Tag Archives: reflection

Surviving the Soreness of the Soul

There is an indication our body gives when we stretch its capabilities and test its limits. We generally call this “being sore”. And today, on my last free day in my otherwise busy schedule for the next three weeks, I realized this soreness is not limited to our physical bodies alone.

 

It is easy to get so caught up in life’s busy-ness that we never take a moment to sit down and consider what has been happening to us and within us. While I did not necessarily plan for this to happen, I had several days off last week from subbing and I took the opportunity to rest, reflect, and read; all things I haven’t done much of for some time. Granted, one could argue that my last four posts were all reflections, but those were merely trivial compared to the introspective soul-searching I’ve done over the past few days. This internal pilgrimage had me revisiting many of the lessons God has taught me over the past year, facing old temptations, and anchoring new knowledge to a more secure place in my life. And as I wandered through this mental landscape, I felt a heaviness deep within, one not of sorrow or pain, but of exhaustion. I had become spiritually sore, having stretched and spurred my soul to grow in ways only God could have planned, and now I finally feel the aches of this maturity. Yet it is a weight I gladly bear, for I know the fruits of this labor are eternal and good, but must also be guarded and tended to like precious life on a barren wasteland.

 

As much as I would like to divulge every detail of my journey over the past year, I am still not yet finished with my journey of self-reflection and therefore cannot begin to highlight the stops and strongholds that littered this winding path. There is much uncertainty beyond the horizon and yet I feel a fierce dedication to what lies beneath the setting sun, knowing that each new day is an opportunity for growth: physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. And I readily welcome any traveler of this mortal plane who wishes to come alongside me and share their story to do so, as a life of experience has taught me that good company makes even the roughest road a smoother ride. And remember, the aches of life, whether physical, spiritual, emotional, or mental, are not merely times of unnecessary suffering but rather a sign of growth to come and maturity through experience waiting to happen. Cheers and God bless friends.

 

 

S.D.G.

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A Temporary 4th Down and Goal

I was almost tempted to walk out of the school today with my arms outstretched in a symbol of triumph. But honestly, that level of personal fanfare would have been in highly egregious taste. All things considered, this final week of this temporary substitution assignment went well. The students (well most of them) seemed disappointed that I would be done after Friday, though I wonder how many of them just weren’t friendly with the original teacher. But that really isn’t my concern, I put in a solid month in the classroom as I was asked and hopefully the students learned a thing or two. And the experience will look good on my resume and I should have a decent reference from the school in the future. Now on to the daily reflections:

 

Day 16-

In some ways I hate Mondays (as I should, being a self-proclaimed Garfieldian) but in others I look forward to them. Often, the students are more subdued because of their weekend wariness and generally less disruptive. However, I am also just as tired and can drag my feet for most of the day. I told all of my Science classes why the previous week had been so packed with activities and assignments, and many of them seems to acknowledge the reasons and accept the explanation as a form of apology for working them so hard. I still have an underlying problem of disrespect from some students, and sadly many of these students I have in more than one class. I actually busted out the “coach” voice to silence my 7th period. Many of the students seemed astonished that I could be so loud, or project my voice so well. As middle schoolers, they usually don’t realize how long they are being until you raise the volume one step further. I don’t like yelling at anyone, much less students, but sometimes you need to be a drill sergeant to get respect. The thought crossed my mind today that I might be very disappointed if I need to come back after Spring Break is over, even though that two week break would be nice either way.

Day 17-

Today was a whirlwind. I had two boys get into a scuffle (some might call it a fight, but there was little real aggression involved) during my 2nd period which quickly resulted in a bloody nose. Both boys spent the day in the office but I doubt either felt sorry for what transpired. Even if they were just goofing around, as soon as there’s blood it’s gone too far. My Science classes did an activity with sugar cubes and although they struggled to keep track of all 64 given to them per bag, I don’t believe anyone ate one. Which to be honest would have been rather disgusting because the sugar cubes have been handled by who knows how many grubby hands and picked up unknown bacteria from the table surfaces. I had a girl (one who has never show me respect and obviously doesn’t like me) mouth off to me in Math Lab, so I wrote her up and sent her to the office. Her attitude isn’t likely to change or improve, but I drew a line and she crossed it. And probably not for the last time…

Day 18-

The home stretch is within sight! With only three days left, I can feel a change in my spirit and attitude towards each class. On one hand, the students are starting to anticipate Spring Break and getting antsy and on the other, I’m ready to get back to the crazy life of a day-to-day sub. Most of the classes this week have been fairly low-key and the Science classes are keeping pace with the content I had planned for the week. I’ve hung the “carrot” of a fun day on Friday to encourage them to stay focused on taking notes and completing their work, but there are still students falling behind on their homework. My PLTW class is been very enjoyable to teach and so far I have been impressed with their Invention presentations. One student is a little behind but he also missed the first day the class had to work on their presentations. The Math Labs are basically a study hall as the new students only received their logins today and the rest of the students have kinda burnt out. As long as they are doing something productive and not running around the room like animals, I’m content to play monitor. This also gives me extra time to grade and even read. Since grading and planning have been minimal for this week, I should be able to wrap up the week pretty quick. I’ve warned the students that any missing work not turned in before Spring Break could result in a zero, but what I didn’t tell them is that not doing the work would also mean they’d miss out on the “Funday” Friday. And to be honest, I don’t want to leave a lot of missing work for the returning teacher to track down as soon as she returns after Spring Break.

Day 19-

In most of my classes, today was the final day of actual instruction, except PLTW. Tomorrow will just be a fun day and I told students to feel free to bring in snacks or card games to play. I decided to make Friday a fun day partially because it will be my final day as their temporary sub and also it’ll be Spring Break and I really didn’t feel like planning another lesson. I really this makes me a little lazy but with all the late and missing work to track down, that gives me enough to worry about. It’s basically like pulling teeth with some of these students because, despite giving them the equivalent of lunch detention for more than one day, they still haven’t turned in much of their missing work. I’ve already written up one student for failing to do his homework and will probably write up a couple more before I leave the school tomorrow. I’m actually starting to look forward to not worrying about grading and missing work, as well as no longer having to deal with some of the poor attitudes and lack of responsibility some of these students have displayed.

Day 20-

Last day, last day, last day! As today is a “Fun day Friday”, I literally sat at my desk and read my book while students played card games or on laptops. Any student who had late work got sent to the library to work on it, and this realization seemed to motivate many of them to actually do the assignments. A couple students still dragged their feet and accomplished almost nothing, and these are the same students who have given me headaches the entirety of this temporary assignment. At least I can say I tried to get these students to do their homework but ultimately it is not my responsibility to make them do it. If they want to be defiant, then they must accept the consequence of a failing grade. I made use of my extra time to do all my grading and got the returning teacher caught up with each class’ progress and highlighted any special considerations (such as students who might give her trouble after Spring Break) before turning in my keys and leaving the building. The weather outside was absolutely perfect and matched the warm feeling I had walking away from what proved a challenging but enjoyable experience.

 

Well that wraps it up, unless something drastic happens to the returning teacher in the next two weeks that prevents her from returning and I’ll need to step back in. I’m praying that won’t happen, but I guess if it does then you lovely folks will get a bonus round! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed these reflections, and if this is the first of my posts you’ve read feel free to check out some of the older posts as well. Cheers!

 

 

S.D.G.

