An Advent Challenge

It’s still extremely surreal to me that I finished nursing school. That come January I won’t be going back to class, that there are no more 8 am lectures, no more care plans, no more monthly exams, no more finals. I know I’ll never stop learning. I know I’ll never stop wanting to learn more, to know why I’m doing what I do. But to be done with the formal part of my education is just unreal.

As I have this free time, I find myself thinking a lot, reflecting a lot. And I have been struck by how much it meant to me when people believed in me, when people saw potential in me and let me know it.

I see a world where we put each other down. I see a world filled with people trying to make it. I see a world where we’re so self-absorbed (myself included) that we forget about the people around us. We get so focused on our own problems that we forget the people around us might be having a bad day too, or a worse day than you.

I want to see a world where we build one another up. I want to see a world where we put aside ourselves and focus on the other. I want to see a world where we focus on one another’s strengths.

There are so many people I can think of who picked me up and built me up when I was down. My parents, siblings, friends, teachers, mentors – people see me as the mess I am because I’m not the best when it comes to hiding my feelings.  I suppose I learned at one point or another that there is no point in putting on the masks that everything is perfect because that takes more energy than it’s worth.

But anyway, I’m getting side-tracked. I guess what I’m getting at is first of all I’m extremely thankful for the people in my life who believed in me. And all this was sparked yesterday by my trainer at my gym. We were talking about what my fitness goals were and I decided on strength because physical strength is something that will greatly benefit me as a nurse. And we realized just how weak I am. Also it turned out I was pretty pathetic when it came to doing a kettleball swing so my trainer started asking me about some different things and it was obvious to me that he wanted to invest in helping me reach this goal. And I walked out of the gym with this renewed sense of confidence because I felt like someone saw potential in me and was determined to help me reach the goal.

I think about the teachers who let me come into their rooms during lunch breaks and talk to them. I think about my pastoral leaders who met with me monthly and listened to me and guided me and encouraged me. I think about my professors who let me come in for office hours, helped me figure out my test anxiety issue, met with me after the semester ended to review my exam. I think about the clinical instructors who invested in me, who took time one to one with me to encourage me, to build up my confidence. I think about the people who held me while I cried because things hit harder to home than expected. I think of my parents and the countless tear-filled phone calls they received. I think of my friends and their listening ears as I lamented the frustrations of school or rejoiced over all I learned in a day. And I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

But the thing is – these people, these acts of kindness I’m listing so often go unnoticed. Kindness in this world so often goes un-thanked. I know advent has been a challenging time for me. And faith kinda got put on the back-burner. But in this last week and a half before Christmas I am going to be making a point to try and thank people for their kindness, and I want to challenge you to do the same. Pick someone who has been greatly impactful to you over the last year and reach out to them, thanking them for their kindness.

Advent is a season of preparation of the coming of the child Jesus. It is a quiet, joyous time as we prepare for His coming. So let’s spend some time by the manger, reflecting on the goodness He has brought us this year, on the growth of this year, on the joys of this year, and share those joys with one another. Let’s tell the people we love that we believe in them, and remind them just how amazing they are! (because all we need a pick me up every now and then)

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