“It’s not the experience that brings transformation, it’s our reflection upon our experience.”

Jan Johnson

For years I’ve been engaging in a practice of looking back before moving ahead. It started as a a post I shared at the end of every month and then transitioned to every season. We are doing our best around here, setting the intention to engage in reflection while also realizing we are all, in a way, relearning how to be people in the midst of countless transitions, questions, and reconsiderations.

This is the place once per quarter where I share my in-process considerations, not necessarily fully worked out narratives. You’re invited in on the journey. I reserve the right to change my mind.

Here are 8 things I’m learning in no particular order (some links used are affiliate links):

1. Eating out is a luxury and a gift.

It actually always has been a luxury and a gift, but this pandemic has taught me just how much. I used to take for granted the fact that we could forgo our at-home dinner plans and grab something out. Now, eating out is a rarity (Are they open? Do they have outdoor seating? Do they only do carry out?)

One of our favorite local places has outdoor seating and we took full advantage a couple of times this fall. A gift, every minute.

2. We need leaders who have a well-developed emotional intelligence.

A year ago I would have told you I am a fairly grounded person – integrated mind, body, spirit. But I’m here to tell you after this year I have a lot to learn about being at home in my body, about respecting my own intuition and emotional intelligence.

Take decision-making, for example. If we have a decision to make, most would encourage us to make a list, weigh pros and cons, find clarity of thought. When people make decisions they regret, we often say they “weren’t thinking straight” or “acted emotionally” — all negative connotations.

What about relational intelligence? Emotional maturity? Intuitive decision-making? Imagination and sensing?

Thinking is one form of intelligence, but it isn’t the only form. It’s good and needed but it also isn’t isolated. We need the heart and the body, too.

I’m not just making this up: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

It doesn’t say Love the Lord your God with all your thinking.

There is a kind of intelligence that moves beyond books, beyond test scores, beneath impressive resumes. Emotional intelligence is often overlooked or discounted (see: how we disqualify it by calling it “emotional” intelligence. As if regular intelligence doesn’t automatically include emotion.)

3. We belong to another King and another Kingdom.

With the US Presidential election now behind us, I’ve done a fair amount of reflecting about power, control, justice, and our longing to belong. Maybe you’ve done this, too.

I keep coming back to Kingdom language, and not in a condescending, dismissive kind of way we can sometimes see on the Internet ie: God is on the throne! (Yes, God is on the throne but God wasn’t on the ballot. We had to make a choice.)

More, I’m considering all the ways throughout history that people have wanted the benefits of the Kingdom (belonging, security, value, shalom) without the presence of the King.

4. Honor > Shame.

An obvious statement, it would seem. But one I have to keep learning. This has been a season of a lot of sadness for me personally. I’ve been tempted to carry some shame about that but I keep coming back to the true reality that no one has ever been shamed into freedom.

I’m doing my own work to honor the space I need for reflection, prayer, and healing. If you’re carrying sadness this season, I hope you’ll learn to do the same. I’m practicing this posture of honoring God by honoring the way God has made me to be in the world.

This is not easy, but it feels right.

5. We really needed the Pearsons this Fall.

This Is Us is one of a very few shows our whole family watches together and you guys. We’ve never needed Jack, Rebecca, and The Big Three like we did this season. (Not to mention everyone’s favorite Beth and Randall.)

6. Our five senses have a lot to teach us.

In September I hosted a five week series on our five senses on The Next Right Thing Podcast and loved every minute of it. What a rich experience it was for me to pay attention to details that often go overlooked! If you missed it, here are all 5 episodes in one place:

7. Growth happens outside your comfort zone.

This is not original to me, but it’s a phrase I keep repeating to myself this year. You might be nodding your head along with me, then I must be growing a LOT! When was the last time I was in my comfort zone?! I’ve been growing. And also grieving. You too?

8. Nail polish is for grown ups.

I’ve confessed before that I only wear black and white polish – usually white in summer, black in winter. The end. But during these quarantine times, I jumped on the Olive & June bandwagon just for kicks and found I enjoy the weekend routine of nail care. Who am I?! For me, the polish is great but I’m obsessed with the tools. Here’s a link to try them out! (That’s an affiliate link so I can get a free polish if you use it thank you for your service.)

This is what I know: Though the days of the old school blog link up are past, I still love having a community of people who value the art of reflection. Starting in January we’ll have a journal to use together (!!) but for now, I’d love to hear what you’re learning in the comments below or on Instagram using #wwlcommunity. I’m always glad you’re here.