Two weeks ago today, Peter and I read the last essays from our professorial piles. We posted our students’ final semester grades. And we officially completed what we would call one of the longest school years of our lives. If you know our recent journey at all, you understand why.
Just a couple of days after we limped across that academic finish line, we packed up our car and left home for a much-needed vacation—a 2,000-mile road trip with stops in Kentucky for the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, Gatlinburg/Knoxville to enjoy the Smokies with family, the Historic Triangle to engage with some living history. And now I am writing to you from Washington, D.C.—our final major stop before we make the long drive home.
Of course, every place we’ve visited has been beautiful and interesting. We’ve learned a lot, relaxed (probably not enough), reconnected with friends along the way, and made many more memories as a family.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge the special healing properties of so many long hours spent behind the wheel of our Kia Soul—especially those precious, quiet miles when the kids are asleep, and Peter and I can just talk and think and reflect.
I’m a big believer in reflection—that important and intentional practice of pausing after any particular event—both the significant and the mundane.
Too often, our natural inclination is to rush on to the next thing. The momentum of life propels us forward, and we just keep going. We may be wounded, dazed, confused, or numb, but we press ahead.
Alternatively, when we reflect, we stop. We take a minute to breathe. We force ourselves to look back and assess the meaning of the experience before we move on. We begin to process the thoughts and the emotions involved. And we ask essential questions, such as:
- What happened?
- Who was affected?
- How did we respond?
- Where did we do well?
- When did we fall short?
- Do we understand why?
- What right and wrong thinking was revealed?
- What emotions were felt?
- What triggers were poked?
- What healing needs to happen?
- How are we changed?
- In what ways do we need to grow?
- What new processes or support do we need to put into place?
- What, if anything, do we need to do differently?
- And where do we see God’s hand in all of it?
- What have we learned about Him?
Earlier this week, I tried to write a little blog post about our answers to some of these questions and what we’ve learned this year. But the piece was getting way too long.
So…ta-da…I’m turning it into a summer blog series.
Join me here over the next several weeks as I share “Lessons from Our Long Year.” And I pray that it will encourage you to engage in some meaningful summer reflection of your own.