I’m watching a movie, “The Memory Book”. It’s really a nice story, and I’m enjoying it. I’ve tried to avoid sentimentality over the years, I’ve made some regretful choices and suffered quite a bit of heartache over the years. I know we can’t expect to live a life without pain, but looking back sometimes causes me to beat myself up over bad choices. This movie is telling my story, and facing decisions I’ve made is difficult.
It’s not all bad. I’ve often realized that the experiences I’ve had allow me to talk with students and other young people honestly, with a heart of caring. Because of the things I’ve walked through, I can speak from the heart to them, and hear them from my heart. It often means I cry for them after they leave, but I really love being able to communicate with them. I think it’s why I chose to teach high school, and often laugh when people ask me if teaching high school is like my previous occupation as an RN in the emergency department. In many ways it is, I never knew what was coming through the door both in the ED and in my classroom, emotions can run high in both places, and emergencies come in all sizes and shapes.
In reality, our lives build, one experience is the training ground for the next. We can plan all we care to, but there are no guarantees in life, only people, places, situations, and discussions that cause us to respond, react, and grow. Pain is a part of growing, and if we are willing to walk through it there is often a meaningful learning experience that occurs. After reading this blog post by Barbara Madden, I started thinking about many of the experiences I have had. By rights, I have many reasons to be mad at the world, and have acted that way at times. I have also cut myself off from friends and family because of the experiences I have had, believing that would keep me safe and far from any more painful experiences. It doesn’t work that way, and often in cutting ourselves off from the pain, we cut ourselves off from the joy that could be experienced.
Barbara said something that really hit home for me. “Grace prevailed”. At this point in my life, I am becoming wiser, thank goodness. I am beginning to realize that I can think I am creating my experiences or planning my life, but the reality is, there is a power greater than myself who is in charge and is steering the ship.
I believe that God has a plan for my life, and that there is no way I could design a better plan on my own. So, as we begin a new year, I’m focusing on paying more attention to the people, places, and events around me, and I will be looking for ways that “grace can prevail”. I’m grateful for grace in my life. On my own, I’m not very graceful or dignified, God gives me the ability to respond rather than react, when I choose to listen.
I will be praying that my ears remain open.