“Doing things differently” sounds so much better than change, doesn’t it? Most of us are not fans of change and we often resist it to the bitter end. But, if we take a few steps back and commit to “doing things differently”, it may not seem as painful.
I’ve taken the summer off (a sabbath) from schoolwork and although I have my book-list, I have not read anything that is required for my next class (woo-hoo!). This summer, I’ve needed to practice what I’ve been learning rather than learn more about it and I also just needed to do things differently. For starters, I needed to not take myself so seriously. I have been in a mode of vocational discernment, trying to figure out what is next and where God is leading me. There are many definitions for “what” discernment is or looks like. But, for me, it has been a place of waiting and learning. It’s a place God has had me in for a while and I’m finally getting used to it. Just as I adjust to this place of waiting, things are starting to take shape. Isn’t that just how life goes?
Anyway, at the start of the summer, I declared it a summer of fiction and fun with the family. I can say that has been a success as I near the completion of the entire Harry Potter series! The summer has mostly been about family fun with our 7 year-old that has included camping trips and swimming in the lake. But, this week he is gone to visit my grandmother with his grandparents and I am taking this time of silence to go on retreat. So, the first thing I longed to do was write. Doing things differently this summer has shown me how much I’ve missed this time of reflection.
We often know that certain things in our life need to be done differently. We hear God’s little nudge or urge to make a change. Sometimes we give in and make drastic changes and sometimes we answer with small changes. But, I really believe that when God nudges us to do things differently, there is a reason for it. We can only ignore him for so long. I know that the spiritual formation tools I’ve been studying are to be shared with others. But, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with where to start, who to start with and when to start. Sometimes, it isn’t as hard as we make it. Here is what I have learned so far: I need to step back, look around me and simply start with myself by following God’s urge to do things differently.
I had the privilege of meeting with some amazing young women in our community who have the itch to “do things differently” this summer. They have volunteered this summer to learn and serve as "Project Collide". These girls have worshiped under a bridge with some of Nashville’s homeless community. They are definitely open to “doing things differently”.
Here is some of what impressed me most about those young women…they didn’t roll their eyes or mutter under their breath when I asked them to take a deep breath and get comfortable for a time of silence. They listened in silence as I shared a guided prayer with them. They were intrigued by the sand labyrinth I brought to share and wanted to know all about my hand crosses and stones and 10,000 Villages (a very cool store making global change). They were open to doing things differently. I might even dare to say that most of them are hungry for it. The next day I got an email asking about where some of the girls could go to visit a labyrinth. That isn’t the expected afternoon activity for teenage girls in our community, it’s doing things differently.
Yes, being different is hard and it often isn’t popular. Take a moment and think about expanding that box you’ve put around yourself, what could you do differently this week? And, I’m not talking about just the serious stuff. I went to Zumba for the first time last week (and if you know my dancing abilities) that was a good laugh for the spectators outside the workout room, but it was also fun. It was a good way for me to do something different!
Why is it that when we are looking to make a difference or find something more fulfilling in life we seek to change everything around us instead of changing ourselves?
Give yourself a spiritual, physical or mental workout this week. Yes, we are all busy. But make the time to do something different: go to church under a bridge or in a thrift store, try a new workout, give yourself a good laugh, memorize a scripture, walk a labyrinth, try a healthy new food, read a good book, create some art, go on retreat, worship with your eyes closed, pray out loud, sit in silence, volunteer your time, talents or resources and you may just find that there is great joy in doing things differently!
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson,
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC