Recently I read this quote by John Dewey: “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” Here are some of my recent reflections:
How should I respond when ongoing demands and tyrannical deadlines outweigh the available energy and mental/emotional equilibrium? I was asking that question recently – if indeed I had the energy even to ask. A tenacious sort of flu bug bit me and while I didn’t miss a day at school, I did miss quite a few beats.
I discovered anew that when my soul is too weary and drained, I can’t even hear my soul speak (another way of saying, I can’t hear the voice of the Shepherd). For example, when Saturday finally rolled around, I heralded it like a long lost friend. But I really wanted to go to a friend’s wedding and so managed to convince myself it would be OK to go. Only it wasn’t. A mere a day or two later, I looked back in amazement and asked, “Why in the world did I go?” The answer is that I was afraid of missing out, afraid of staying home alone and feeling lonely. I hadn’t even been sane enough to call someone to ask for advice. I’m learning again that my soul desperately needs the input of others.
Indeed, I felt broken for days. I survived the days at school, but could not function well. Yet, I heard whisperings insisting that broken bodies are not to be despised, that they too can be beautiful instruments.
A broken body presents a clear, strong invitation to walk in the strength of the Lord. Maybe it is more a mandate than an invitation. The day before that friend’s wedding, I was at school, but not feeling well. Many wedding visitors stopped in at school during the day. I felt like such a clod with hardly a smile to greet them. Then after school, an out of state friend stopped in for a visit. I was exhausted and had planned to hurriedly finish up and go home to take a nap before returning for our PTF that evening.
But my friend needed a listening ear and a touch of emotional care for her weary soul. From me? I had nothing to give. Broken body. Drained soul. A ticking clock and a pile of ungraded work. A cup completely empty. Yet, she was asking for something – something I did not have to give. I didn’t try to contrive something. I think now it was the mercy of God that I lacked even the energy to try to appear wise and helpful. I simply sat and listened. I heard a thought in my head. I said it aloud. A second thought followed which I also repeated to my friend. She listened and replied, “Betty, I feel hope as I talk to you.”
I knew it was not me. I had nothing to give. Without a doubt, it was the Lord. We both walked out of that room feeling encouraged. The whisperings became more audible and I recognized the words: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.” (II Corinthians 4:7).
I reflect and agree that broken bodies can be beautiful instruments of the Lord.
CONTRIBUTOR: Betty Yoder