It was totally different than what I expected. We did not sit in a circle and hold hands. There was no candle lighting or hugging. Thankfully for me, it was all independent...no group projects or talking. There were nine stations.....each one designed for reflection and prayer. Whether you are religious or spiritual or like me and just trying love people like Jesus did and not screw up or none of it, several of these "activities", for lack of a better term, were quite helpful for reflection and growth. I will admit my husband was right. Yes, I said it. He was right. I wanted to give you a couple of highlights. I have paraphrased the actual activities and shortened them...Sorry Ben, if you read this. I also wanted to challenge you to sit down and try one or a couple of these....to stop and think about life....both your own, those that you affect, and otherwise.
Station 5: Choose a country on the map and place a small stick-it. Choose one that hasn't already been chosen. Pray for that country, it's leaders, government, people that live there, orphans in that country.
My first choice, Ethiopia, had been chosen. I sat for a minute thinking about all the countries...and then it hit me....the tiny sliver of Togo, Africa is where my friend Kelly is living. She was a resident with me during my intern year and has gone to Togo to serve as a doctor. She recently helped me with my HIV PowerPoint as this is something she is seeing regularly in West Africa.
Challenge: What country are you going to pray for this week? It does not have to be third world....I am pretty sure America could use it. If you pick one, leave a comment!
Station 7: Look at the verses and quotes already written on the wall. Which one speaks to you? Now, choose a couple new ones and write those on the papers to encourage others.
I chose the following to write on the wall as the ones "speaking" to me...for so many reasons:
"So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessings if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9
"Friendship is unnecessary like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value but gives value to survival." CS Lewis (from my last post)
"I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun as risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see." CS Lewis
Challenge: What verses or quotes are encouraging to you right now? Write them somewhere, share them with someone else, leave a comment here with them.
Station 2: Read these verses: Matthew 6:25-29 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these."
Write down your worries on the postcards provided. Pray for the perspective of the verses and try to realize our worries our temporary.
I sat there worried I would use all of the Post-It index cards. Seriously. Were there any left? I am not sure. I started listing and kept going (most of these are verbatim).... Marriage (am I good enough, attractive enough, domestic enough), finances (will we ever pay my student loans, will we ever buy a house, are we saving enough), Body image (I am not pretty, I am too fat, Does anyone see past me being overweight), Chernet's HIV (Will people not be our friends because of his HIV, Will we have children? Will he marry someone? Will he stay healthy?), Tedi (Will he grow into a good man? Does he know how much we love him? Are we loving him the right away?), Chernet (Is he happy? Am I parenting him as he needs? Will he attach to us?) , Job (Will I interview well? Where will I match? Do they really want me here? What if I screw it up?), Residency (Will I pass my boards next year? Am I doing a good job? Am I one of the best? What could I do better?), Friends (Am I giving enough? Am I a good friend? Do my friends know how much I care?), Family (Will I ever conceive? What will our family look like in five years? Can I be a good mom and do the job I want? Are my parents and sister okay?)
Now you see why I ran out of index cards. I worry a bit. And I tried
Challenge: Jot down your worries. Pray over them... ask a friend to do so.. Then pitch them.
Station 6: Take a sheet of paper and right down the titles you have in your life (wife, mother, sister, daughter, co-worker, committee member) Next to the words, pray about and then write down examples of how you can be a blessing to others in that area of your life.
A Couple of Mine (I won't include all of them because some of them are personal for the other people involved in mine):
Wife: Plan a monthly date with JT. Make an effort to domestic things I hate...laundry and such
Mommy: Spend one date day with each boy each month. Special rewards for good school behavior. More praise.
Parent of Kindergartens: send a note to the teachers in the boys's folders each week thanking them for their work
Mentee at work: thank those attendings that give their time to support and help me
Adoption Advocate: spend time with new families and be open and honest about the struggles
Friend: named specific friends I could do things for and bless
Challenge: List your titles and how you can bless people in each role. Let me know if I can do anything for you specifically.....or am not doing something I should be...
So that is a sampling of the 9 stations.... nine exercises. I hope someone gets something out of this...that someone will find it as helpful as me....as I continue to try improving.... and yes, I will say it again, JT was right.... I benefitted from going.