Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Looking Back and Forward

Wow. If I post another 21 times before midnight, my post count for this year will equal the post count for 2010, which up until now was the year with the fewest entries. Yeah, I don't think I'll even try.

However, I do want to make one more post before ushering in the new year. One of my assignments for school this last semester was to write up my core values - that is, not ideals I aspire to, but what other people who know me would be able to put their finger on and say, "Yes, that's her. That's what drives her."

With a few tweaks, it's something I'd like to share, as an appropriate way to see out the year gone by. Rather than making resolutions, which I don't do anyway, I will end the year by reviewing what is constant. By understanding this, I can prepare for all the changes that are bound to happen in 2014. By verbalizing what holds sway over me, I can be aware of both my strengths and weaknesses, and decide what to do with them.

1. I value family

God has blessed me with an incredible family that I love and respect very much. The strong roots that my family has helped me to grow continue to connect me to my family even when we are separated by distance. Presented with the choice, I take my family over friends or other commitments pretty well every time. There is little I would not do if my family needed me to do it. I thank God for my family and consider it one of the greatest, if not the greatest, gift he has given me.

2. I value community

People are social beings and the people I choose to associate with are very important to me. Unity, harmony, and strong reliable bonds provide security, and this is something that many people sadly lack. Even when relationships come to a natural end, such as relationships with summer campers or team members on short term trips, I give my heart knowing I will be leaving part of it behind. The times I have most closely encountered God have been the times when people in my community showed him to me. Deep relationships with people inspire me to become more Christ-like and I believe that where community is strong, it can change a culture for the better.

3. I value service

I have made a conscious decision to serve God, people, and the world around me. I seek to contribute, rather than just benefit, from the people and places I find myself. Toward this end, I make a point to volunteer for various tasks and positions. Sometimes it is a formal role, such as being active within my church, and sometimes it is informal, such as regularly editing the school papers of my peers. In serving others, I learn that the world does not revolve around me and I come to appreciate all the more the things that people do to serve me.

4. I value commitment

When I join a group, that group becomes a priority for me. It is rare for me to miss meetings or shifts or services, or whatever form of gathering the group utilizes. More than just attendance, I aim to be a reliable member that starts off enthusiastic and ends well – someone who can be trusted to see what she started through to completion. Once I have given my word to do something, I see it as my duty to follow through.

5. I value respect

I work with the basic assumption that all people deserve respect and seek to give them that respect. This happens in various ways. For example, I dislike gossip, and seek to point out the good in someone when the conversation is negative. I prefer to use the titles that people have earned rather than assume that I may use their first name. I treasure the diversity found in other cultures and respect the ways they are different from mine. If and when I see someone being mistreated, I get truly angry - insofar as this goes, it could be said that I value justice. Further, I wish to be on the best possible terms with the people I encounter, and so I seek to recognize and respect both our differences and our common ground.

6. I value compassion

God has compassion on his creatures, and I seek to be one of the tangible ways people experience that compassion. Where sometimes it is easy to see merely right or wrong, I see hurt and suffering. When others talk, I listen, so that if I am unable to do anything else, then I have sat with them a while and shown them that they are not ignored or forgotten. I seek to understand the trials of the people around me because when I can see the larger picture, I can see how we are all one family. When someone allows me to share in their emotions, I consider them to be affording me one of the highest possible honours.

7. I value contemplation

There is so much to experience and learn and I do not wish to have someone else tell me what I am supposed to understand from it all. I seek to be open-minded and see things from the point of view of others, without being so open-minded that my mind figuratively falls out. I search for wise guides, and consider carefully the things I have been taught and the things that culture tries to instill. Spending time just thinking is not uncommon for me, and it is often time well-spent.

8. I value learning

I strive to learn more about God, about people, and about life. I am called to grow to be like Christ, and growth cannot happen without learning. Reading books, having good talks, and learning about the viewpoints of others all play a large role in my life. Whether I am in a formal educational setting or not, I endeavor to never stagnate, but always to be growing in knowledge and wisdom.

9. I value personal excellence

When I choose to do something, I apply myself to do it as well as I possibly can. Sometimes this means deep cleaning the fridge when it would be easier to do just a quick wipe-down, or it means re-editing multiple times something I have written. I strive to improve whatever I am working on, so that when something is declared finished, I can feel proud of my effort. I feel that I am cheating others when I do something for them that is less than I am capable of.

10. I value confidence

Confidence in myself is rootless, but my confidence is found in God. Because I know who I am in his eyes, I have confidence to live and act as I believe I should. I am not easily pushed around by those who surround me. I have not succumbed to pressures that so many struggle with, such as substance abuse or empty relationships, nor am I afraid to think against the grain. Since my identity in rooted in God, he helps me to stand strong in the face of winds that try to blow me in many directions.

11. I value potato chips

God has called us to be salt and light in the world, so I take my inspiration from salty, light potato chips. While others crave sugar, I crave the seasoned goodness of deep fried vegetables. I am known to do homework while curled up on my bed, my hand in a bag of Lays. Through snacks like these, my mouth has been prepared for the culinary tastes of cultures that prefer savoury flavours to sweetness. My preference for potato chips has made me ready to go boldly forth into the far reaches of the world where there is no chocolate.*

We live in uncertain times. I don't know what the next year is going to look like for me or for anyone, but there is something comforting about knowing who you are and who you will strive to be, regardless of circumstances.

May God walk with us all into the coming year.

"It is a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." J. R. R. Tolkien

*If you're wondering, I turned in number 11 only on the first draft, which was ungraded. 


Sandra Heinrichs said...

I love you, Carla! And what's more--I like you, too! And I am sooooo proud to be your mom. :)

Anonymous said...

I love you too! I'm so blessed I get to be your sister. Happy New Year!! I miss you.


Art said...

Those are awesome. Number 11, not so much but I know where you are coming from on it. You are a very special person.