Being My Best Self

One of the phrases I’ve overheard myself saying a lot to myself and friends lately is “there’s not one of us at our best self right now”. What do I mean by that statement you might ask? We’ve all just spent the last 4 months experiencing things that most of us have never experienced before. I’ve never experienced a pandemic with a novel virus in my lifetime. I’ve never had to oversee eLearning of my children while the church office is at my kitchen table. I’ve never had a major surgery and not had any of the standard post op checkups to make sure all is well, and I’ve certainly never witnessed a man being suffocated by another human being on video as he begged for his life. Protests, riots, shootings…the list goes on and on. All of this has given me all the feels and I definitely have the time right now to sit in those feelings and process them. A whole lot of sadness tempered with anxiety. So much pain and suffering on so many levels. My friends have too. Conversations with my friends and my family show me that they too are having similar emotions and have had trials in their households and relationships. That’s when I say, “there isn’t one of us at our best self right now…”

 

So what are we to do in the midst of the times where we are experiencing such pain, sadness, and anxiety, when we are not at our best selves right now?

 

*Try and respond instead of react to everything. This takes intentionality, patience, and time. It’s so easy to blurt out your first thought or emotion or to hit post with your initial comeback, but pause, pray, reflect and decide what kind of a witness you want to show. Others are watching. If your first response is anger, ask yourself, “why am I so angry about this? Let Jesus be our lead on how we are to handle others and ask for the Holy Spirit to give us the right spirit in how we respond to others. The four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are great places to get a glimpse of how Jesus responded to others.

 

*Take time to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and reactions rather than focus on the other person. I say this not to encourage narcissism, but instead to get us to focus on what needs adjusted about ourselves. It’s easy to shift focus on the other person’s weaknesses instead of looking at the issues within ourselves. Start asking WHY? Why does what my spouse has said get me so bent out of shape? Why does that person’s post make me so angry? In the field of mental health where I spent my career, we are taught to ask the question, “What is that really about?” I’ve had to ask these questions on a much more personal level when I’ve been in a personal crisis. Being able to reflect on this question helps me to see if my emotions and thoughts are really in check. Can I consider another view? Can I change my mind about something? Is what I think? Is my mind a reflection of Christ? Or are they old patterns and thoughts I’ve been taught? You can still love your parents, family, and friends and acknowledge that they have taught you something contrary to Christ’s values along the way. These are questions that help me muddle through my own personal chaos and struggles.

 
 

*Take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. This is hard for me to do, but I have to constantly set myself up for success when it comes to self-care. Am I eating things that will help my body heal? Am I getting in my steps for the day? Do I get enough sleep? Do I need to see a professional about anxiety? I know what I’m supposed to do, but doing it is another thing. Have I used my time wisely in this area or as Tony likes to say “let the COVID19 turn into the 19 pound quarantine?” Recently, I’ve been giving myself permission to sit on my back porch and relax while I listen to the birds. This small thing alone has helped me be my better self.

 

*Stay in love with Jesus. Being my best self cannot happen when I’m disconnected from Jesus. It just can’t. My end goal is to be like Him. This encompasses so much for me. I’m a much better version of myself when I love Jesus and let Him shape me into the person He desires me to be. Right now online worship, prayer, study, and meditation are practices I rely on heavily. I pray for God’s wisdom daily and then I try to lean in to it. I ask for courage to act on what God tells me to do. When I say study, I mean specifically the reading of scripture. I see so many Christians only want to read books, but for me, scripture is the goal. With the Holy Spirit as the shaping force, I try and apply what the Creator of the Universe has shown me in the sacred texts. I’ve grown tired of hearing what this radio, TV commentator, or author has to say about what’s going on around me. I can gain real peace when I read scripture and realize that God’s wisdom is the real treasure. When it comes down to it, what God thinks is what I need to focus on. Not an opinionated bully on Facebook. God’s Spirit is also the force that can ensure that I’m not the bully on Facebook. His Spirit can also make sure I’m loving my family well and that I’m having the hard discussions with them during this unprecedented time and that those conversations point them to Him. My life as a clergy spouse allows me the Holy privilege to speak into the personal pain and circumstances of others. Personal pain is at an all-time high right now. Relationships are broken and so many are hurting right now. I want to speak God’s grace and truth. I want to point them to the author and finisher of their faith. I want to model to others the gift of grace in these hard times. Our connection to Jesus is really the only way I see through the messes because striving to be like Him is the only way any of us can truly be our best self.

 

“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that.” Ephesians 5:1-2 the MSG

 

Love extravagantly,

Rhonda

 

 

 

 


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