Sunday, January 10, 2010

shalom in the new year

The last part of 2009 was the busiest both David and I had been since we graduated from college. Hence, why I hardly blogged over the last three months--grad school had taken over most of my free time. I'm thoroughly enjoying the break I have until classes start up again the last week of January. During this break, I have had some time to process the introductory semester of my graduate program. There were many frustrations and many exciting educational epiphanies---at times I was learning new philosophies that would equip me to see the world in a new way and in other moments I found myself wondering if I had learned anything at all from
that night's class. I found that I had to adjust my expectations of what my program would be like. There is a lot of focus on learning through discussion and not necessarily from the professor lecturing on the material, which is completely different than my undergrad experience. However, I find that this kind of interactive learning style has caused the textbooks I read and the concepts I'm learning to resonate with me more. I could write a very long post on the new perspectives I have gained from just one of the textbooks that I read called "Privilege, Power, and Difference" by Allan Johnson but instead I will say that it is a must read for anyone who wants to know how to examine and challenge the systems of privilege that exist between themselves and others who are different from basically this includes everyone. Anyhow, I look forward to what my spring classes bring although I will admit that it will be hard to break away from being able to fill my free time with books (of my choosing), movies, and TV.

Speaking of how I spend my time, I have been convicted in various ways about how important it is to spend time on things that MATTER versus things that just waste away the minutes. First, I received an email in which the coordinator of a post-college church group talks about how distractions have taken a toll in her relationship with God and how she cannot find time to pray or read Scripture and yet finds plenty of time each day to browse around on Facebook. Hmmm....sounds familiar.

Secondly, I am reading Don Miller's new book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and he draws parallels between how living a life with purpose and meaning is similar to writing a good story. He goes on to say how "the world needs for us to write something better" in the story of our lives. He suggests that when we live a story, we are telling the people around us what we think is important and that most of us have settled for a story of just existing versus actually living.

Lastly, I heard a sermon this morning while visiting the church my brother attends in Santa Cruz. The pastor, Dan Kimball, began a new sermon series on "Shalom" and how to holistically live a life of peace and balance that Jesus offers us. He explained the view that while we tend to put spirituality as one of the many categories in our lives, that actually ALL aspects of our lives are spiritual and relate to our faith including career, relationships, finances, health, and how we spend our time. Therefore, this means that as much as possible, we need to try to find balance in all of these areas to fully experience the wholeness, peace, and harmony that is referred to as the "shalom" in the Bible. We will all need to work on finding balance in some areas more than others and after the sermon I found myself reflecting on the two main areas I'd like to "rebalance" in 2010: time management and health. I need to realize that most of the time, there truly are enough hours in the day to do what I need to do without staying up past midnight thus creating a cycle where I wake up exhausted and am perpetually late for everything. I may not do everything I want to do in a day (watch a movie, browse FaceBook, read random blogs) but in the 16-17 hours I'm awake, I can get the important stuff done (work, school, building friendships, building my marriage) and the other frivolous ways to spend time should not be a priority because while they are not bad, they don't actually help me experience the "shalom" that God gives freely if I am open to receiving it.

I hope to be mindful of this philosophy in 2010, especially because once I begin spring semester in a few weeks, I will need to live out this philosophy to stay sane. So to put words into action, I will end this blog post in order to go to bed to rest before a new day begins.

Final thought: this year is a blank page, what story will we tell in it?