I think it’s common for people to reflect on the year behind as a new one approaches, and it’s no different for me….
I went to a women’s retreat in April this past year through my church, which was scary for me. It involved talking to women. Ridiculous right? My history with significant female relationships in my life has been turbulent, so to say I was anxious about going was an understatement… but I went because there was a stir in my soul that told me to.
As part of the retreat we had time to pray, to think of one word that would reflect what we are/need(ing)to learn to practice, or to acknowledge in ourselves and write down on a wooden disc to take home with us. As I closed my eyes the phrase “be obedient” kept popping up. Like an annoying mosquito, I kept trying to swat it away for a few minutes, but it kept coming back. I didn’t want to write that down. I knew in that moment it would be a year of learning, challenges, maybe setbacks… damn it. It wouldn’t go away. I wrote it down begrudgingly. Ironic right? Here we go- “be obedient Autumn, write it down….”
Within a month I was thrown a major challenge at work- and was expected to handle it. So, I did. I survived, but there were weeks of sleepless nights, no eating, sky high anxiety, paperwork, etc…and then other major changes happening within my job as the last day of school approached. Literally up until the last day. Nothing I had asked for, but had to been asked to be obedient to. Okay.
In June I had a break. I listened to that still small voice tell me to take the summer off (normally I continue teaching in my room, but I said no for the first time in 9 years). It was the best summer I’ve ever had- camping with my boys, no agenda, spending valuable time with some of the dearest friends I could ask for (I had best friends that were women)!
Add to that a year of being told by the spirit that I need to be more open, more authentic with others…. I started a wellness journey, and am so f’ing proud of that. I have never been in such a healthy place physically as I was January-September. Mentally while I’ve been challenged, I’ve been growing. I’ve read more books on growth and development that have literally changed me for the better. I’m being better for my husband, my kids, my friends, but most of all, myself. I’ve continued to make lasting friendships with other women, that turns out have very similar struggles- I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to know that, had I not stepped out and practiced that obedience. I started going on social media and sharing my struggles, my celebrations , and had others reach out to say “me too!” “I had no idea, thanks for putting into words what I couldn’t for myself”.
During one of my physical challenges in September (a 30-32 hour, 200’ish mile relay with friends/coworkers), I started experiencing a lot of pain… and it didn’t stop when Ragnar (the race) was over.
My workouts slowly came to a halt as the pain continued to be steady and hard. Mentally, it sucked. But again, I had to practice listening to my body. Even doing yoga or stretching gave me such pain that I end up curled in a ball. I lost 15 pounds of muscle I worked hard for, I started sleeping 12-14 hours, I couldn’t play hide and seek with my boys after 5 minutes, because the jogging to a hiding place became excruciating…it has taken away my day to day fun with my boys, and I refuse to be ok with that.
In the past month I have had 3 ER visits, ridiculous amounts of bloodwork, and a colonoscopy, all telling me everything is fine. But my body and mind tell me otherwise. Obedience. Continue to listen and be obedient to my body- don’t push it to pain, but don’t give up on finding an answer..
I have yet another appointment tomorrow…. so to be continued.
All to be said… obedience has been my word this year. Not by choice, but by reflecting, praying, and realizing sometimes the things we don’t want to hear, are the very things we need to.
So. Reflection time friends…. whether it be this past year or this coming year. What is your word? What is your phrase that will lead you to learn, to grow, or to challenge yourself to be better than yesterday?
Whatever it is, lean in. I guarantee the benefits out-way the challenges or hardships. I also guarantee you are not alone….