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A Commitment to Reflection

Something must be very wrong with me… I mean I go from writing three posts in as many years to three posts in one week! But really, this time I’m just popping in with an update and a preview. So I accepted a temporary substitute position at a nearby public school for their 7th grade science teacher and today I was in the classroom observing. Next week I’m on my own, doing something I feel wholly unprepared for. Honestly though, this position is perfect for me except for one thing: it’s science, which was my least favorite subject in college. So there’s some anxiety associated with this job, because it’s definitely outside my comfort zone and I feel like I have a good amount of “catching up” to do. But because these next few weeks might prove to be very interesting, I want to share my reflections with you all. So every Friday, until the regular teacher is off medical leave, I’m going to write a “week-in-review” post. Maybe they’ll be funny, maybe they’ll be difficult, and maybe they’ll just be perfect. So stay tuned!

S.D.G.

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Pulling an Irish Goodbye (or: How I Became a Master at the French Exit)

I told myself that when I started this “blog”, I would write something every month. That didn’t last. Then I was content with writing something every few months. Eventually that became one annual post reflecting on the past year. And then I thought I might renew my efforts at writing something every month as a New’s Years Resolution, but I decided against that. Finally I decided I’d do something very unlike me, I’d own up to the truth and then drop the mic (or just put it back on its stand and slink off to the shadows were I belong).

You see, I’m a creature of habit (as most humans are), but one particularly bad habit I have formed in my adult years is the Irish Goodbye. This refers to leaving a social gathering without letting anyone know or saying your farewells. Initially I told myself I did this because I hated goodbyes and generally I knew I’d see those people in the near future. But eventually I realized I just didn’t care to adhere to the social expectation that is saying goodbye. Yet selfishly, I make an effort to send everyone off with a farewell if I am hosting, or in a position of importance. And truthfully, it’s not fair. You see, I was actually thinking about letting this blog go, just let it sink into the endless waves of the internet’s information. But I realized I can’t do that, because I value this space too much. It has given me freedom to vent my thoughts, and sometimes my feelings, and allows those close to me opportunity to see into my otherwise hard to read mind. So as per my more recent routine, I felt an update is in order.

I’m not really sure how to start off reflecting on my 2016. I mean, a lot changed for me. Perhaps the biggest change was through the Transition to Teaching program. As I strove to obtain my teaching license, I had to “grow up” even more. Along the way I made some pretty dumb decisions, quit a good job to pursue a career in education, made many new friends and lost touch with some old, and watched friends and family get married. And by the time I finished with my student teaching in December, I felt like a totally different person, or at least with my place and direction in life. So many things were now open-ended I got lost in analyzing and imagining the possibilities. This, truth be told, is rarely a good thing for me. Having too much time on my hands to think usually leads to deep moods of melancholy and doubt, and honestly almost brought me here much, much sooner than I eventually arrived. And one reoccurring thought, that I oh so desperately wish to talk about, brought me here. But the truth is, I’m still too scared to be open about it. At least not publicly. I can say that if someone close to me asked what was on my mind considering the state of my romantic life, they’d get an earful. But maybe that’s really why I’m not pulling an Irish Goodbye this time, because I really just want someone to acknowledge me and ask me some genuinely direct questions. So you know what, if you have a personal relationship with me, ask me anything. You know where to find me.

 

S.D.G.

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Taking a Chance and Doubling Down…

Well I’m about to cheat my usual pattern and combine my end-of-the-year post with a little triage about getting older. If, for some reason, you came across this blog of mine through some other means than my Facebook page, it is worth mentioning that I am celebrating my 28th birthday today. And by celebrating I mean I went to work and watched soccer and ate dinner at my parents, which is basically the same thing I have done for the past couple years. Honestly, I never really cared much for a large celebration or party. This sentiment goes back to my position on socializing (refer to An Introspective Reflection and A Retrospective Inflection, as well as this post here, which might be helpful in understanding some of the topics to follow). However, in my ever waning efforts to provide some sort of progress in my writing frequency, and in honor of my double-down birthday (is that even a term? double golden sounded kinda lame), I shall list off fourteen things I have learned over the past year about myself.

