Reflection Makes Our Lives Much Fuller
by Bruce Lininger, Ph. D.
Our lives in 2018 don’t offer us much time for reflection, as information and choices come at us so quickly, we can barely grasp the blessings of any given moment. Change is the one thing we can count on, and we best get used to the reality of it. We often miss essential aspects in our lives because of changes, and without reflection, we suffer in intimacy (with God and others), grief (essential in the midst of change), and leadership essentials.
Call it a “cultural faux pas” not making commitments for the sake of keeping our options open, but we miss out on the depth of emotion and health available to us in any given situation. Reflection is an essential aspect when dealing with the need for anchors in our lives. As Andy Stanley states, “We as Christians are at our best when we are personally growing in our intimacy with God, community with insiders, and influence with outsiders.” This balance of intimacy is impossible without the discipline of reflection.
The Apostle Paul shared in Romans 6 that one must know, consider and present yourself “dead to sin and alive unto Christ.” The difficulty I have found of late is that we conservative Christians take such joy in knowledge of theology, God, and the Bible, that we have the opposite impact God desires in our life — reflection leading to intimacy with Him. I may think I am succeeding in life, achieving such lofty outcomes, and even have all the outward markings of winning at life, but with this speeding chase of life, lived without the practice of reflection, we risk the symptoms of shallowness in all our relationships, knowing about, but never truly knowing or being known.
Working in two environments, one as a hospice chaplain and the other as a missionary to the business community, I find that reflection is also essential when dealing with people experiencing grief. Reflection is the pathway to walk beside grief, which wears many varieties and covers. Grief is individual, yet organizational, and is experienced in so many ways. It is most obvious when we lose a loved one, but in the marketplace, the grief in success is the same as grief in tragedy. Both involve change from what was, to the new normal of what now is. Without reflection, grief will disable you, whether in loss or in plenty; however one handles transitions often determines the joy we experience in life. Grief demands to be experienced, and as Kubler-Ross’ “Five Stages of Grief” recommends, take time to grieve (reflection), even in your triumphs.
I have heard the word “leadership” defined as taking initiative for the good of another. But without reflection upon your overarching “why,” you miss what is meant for good. God calls us to be intentional, to take the lead for the good of others. Interacting with people, I find leadership lived out through Paul’s reflection in I Corinthians 16 … “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”
Whatever experiences you find yourself in, the lowest of lows, or in a thriving environment experiencing growth, be prepared to practice the discipline of reflection — to know who you are, who you aren’t, and who you need. Practice healthy “self-care” and embrace intimacy and the emotions that flow from it, and ask the Lord to teach you what its source is. Lead yourself first.