I sit at my desk, beads of sweat rolling down my face. I hear the steady blast of large fans in the dayroom. My own fan moves the air in my room much more gently. The ketunk ketunk of the ping pong ball is an almost constant sound throughout the day and early night. Monotonous sounds. Dull, just as my life behind these walls. Each day, each night are always the same.
I know I must serve my time to pay for all the wrongs I have done, but Lord, let me use this time for good. Father, help me to see past the ordinary. Help me to recognize Your hand at work – yes, even in this prison. Help me to appreciate little things that I would otherwise not notice. Help me to take the time to stop to help someone in need. Make me stop to listen to a fellow prisoner who wants to talk.
Grant me eyes to see You in others, Lord, and ears to hear You speak. Let my words be loving words. Guide my feet to remain on the path that You have set, oh Lord. Protect me from the evil that surrounds me. Allow me, Lord, to live a life that is anything but ordinary.
I played hooky from blog-writing last week. That’s because I was focused on getting other things done prior to having eye surgery. I wanted to leave things neat and tidy at work…but I ran out of energy for anything else.
This week has been quite the contrast. I came home following the surgery and slept for three hours – compliments of the anesthetic. I have to use a lot of eye drops, and I can’t lift over 40 pounds. So, I have been taking advantage of the time to take care of miscellaneous projects and errands I don’t usually have time for, to read a little, and to watch some tv. What luxury! I haven’t had a vacation in a very long time, and it feels very good.
Why am I telling you this? Because I feel the need to tell you how important it is to SLOW DOWN. I needed the reminder. My friends will tell you that I am notorious for needing to always be busy, and for feeling that I must be productive. While there is nothing wrong with staying busy, or with feeling the need to accomplish something in the process, there is value in relaxation, too. Take a moment to sniff the fresh, almost springlike air. Even though there is still way too much snow on the ground, I am hearing more birds and there is just the tiniest hint that spring may not be too far away.
Take time to look around you. Observe. Take time to notice your surroundings. Take time for others – both to notice them, as well as to help where there is a need. We tend to take a great deal for granted – at least until we lose it. Right now, though my surgery went well, I am being inconvenienced by my eyes not matching the prescription in my glasses. This will, in time, be corrected, and I am grateful that I still have sight, but this has given me pause to consider those who have no sight. We spend our days going about our own routines barely appreciating all that we have. It is not until an arm or a leg is broken that we recognize the ease with which we used to do things.
Take time to smell the roses. Refresh your soul. Appreciate all that you have. Renew yourself. You are unique, and you have been given your very own set of talents to make your way in this world. What do you do well? Don’t ignore your abilities. Recognize them, use them, be grateful for them. They are unique to you. When you step back and appreciate, you will be refreshed. You will be invigorated, and you will have more energy to grow and serve as you go about your daily routine.
How easily we judge! We make judgments, literally, all day long. Sometimes they are about making a decision at work, sometimes they’re about people. Without even realizing it, we assess those we meet based on appearance, the way he or she talks, the person’s friends, and the things that they say. Too often, the focal point of our judgment is the least important one.
Doesn’t the bible say “Do not judge lest you be judged?”
Daily I encounter reactions – including my own – that are inappropriate. I think we need to learn to put first impressions aside. Then I think we need to take a deeper look at those we meet each day. It could be that the person who lashes out is the person who is hurting deep inside, and who has no one to listen. The quiet, apparently uninterested woman in the back of the room may be hoping beyond hope that someone will draw her from her shell and include her in a conversation. We should remember that, when we are in pain or simply not feeling well, we are often short with others.
While we can’t usually change the way a person behaves, we CAN work toward being more understanding towards it. Matthew 10:40 reads “He who receives you, receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” Each of us is a unique work of God’s creation. Let us strive to receive others more thoughtfully, and less judiciously – more as Christ receives us. How sad it would be if our friends could not look past the worst in us!
I was saddened recently to hear about the death of a former classmate. Sad, because I am the same age. Sad, because I’d had no contact with her since high school. Sad, because I realized I didn’t know her. Sad, because life is seems all too short these days.
These sentiments caused me to reflect on how the years have passed – accomplishments, disappointments, special people I have met…. The list goes on. But as I reflected further, I wondered if I knew “then” what I know now, would I have done better? Would I have tried to know her better? Would I have kept in touch? Would I have made much more of opportunities that crossed my path? Would I have chosen a different career? Would I have grown in different ways? Would my life have been fuller and richer?
I guess I can only speculate…and focus on today…for today is all I have, all I have ever had. There are no promises for tomorrow. I must live each day to the best of my ability. If I see a way to live my life in a better way, I must do it. I have only NOW to make a difference for the rest of my life. Regardless of past decisions, choices, relationships, career, it is my obligation to build upon all I have learned and to use it to make the world a better place. I must begin today for today is all I have.