a second meeting with a married couple who are also
serving as mentors that I suddenly realised that I had been focusing on the
wrong things. I left this second meeting feeling excited and encouraged by what
the mentors had shared with me. More than that I felt inspired.
One moment specifically stands out to me, a moment I had been waiting for, a
moment to remind me why I am here, serving in Guatemala. During times of
transition and adjustment these moments are essential but I had not even
realised that I needed it. In truth I don’t think I had ever fully formed this
thought until now, that these moments of confirmation and inspiration really
help someone in my type of context and work. They help them to take stock and
remember why they do what they do or why they live where they live. Of course,
I have always known why I am here, but it really helps to have these more
day-to-day, almost ordinary moments that add to the reasons.
The exact moment was when the husband from the mentoring
couple shared in the most delicate and humble way about his experience of
realising that as a family they had made a mistake with one of the children out
of the sibling group that they mentor. They had been mentoring three siblings
for almost 7 years and over the years they have always celebrated with them on
the actual day of their birthdays. However, this year they had made plans to
take the younger two children out on a Sunday afternoon to celebrate their
birthdays together and do something special. So that is exactly what they did.
They celebrated their birthdays and had a very special time together and in
turn did not go to the children’s home on the actual date of the middle child’s
birthday. It’s my belief that most of us would have done the same without a
second thought. When they arrived for their next scheduled monthly visits, the
middle child was not happy. He was incredibly upset and disappointed and was
not behaving in the best way. He was being what most of us would consider to be
rude and he was making bad choices. After patiently waiting and asking he
eventually shared with them why, he was hurt that they had not come on his
birthday as they always had done in the past. His feelings were real and
honest. The husband went on to share with me that after a quick discussion with
his wife on how to respond they agreed that they had made a mistake and needed
to apologise and ask for forgiveness.
This brought tears to my eyes. Some of us would have perhaps told this child to
remember the special day we had celebrated together, or perhaps we would even
tell the child off for being ungrateful and try and justify ourselves by
turning the situation around on the child.
Instead a child who has already suffered various traumas in his life and has
experienced rejection and/or abandonment from adults, and even his own family,
was heard. His feelings were validated, and he was shown love and
understanding, this would have only increased confidence and trust between him
and his mentees. I was struck. God showed me that it is for moments like this
that I am here, moments where I can be stretched, challenged, humbled, and
inspired all at once.
When I sat down to write up notes from both the meetings,
I’ve mentioned above I realised something else, I had missed an opportunity in
the first meeting because I focussed on myself and my doubts instead of
listening to what God wanted to reveal or show me. I had let that self-critical
voice block out the positive things that happened and were shared in that first
meeting, and my Spanish was not necessarily worse or better in either meeting.
I am still unpacking what else I can take and learn from this experience, and I
am praising God for giving me a moment I had been waiting for without even
My aim is to be more open, more attentive, more teachable and expectant.