Does Your Life Matter?

I just arrived home from our visa trip, which we decided to make into more than a typical duty-ridden-rush-around-to-make-the-most-of-it trip. And as I try to reflect while also looking forward to what needs to be done upon our return, I feel the light of peace that had enveloped me for much of the trip begin to dim like a London sky. So, I decided to stop for a moment to regain my bearings.

What made the trip special was leaving work behind and being with my family on the only vacation we have ever taken. Every other fun trip has been sandwiched for dear life between work, school, meetings, etc. But this trip was taken slow and fun and workless and for the most part unplugged. We went where we wanted to go and we planned based on us, it was truly a vacation. We were so glad that we listened to the advice of a wise couple, Don and Michelle, thank you guys!

Which brings me back to that reflecting. This trip taught me a lot about myself and about the other members of my family. Louis also shared with me that he learned a lot about me during this trip. One thing that we both learned about me is that I truly experience something through the reflecting and debriefing. When I am experiencing something very personal and/or emotional I need to take the time in the moment to internalize to myself, but then also need to reflect in discussion or journaling later. It is only in the reflecting that I can finally process.

Some time ago Louis and I went on a whirlwind layover trip to Washington DC. We went to the holocaust museum and when we left Louis commented that I seemed unaffected. I felt as though my being was being crushed by some of the things I saw and thought, but we had other things on the schedule like attending the Rally to Restore Sanity that afternoon, so I just stayed quiet. About a month later Louis and I had a movie date night (this was pre kids we saw a lot of movies back then just to get away), and he wanted to be sweet and see Tangled as a nice girly movie. I flipped out. I had been running away from trailers of this perfectly cute kids’ movie because of all that hair. I kept seeing the room where hair was piled up from all of the Holocaust victims being shaved. That and the Nazi method of judging hair color had me a wreck, which I now realize was partially from never having processed the trip (and also because Nazis were horrible and dehumanized people).

Now that I know this about myself in a concrete way, I am able to see how my life could be lived in joy and peace. Therefore, this anxiety I felt about returning here needs attention because that is not the life I am going to live.

On this trip several super stressful events happened, but I never lost my temper or even came close. I found myself not walking around worried or stressed. I was able to be in the moment and I loved it. I was exhausted, in pain, dealing with screaming kids, and hungry, all at once sometimes, but I kept my cool. That is the life I will keep living now that I am home.

Before leaving for Britain I thought my life was just going to keep on moving in the dim valley of baby blues turned depression forever. But no season sticks around forever, and I have seen another season while in the UK, so now I choose to seek it out more so that my life can be more than it has been. Starting with super positive self-talk, as you can see, I will take captive my thoughts and emotions.

I need to have an ideal, a paragon, to look at to recognize that I am meant to be more than the shark in the ocean that has to keep moving just to stay alive. I am more than the rocks that I love to collect just to look beautiful. I am more than the tree outside my window that cannot get out of the rain and the garbage covered ground to seek shelter. I am a human being who has goals in my life and aspirations for my life here in Lebanon. It is a rather new sensation to have dreams in my life.

What I have always had is goals. I knew that I was going to be in 1st grade, then 2nd grade then 3rd grade, etc. until 12th grade. Each year from 6th grade on I got to make a four year plan in which I could chart courses I might like to take. I did this all the way through college. In one class we charted a timeline of what our lives would look like and I wrote about getting married out of college, and not really knowing what adults do decided I would probably just stay in school, Masters, Doctorate. But at some point in all that planning and charting I lost the point and on looking back later I realized I never really had dreams.

This has left me feeling very empty at different times in my life. I felt strange and weird to not have dreams, so I would pretend I had dreams when asked, but the things I shared were never things that really got me excited or motivated. Once I began reshaping goals and routines for my life in the time around having kids I found out two important things:

FIRST: It is NOT STRANGE to have seasons of life when there just doesn’t seem to be a grand paragon ideal ahead. There are many times in many people’s lives when there is a season of feeling empty.

I learned that waiting is hard.

This season of waiting for Kyrie’s surgery, baby blues, and depression, has had its purposes. Some of which were things I was praying for God to teach me (be careful what you pray for, I suppose). I have trouble empathizing with people. Especially when people are pouring out about things that I have experienced. This is part of my inability to process without reflecting. Terrible things that happen can be hidden from my thoughts (sort of) by never talking about it, but when other people start talking about it from their own experience it bubbles up, and I don’t empathize because I didn’t recognize it was there. In this season of being homeless, homesick, waiting, insurance, there are so many relatable things happening and I have been forced to process them and talk about it a lot with insurance people, doctors, friends, family, etc. I prayed for empathy, and got a huge dose of it in the worst way.

SECOND: No matter what I like to do, no matter what excites me or what I am good at, it IS worth spending time on. So much of what has limited my dreaming is that I compared it with others’ dreams.

I need to seek out those aspirations that I have left hidden inside.

They have lain dormant without me giving them credence or voice, but I am finding that they are the very things God has called me to focus on doing. I love administration. I am in charge of Excel sheets and I love it! I also love routines. Which makes me good at tucking in the kids. Another thing that gets me fired up is typing and writing. I also like to clean with music playing so I can dance and sing. As I have joined the blogging community of other women, moms, twenty-somethings, missionaries, administrators, etc. I have seen other people with these passions and realized I am not alone!

Now that I have this new found understanding of myself I need to create an action plan to catapult this into seeing the joy and peace in the life I am living. So, here is what I am asking myself:

Where am I spending my time, thoughts, and resources?

The answer to these questions will show what matters to me. Then I can see if those things really matter, if my life really matters. Currently I know that not all the answers to these questions are ones I am happy to be spending myself on, but I know that I can adjust, edit, and live a life worthy of the calling God has put on my heart.

How about you? Please respond with your own reflection on your life in your own current season. Are you spending your time, thoughts, and resources on things that matter? Are you making your life matter?

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Author: Annie Liss

Currently a mother and a wife who loves reading. Formerly a middle school math teacher who kept too busy and stressed out to read. My husband and I are missionaries in Lebanon.

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