Here I am at the end of the first month of a new year and I don’t quite know what to do with that. I mean, who said February could be here already?
My natural inclination is to find out about other people: what are their plans, goals, dreams and hopes for this coming year? I ask how they plan to get there. I want to know how they will confront the old thought patterns that would set themselves up against change. I want to encourage growth and seeing dreams comes alive- in others.
My job as a school counselor, as a budding expressive arts therapist, makes these questions, these encouragements, an integral part of my everyday work. In so many ways and words I am asking the children,
“Don’t you know you are worth far more than just living? Can you see that you don’t have to live like everyone around you? Can’t you hear something inside of you telling you the dreams you have will unfold if you believe and work for them?”
And most importantly, “Do you understand that you are irreplaceable, valuable, lovable, wonderful and made for a purpose?”
This is my passion, this is my job, this is … not what I do for myself.
I am blessed to have an incredible supervisor on my journey to 3,000 hours to become a licensed therapist. She listens to the way I navigate through defining myself as a clinician, my heartbreak when the kids can’t see what I see in them, how devastated I am that 1st graders have a hard time saying positive/true things about themselves and believing those words. And, she also sees something I often ignore,
“Ms. Rachel, can you say true things about yourself and believe them?”
She gets me every time with that. I laugh, make a joke and try to ease into another conversation, but she remains tenderly firm (the way I would with the kids) that it is important for me to do this for myself.
You see, my mind has been trained to point out all that I have not accomplished, areas I can improve upon and the places I’ve just flat out messed up on.
Those things aren’t necessarily bad; they’re actually healthy in keeping one humble and moving forward when it is applied correctly. If it is coupled with celebrating accomplishments and allowing yourself to see the value of who you are, it can be a great way of continuing to shape growth and change.
But this isn’t how I use it nor is it the way it has been used on me. I judge myself and don’t allow myself to see any goodness in me because there is a part of me that honestly thinks,
“There is nothing good about me. How can there be good when I’ve messed up or I didn’t get everything completed or I could have done better.”
And simultaneously, I know the value of engaging in this process and I fight for others to do this for themselves. All the lessons and programs I create for the children I work with center around seeking for the lovely, pure, praiseworthy and admirable. I teach them the gift of learning to speak affirmations – truth – into their lives and those around them, yet I still become uncomfortable in doing this for myself.
The other night I asked a friend about hopes and expectations for this year. I listened intently and was excited for what could unfold this year in my friend’s life.
“So what about you? What are you expecting this year, Rach?”
Seriously? Why can’t people leave me alone?!
But I sat for a moment and I dared to dream out loud. I dared to speak out what my heart tells me early every morning. I risked telling what the river of tears cried on my pillow at night sings of.
As I spoke out what I saw God doing in my life, I found a strength and courage to declare what would be done, though I had not seen it yet. As I professed what God had already done in my life, I saw the possibility of what He could still yet do.
My encouragement for all of us is to live in expectation.
Think of the impossible and declare it as yours. Know that the Lord has plans for you, to keep you in His will, with your welfare in mind, with hope and a future in the works, with a purpose far greater than just your own gain.
As we are still in the beginning of this brand new year, begin to look forward to looking forward.
What can this year hold, if only you would just believe and moreover, what could this year hold if only you would just receive the goodness of His presence and glory?