I used to be so possessive of titles, of status and identifying labels. I held those abstract things so tightly. For example I remember being proud of the exclusivity of being on the dive team. How amazing is the work we do, how above-and-beyond an already unique and selfless life calling. Well I can’t totally deny that, but man, how embarrassing now to think back on how much I let that fill me. I genuinely just enjoyed it for all that it is (the hard work but also the fun and sense of achievement) but I most definitely did also get caught up in the woah and impress of it. Also, being a physio is a really great job. It’s a noble profession seen by most people as a respectable and attractive way to earn a living. I get to “play” with kids in a therapeutic way that helps make them become functioning human beings. I help people become pain free and in a very paradoxical way also manage to make people feel and do better by afflicting them. All things considering, I have stepped boldly into the protective identity that being a physio on this ship has brought. It’s most definitely a powerful vehicle to carry out care, compassion, changed lives… It’s not the only way but I sure did let it become a very important way in my eyes.
Through a series of learning curves in the past year and a half I can say with conviction that I am well aware that I need to refocus my heart. It is wonderful to be able to do all these things, and more. But let me not for one moment find the justification for who I am in them. I’m not a better version of myself because I search and recover dirty ship grates. I am not a better person because I do physio on neglected children in West Africa or because I roll with the cool kids. I am not more important, or more loved, or more special now than I was 6 years ago sitting behind a desk in a dead-end corporate job and less so because I now have successful. well-adjusted friends. That’s just what the world tells me.
Let me explain: It’s been a combination of waxing and waning friendships, the hard-drilled theory and tedious practice of empowering primary health care workers with knowledge to out-do myself of a job; and it’s been the gentle but hurtful truths from trustees about stepping off my “self-train”, that’s guided my thoughts. My beliefs followed suit.
Only by holding a friendship so tightly that when it started to change and strain did I realise I held onto the way it validated me too tightly; and even more so, I realised that I should not be validated by another person’s opinion or love for me. That’s REALLY hard to not let happen when you love that person with the deepest part of your heart. Two people who really challenge me (with their character and choice of words) were added to our team of scuba stars and I distinctly remember feeling self-righteous and bitter because somehow they threatened me by being a part of what I held so tightly onto. Oh, the blinding light of perspective. I can laugh at the bizarreness of it now thanks to the humble journey of knowing that that was unhealthy and seeking the truth instead. I really like to get my hands in there and do the work. It gives me great satisfaction to get my hands full of plaster or to see a task done thoroughly and with care. So I like to do it. But when this world needs more skilled people, more leaders, more initiators; standing back and facilitating and encouraging with gentle words needs to be made a priority rather than selfishly getting it done right, quicker. Bless those who’ve been patient with me while I figured this out.
A few weeks ago someone shared their new involvement in something I value and hold dear to me and in the moment after we walked our separate ways I remember feeling a sense of ‘indifference’ and blasé-ness. At 2 am today I realised that that was a sensationally healthy move forward. It’s not that I didn’t care, all the growth and pain paid off and was displayed in that moment where I was content to congratulate someone else, honestly and genuinely, for being able to share something I love. I must say sometimes sharing a treasured person’s time and love with others is still a challenging area for me. Jealousy has a very ugly head that rears so unexpectedly. I choose to be aware, though. I speak the realities of my heart but refocus on the truth. I am loved by a perfect Father and I am made to be exclusively me. There’s a surprising amount of freedom in that. What I do, who I hug and spend time with, what I put in my mouth, what time I get up in the morning, where I give my time and effort, or who I call my closest confidants do not justify who I am. These things don’t MAKE me, they don’t DEFINE me, they don’t VALIDATE me. I am not justified by what I do or what others do and don’t think of me. On the clear and revolutionary moments when I feel this truth in my heart I quietly smile and am thankful for the liberty of letting go. I smile at the peace I feel by redirecting my source of validation and identity. I smile at the gentleness and care of it all. I shed a tear for the divine care and gentleness that’s guided me here. The sweet moments of self-realisation need to be credited in part to the wonderful people who’ve crossed my path. I am thankful that I have had good teachers, patient parents, encouraging mentors and loving friends.
I choose to redirect my thoughts; I choose to believe something absolutely true about who I am. I am most importantly, constantly loved, by God. I am made with His perfect hands and my humanness and undeniable need to depend on Him is what makes me willing and able to move forward. This new reality I’m focusing on is one where I hold onto Him tightly, onto what my God says about me and how He loves me. I like my profession and I value and cherish my friends but I NEED my God and his thoughts about me. I’m happy to share him with you, though 😛
I write to reflect but I hope that it does more than that. I hope that it may inspire, convict and prompt you. The things I write often bring me cringey moments where I wonder if I will get dodgy looks tomorrow, but hey, it’s a new birth year and there are new heights awaiting. Vulnerability and authenticity, patience and Spirit-lead living are the name of the game. There’s a world out there at stake and it needs more bold, audacious God-fearing leaders. Let’s become.
– Karen Ravn