Christmas and New Year’s have passed, and we have had a few weeks to re-adjust to life and learning and placements. The travelling, assignments and not seeing each other has been incredibly stressful for my husband and I, but we’ve got through it because we have also been incredibly blessed with these amazing opportunities – and, of course, with each other.
Back in the summer, I was accepted on to a course that I had previously applied for and been rejected, knocking my confidence quite a bit. At the time, I thought that I was just not meant to be on that course, and went on to struggle through jobs and volunteering placements as I grappled with my own self-esteem and where I thought I was meant to be. When I completed my Masters and then went on to work as a Support Worker, I really thought that I had wasted those years on study, even though I enjoyed what I was learning. There certainly is a lot of skill involved in Support Work, but not necessarily a degree!
Then we moved 350 miles away, and I decided to have another go at getting onto that course, as the profession had become a bit of an aspiration in recent years. Suddenly, all the things that I had believed to be a waste of time proved to be of great value – not only because I had some experience in work and dealing with set-backs in life, which of course made for an excellent interview topic, but also as a bank of resources which I can draw on for the coursework and profession itself.
One of the biggest lessons for me has been that nothing is ever wasted. Especially in regards to my faith, I believe that God can use anything for good. Often we can’t see that, because we don’t know what’s going to happen or how things could ever work out for good. And sometimes we forget that ‘good’ isn’t necessarily what we think it to be.
Having a job or a profession and a purpose can do so much towards an individual’s mental well being. So far, it’s been hard keeping up with assignments and placement and trying to figure out when and where I can see the husband, but it’s also given me an incentive to introduce some changes into my life.
Structure and routine are so important to achieving goals and reaching deadlines on time. So when I was given a happiness planner for Christmas, my life became a million times easier! I had already started a bullet journal, but the addition of the happiness planner forces me to develop a main focus for each day and reflect on the day’s positive outcomes. Although I already keep a gratitude list, I do find it hard to keep it up to date. Somehow, I find it a lot easier to complete each daily page in my happiness journal, then transfer the gratitudes to a single list which I use as a spirit booster when I am feeling low or stressed or alone. It helps to trigger memories that I forgot I had, and that in turn helps to boost my mood and value the blessings in my life.
Apart from indulging in my love of stationary, I decided I needed to introduce some exercise into my life. I have a really weak back and often suffer from ear aches caused by tense shoulders – usually from stress! My many attempts at running regularly have failed every time. It’s not something I enjoy and so it’s really hard to stick to, especially when my life and surroundings are constantly changing – it’s not always practical to run and during placement, I found I had no time anyway. I needed something that would improve my posture through strengthening my back – maybe release some of that internal stress, and nothing too strenuous please! I downloaded a yoga app and have been doing a session each day. Some days are easy, others feel like a proper work out, leaving me with sore muscles the next day. My inflexible ham strings have made it seem like a chore at times, but I do think it is strengthening my back and making me focus more on my breathing, which can only be good for relieving stress!
Finally, I’ve made a really big effort with my Bible reading this year. I had downloaded the ReadScripture App late last year and was already some books in. I love this app as it has each daily reading (a few chapters of a book and a Psalm), as well as videos that introduce each book and explain some of the more abstract concepts. But by the end of the year, I was behind! So with the beginning of the new year I decided to keep going, starting from where I had left off. I keep having to remind myself that if I am serious about my faith, reading provides an important connection to God. Some days feel like I am just reading words that have little application to me, but those times are of equal value as I learn more of God’s deeds and people’s actions. Again – no time is ever wasted; the understanding will come with the knowledge!
So this has been the beginning to my new year. Things are good because I have been given so much – we all have. Sometimes life is a struggle. I have days where I feel a great sadness without quite knowing why. But in context, it could be anything; the constant travelling about, the ‘aftermath’ of Christmas/ New Year’s; the stress of deadlines and changing social dynamics. Reminding myself of this means I can give myself some slack without forgetting to appreciate that behind all the stress is an opportunity to bless others and live more deeply.