In an attempt to return to a more helpful headspace, I was recently encouraged to think about what my core values are. I have engaged with this question before and found it a beneficial exercise; seeing how my life choices reflect what I truely value and then how these choices impact my day to day life. With a spate of health challenges, both for myself and the family, and a growing problem with not being able to sleep…I was feeling at the edge of myself; fatigued and jangled. It’s when I’m feeling like this, when I reach desperation point, that I find it helpful to look for a way to break the cycle. This time, it was good to stop and revisit what I valued most and why.
So I began to think, “What do I value that I give my time, energy and resources to that reflects what I treasure?” I didn’t need to think too hard about this question… I value relationships. My relationship with God, my husband, my children, my family and my friends. I value people, therefore, I give the majority of my time, energy and resources to loving others and building relationships. I value relationships therefore, when relationships are hard, and loving others is hard, when others are hurting or when I am hurt by others, I am affected – mentally and physically. My natural response is to wrestle and worry about how to set things right; how to improve this relationship – desiring to forgive, show grace, let go and keep loving.
A friend of mine, once said in a sermon, “Love is inefficient.” This statement has always stuck with me…meaning loving others is never about loving on my terms and conditions. Loving others is costly at times and doesn’t always fit into the neat little box I would like to put it in. Loving others requires self-sacrifice.
My efficient self was becoming frustrated with my present circumstances. I was frustrated at how much time I was spending waiting for doctors, blood tests, scans and treatments. The amount of time spent on the road, driving to and from appointments and the length of time talking with health care professionals. All in the pursuit of caring for the health needs of my family. I saw all these things as an inconvenient interruption to other important tasks I wished I to be doing. I resented the fact that healthcare for my family was so time consuming. Yet…because I value people and their well being, (myself included in this) I naturally was going to do these things.
To raise resilient children, you have to be prepared to embrace the reality that fostering relationship with them will be costly (not just financially) and messy (literally and figuratively). They are not robots that you can program to operate a certain way. They are not clones of yourself; you may see yourself in them, and they in you, however they are unique individuals, growing up in a different world to the one you grew up in. And life has a habit of throwing us curve balls; things we never planned for or imagined could ever happen. To build that bridge between yourself and the other person may mean you have to sacrifice something else you value. For example: To build a bridge to my teenagers, often means chatting with them and hanging out at 9.30pm at night or even later. Not ideal for someone who values sleep and a quiet evening. However, sometimes I have to forgo that, to maintain my bridge into their world. My body clock and theirs are a little out of sync. ( I am also learning that to care for others, I must also care for myself. I do need good sleep to function well, therefore some nights I have to say goodnight early.)
As I have reflected on what I value most, I can’t help but think of Jesus and what he valued; how he lived his life and what his purpose was. He too, valued people. There are countless stories in the bible of many people who came to him with their sickness and their troubles. He could have seen them as an interruption, but he didn’t. He didn’t turn them away or get frustrated by their demands. He showed them love and healed many, he spoke with them and ate with them. Telling them the gospel (why he had come) and walking alongside them. All this was an intentional part of his journey towards the cross. He also recognised his need to be quiet with his Heavenly Father and to pray. Jesus is who I want to look to, when I think about how I want to live and what I want to value. In looking to Jesus, and rethinking why I do the things I do, my discouragement and frustration begins to pale.
I encourage you to ask yourself, “What do I value most?”