#1 I’m getting old- Now I say this somewhat facetiously, as technically at 28 I have probably 2/3’s of my life still ahead of me but I’m really referring to the slow and sure loss of youthfulness. This is visually evident in my gradual loss of hair in sectors 3.8-4.2 (Men in Blazers nod). However I notice more often there are times were I just have no energy, despite wishing to be active or involved. I also notice more minor injuries and ailments, such as pulled muscles and headaches, things I would have never worried about 5 years ago. These signs of aging have prompted me to really consider what I want in my future, as being young forever does not feel like an option anymore.

#2 I’m still not a socialite- But believe me, there were times I really, really wanted to try. I made efforts to get more involved in my church, serving in the children’s ministry and on the setup crew. I joined a new small group and maintained a steady attendance in my young adults group. Yet I still never really became a social person. Even attempting to put serious effort into my dating life over the summer and continuing until now has not really changed me much. I’m still just as happy to stay home and relax on the couch or at my computer. And I’m not entirely sure if this is because people are just too complicated sometimes or I just get bored with how bland the average social interaction really is.

#3 I’m 99.95% sure I’m not a INTJ anymore- That is, assuming I ever was one in the first place. However, it does seem entirely likely that an arbitrary measuring system for personalities such as the MBTI is not one of definitive certainty. I may have been the cookie cutter INTJ at one point, but in all honesty I cannot help to think I’ve always been an INTP, with some very strong J tendencies, especially in realms of life I place more importance on. But across the board I am too casual and spontaneous to truly believe myself a true INTJ. There is also an argument to be made for being an intellectual ISTP, but I feel like I am more driven by competition than I am by wanting to be physically active.

#4 I’m kinda burnt out on weddings and engagements- Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still very happy for my friends and family that get engaged and then married, marriage is a good thing and even a Godly thing. But these sorts of events require time, energy, and resources, all things I have other uses for. Not to mention the general large crowd of people I vaguely know and have little interest in interacting with. Most of them I will rarely interact with outside of this event, so why should I waste my energy trying now? Of course this is an entirely anti-social outlook, but one I have readily embraced as part of my particular brand of introversion. However, it does now stand to reason that I may be falling behind the ball on the whole marriage thing, despite my better efforts, which I shall talk about next…

#5 I’m really, really bad at dating- Once again, let me clarify. My problem is not getting dates, or even always having bad ones, but rather I have a hard time surviving the initial dating period on route to a sustainable relationship. And I know this isn’t due to me necessarily being a hard person to interact with, I can be very conversational and strive to be a gentleman on every date. Yet I also have a difficult time making sure I am eye-to-eye with the person I am dating on the purpose and direction, and any attempt to solidify these topics usually comes across as heavy handed and all too serious. This lack of suavity in my speech when it comes to emotional topics is a side-effect of my position as an INTP, as emotions are rarely my first influence behind my thoughts or deeds. I want to know people at a deep and personal level, and unfortunately, most people in today’s dating culture are not expecting this level of intensity. Maybe my problem is that I have a tendency to flip the traditional pattern of relationships on its head, by seeking a deep connection up front and then spending lots of time together instead of vice versa. Small talk is fine and all, but it lacks substance, and substance is what I genuinely crave.

#6 I’m a very emotional person- I just don’t wear my emotions on my sleeve like the stereotypical emotional person. Rather my emotions are a deep, dark pool within, constantly boiling in fear and rage, sadness and joy, passion and apathy. Just because I choose not to display my emotions to everyone around me does not make me less emotional, I just prefer to keep my emotions hidden from all but a select few I intimately trust.

#7 I’m hooked on podcasts- Seriously, these things are crack in audio form. With an insane wealth of variety and knowledge available in the pod-verse, it is often hard for me to limit myself on what I decide to subscribe to. I do manage to keep in to a “small” list of a couple dozen I listen to regularly, ranging from trivia to history to comedy to culture to theology. The things I have learned from podcasts alone over the past year is perhaps more relevant than anything else I have learned since completing my undergrad.

#8 I’m still really “good” at procrastinating- Something about waiting until the last minute (or hour, or day) supercharges my creative juices and I can just crank out assignments and papers. Now I will admit this strategy does not really work well for testing, as I learned when taking my insurance tests a few years ago. And it might not always produce stellar marks, but rarely do I receive a grade woefully below expectation. My level of intelligence is still above average (if not higher than most) and therefore I have been blessed with success when I put in the work, albeit last minute.

#9 I’m still absolutely in love with soccer- If there is anything that has persisted about my character since childhood, it is my love of sports, but soccer primarily. I relish watching the game at all levels, and have even gone so far as to obtain my referee license and will continue to maintain it for years to come. I also have coached at the middle school level for three years, and while it is uncertain whether I will be able to do so next fall due to student teaching, I hope to continue to coach at the advanced levels for years to come. I also was able to play in a couple leagues again this year, and boy did I love it! I might not be in the shape I was in high school, but I still read the game as well as anyone. However, my love for soccer has it’s dark side. I will intentionally turn down or reject other obligations just to do a soccer-related activity. This has always had a negative effect on my spiritual life, usually in the lack of steady attendance at my church. And it’s not that I don’t like my church, far from it, I am absolutely overjoyed to be a part of this church and its community, but rather attending a church service is yet one in a long list of social outings that I struggle to put much emphasis on…

#10 I’m slowly becoming Reformed theologically- Now some of you might be shocked by this, believe me, looking back on this past year, I was not really expecting something like this to happen. If you had asked me at the start of the year what the biggest changes in my life would be, theologically would not have been high on my list. But this journey is largely in part to the Reformed Pubcast, which I started listening to around the beginning of this year, maybe late in the year past. What initially hooked me were the five solae: sola fide (by faith alone), sola gratia (by grace alone), solus christus (through Christ alone), sola scriptura (by Scripture alone), soli deo gloria (glory to God alone). I have even considered getting the five solae tattooed on my body at some point in the near futureInterestingly enough, many of you may remember I have been signing off each post with S.D.G. for some years now, perhaps this was the very beginning of my journey into Reformed Theology. Basically, to put these five solae into a statement about the nature of my salvation I would say this: I have been saved by grace (alone) through faith (alone) for God’s glory (alone) through Christ (alone) under the authority of Scripture (alone). A statement as simple as this has not only given me assurance of my salvation but has molded the shaping of my view of God’s sovereign and perfect will. However I still struggle with calling myself a full-blown Calvinist, as I am relatively new to this. To wrap my head around every logical argument will take time, but at the very least, I would consider myself Reformed and believe in a sovereign God who choose me to be one of his children.

#11 I’m still really bad at not spending money- However, I am very happy to be “debt” free (I say this because I am still racking up student loans). I have no credit card debt, I have paid for my vehicle fully, and I now have a nice cushion of emergency savings. However my outlook on finances have always been a rather relaxed one. To say I have always trusted God to provide for my needs financially might be putting it rather casually, but simply I do not worry about having riches and wealth. My aim is to have enough to provide a comfortable live for me and mine, and the rest is to use on others. To say I enjoy being generous is putting it bluntly, because I don’t simply give away my money and possessions, but rather I enjoy not having to worry about how much I am spending to do things with friends and family. My budgeting habits are loose, but at the same time I know when to pull the proverbial plug. To be honest, my greatest weakness when it comes to spending is games. I estimate about 5% of my income is spent on new games or gaming transactions annually. This may shock many people, but when your expenses are only for one person, you have a significant amount of “fun” money. Not saying it’s something to be proud of, I’m just being honest with everyone.

#12 I’m looking forward to becoming a teacher- As some of you are aware, I began a certification program to obtain my Secondary Education license in Historical Perspectives at the end of this past summer. This is something I have been looking forward to doing for a few years and after several mishaps along the way I have now begun this transition in my life. I still enjoy working with teenagers, despite the frequent reminders of how much of a nuisance they can be sometimes. Honestly I have found I have a harder time working with younger kids, probably due to the uncorraled amounts of energy they seem to possess while lacking an ounce of rational thought. It is the desire to share my passion for history with others that has led me to this field and this passion propels me to pursue success in my studies to become a full-licensed teacher. My only fear is that I will have to leave my comfort zone here, near family and friends, to get the teaching position I desire.

#13 I’m kinda over Facebook- I have recently come to the realization that besides a few groups/pages I follow and the handiness of FB Messenger to contact people I otherwise couldn’t, I have no reason to use Facebook. It does serve as a handy platform to obtain information and link articles of interest (like this blog, when I actually write posts) but beyond that Facebook has turned into a cesspool of bad tempers, faulty opinions, political rants, and social failure. Were it less than convenient to have Facebook, I would probably go so far as to delete my profile. I’ve slowly come to realize nothing good happens on Facebook, especially after 2 am.

#14 I’m still a huge nerd/geek- Let’s be honest fellow nerds and geeks, we’re being spoiled right now. The acceptance of our culture has become more and more mainstream and hip. Heck there’s a new Star Wars movie coming out this week! The abundance of superhero, futuristic, and fantasy television shows is just another indication of our gradual takeover of popular culture. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in full-swing and popular sci-fi series from the 80’s and 90’s are making resurgences. And one of my favorite authors (Orson Scott Card) is finishing up his latest series and, as always, it’s stellar. And I cannot wait to see how much better things will get in the future.

 

So there you have it, fourteen on the fourteenth for my twenty-eighth. Not a bad total, if I do say so myself. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a blessed New Year to all y’all!

 

S.D.G.

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A Touch of the Divine, A Taste of the Dastardly

There is a choice we all must make, one not easy nor simple. It often forces us to pit ourselves against that which defines us the most. Yet without a decision, we wander aimless through this forsaken plane…

Well then, now that I have your attention, I’m actually going to revert to a reflection on why I chose the title I did. It is, in fact, a summary of my past year. For I have been blessed in ways only God could have managed and faced off with situations that left a horrid after-taste. In fact, I’d go so far as to say my 2014 experience began and ended on sore notes, not really the way a year is supposed to. But who am I to judge what I deserve in this life?

So how do I chose to divide this year’s summation? Perhaps by simpler categories, such as physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So here goes:

Physically:

I made a conscious effort to get out more and take opportunities to be more active this past year. This involved not only getting back into playing Ultimate Frisbee on a weekly basis but also joining a couple different teams to play soccer in the local recreation league during the warmer months. I also continued my role as a Jr. High school coach for my high school alma mater in the fall and desire to do it again this year. However the common tendency of mine to avoid gyms (for introverted reasons and lack of motivation) during the colder months means my activity levels are slipping to near hibernation levels. Hopefully I will find my way to some pickup indoor soccer before warmer weather begins so I am in better shape for the summer season than in years past.

Emotionally:

Now this category is hard for me to discuss, largely because I am not an emotional person to begin with. However I can try to divide this into slightly simpler sections and divulge how each has unraveled over the past year. First I would like to start with the mental aspect of my emotions. My mental state has, as a whole, been significantly more stable over the past year than years prior, something I attribute to consistent full-time employment, a simple and efficient living arrangement and the inclusion into new and beneficial social circles. While I was not without my lapses into the irate or insane, these were mostly responses to a difficult situation and not a permanent funk. Second I would like to examine the inter-personal aspect of my emotions, or how I responded to events involving others around me. There were several couples within my circle of friends that had their first child this past year and while I was happy they are establishing families, I often had a twinge of solitude because I knew  this also meant my already small social circle would become significantly less involved. However I was blessed with new friends and rediscovered a couple old ones throughout the year. Yet the year ended on a sore note as shortly after the annual Christmas celebrations had ended, my father was rushed to the hospital with extreme pain in his right leg. I was able to visit him a couple days later before he was released to go home but it was still hard for me to witness him in that state, lying on a hospital bed. Here lay the man I often thought unbreakable growing up, yet at 55 he was bedridden by a pain that wrecked his body to the point of exhaustion. This mental image still haunts me days later…

Finally I must rant about the relational (romantic) aspect of my emotions. Now I readily admit this section may be heavily influenced by my present singleness and the lack of any measure of success on my part in the romantic sector over the past year. Just to name a few events (in no particular order): had a second chance with a girl I wronged and probably fucked it up again as she just shut me out after a couple months of tentative friendship, got friend-zoned at least once, had the girl who broke my heart a few years back message me with an apology I never thought I wanted to hear, finally apologized to my high school sweetheart with whom I unceremoniously ended things because I wasn’t ready for the responsibilities a serious relationship led to, and got stood up by a date I met online (yeah, probably not the best place to be looking but, you know, single-guy problems). So yeah, despite almost everyone around my age in my immediate and extended family having been married or gotten engaged by now, I’m still (and perhaps hopelessly) single. Which leads me to wonder, am I really that bad at relationships or am not worthy of one? I know I can be a hard person to get to know, given that I tend to avoid emotional responses and cannot for the life of me put my emotions into speech and therefore act based on a logical progression of idealistic thoughts. Or maybe it is my rather unconventional ideal of romantic relationships and their progression, something I may detail in the future. But here is what I have going for me: I can cook, clean, perform basic auto-maintenance, have a fair understanding of financial responsibility, know how to care for a family (you learn things as an elder child in a large family), have a clean criminal and driving record, am athletic, smart, usually funny, and my worst addiction [sic] is Mountain Dew. I don’t know about everyone, but that pedigree seems pretty well-rounded and even desirable. Yet it would seem that my obstinate view of social conventions combined with my introverted tendencies make me unsuitable for any sort of romantic relationship. So I guess we shall see if the Sun only sets to rise later on or if I must continue to watch the Moon as a reminder of my solitary status.

Spiritually:

This category is perhaps the most improved as well as the bleakest, as I have hit tremendous highs in my spiritual walk as well as dug myself to terrible lows. Perhaps one of the greatest accomplishments (or gains, depending on who’s keeping score) is my involvement in a study on the meaning of Biblical Manhood. While I happened to be the only single (and I believe the youngest) man of the group, I learned significant things about myself, my heritage, and my role as a man. I overcame wounds of my upbringing, established my desired path as a masculine leader, and rekindled the connection with my Eternal Father I had let slide in months before. However the Enemy strikes when we are at our brightest and I fell victim to my passions of game and sport, sacrificing fellowship with believers for the dim glow of a TV screen as I reveled in the competitive football of Barclay’s Premier League and EUFA Championship. Slowly in recent months I have drawn the line between necessity and privilege and am endeavoring to maintain a balance I can be without guilt. I have also grown as I have volunteered my knowledge with the men at my place of employment during our weekly devotions. When I am in “educator” mode, I tend to out-perform my intentions and overcome the limitations of my usual introversion. It is almost as if having a message to deliver gives me an unusual sense of purpose and social presence. It is because of times like these I wonder if I would be better suited for a profession involving instruction or education, despite my usual aversion towards public speaking.

In conclusion, if I had to put a value on the quality of my past year, it would be better than the year before but still a part of an ongoing process of improvement. As I told my dad during my hospital visit, these past couple years have been good but there are moments within them I would be glad to forget, usually memories marred by my own stupidity or social awkwardness. But if I look back on my previous reflections from the beginning of last year (see A Retrospective Inflection and An Introspective Reflection) I would say I did accomplish what I said I wanted to. Perhaps not to a point of lasting results but definitely in ways I can reflect on and appreciate. So if I had to choose a resolution for this year, it would be to continue moving forward and not take anything for granted, for only God knows what the future may hold. Yet I will maintain my belief that things can, and will, be better if I set my eyes on Him, and place my feet where He leads.

S.D.G.

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