Many people concoct a far-fetched list of New Year's resolutions, but as for me, summer resolutions a far more important (northern hemisphere, West Indies). This year my list was more like a personal contract inclusive of things that I had been too lazy or busy to accomplish last summer and other things that I simply had to do this year.
Though unbeknown to me, God had another plan.
As it nears the end of summer vacation, I feel a sense of accomplishment as I review the pages of my now completed journal. Almost every page is filled with entries about my difficult and ongoing journey to loving my neighbour.
Reviewing the entry solely dedicated to 1 Corinthians chapter 13 verses 4-8, which focuses on the definition of love, I scanned to see if I had made any progress. Despite the fact that I still had work to do in each area, and most likely always will, I smiled at the progress that I had made this summer with the first characteristic- patience.
Many are the Plans of Man
So often had I heard the words of Proverbs chapter 19 verse 21, "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." However, I didn't quite imagine that my innocent plans would go against God's purpose for my summer. So instead of sewing some new pieces, going on exciting adventures with my friends and reading the list of books that I had planned, my focus became trying to keep a smile on the face of my extraordinary, one year old nephew.
Expectations versus Reality
At the beginning, I figured that babysitting him would be no trouble, especially because I had handled dozens of toddlers at once in the past. However, the need to constantly entertain him was getting in the way of "me-time", and soon nothing was closer to my heart than "naptime" and "home time".
Although I'd prided myself on being "great with kids", my frustration was increasing daily. Constantly pulling his very reluctant body out of danger's way, vacuuming a variety of spilled, dry foods off of the carpet, listening to the same nursery rhymes repeatedly and waking up at eight in the morning, were driving me crazy.
In my frustration, I began to think, "maybe I don't like kids as much as I thought I did... perhaps it's not my calling..." I was by no means contented with this revelation and wondered what other things in my life I'd misjudged. Then I remembered my mother saying that only when she had children did she learn patience.
Being that patience was something that I truly lacked and had been praying for, I figured that my time with the little man was setting up to be a great lesson in patience.
Back to the Classroom
With everything in mind, I was set on approaching the coming week differently, holding fast to the definition of patience and having faith that God would guide me. Be that as it may, I'd forgotten that this was the week that we'd be having two more little house guests. As I tried to remain positive, I could feel the anxiety welling up inside of me, "a test, already?!"
During that week, I often retreated to my room to recharge, reminding myself of my desire to love as Christ loved. Coming on to the end of the week, as my mother and I put them all to bed, I reflected on their time with us and how much they had enjoyed themselves and I had too.
By the next week, when I was back down to one child, I missed the others. I missed their laughter, I missed watching as they figured out new things and taught new things to one another, I missed their mischievous little faces, the random hugs and how much they reminded me of the ease of childhood.
What I Learnt
After some time in summer's classroom, I saw a few things more clearly. Firstly, patience requires a willingness to selflessly give of your time and in some cases your energy.
Secondly, it requires that you live in the present, a concept which fellow Press Service International writer Charlotte Goiris beautifully explained in her article 'A leaf out of the actor's handbook'.
Finally, I noticed that the more intentional I became about focusing on the needs of the children and enjoying the time that I spent with them, the less the other things bothered me.
As I look back on my summer, I realise that I did get to do most of the things on my list. Even though, the time that I spent being taught by the little people was significantly greater than the "me-time" I had planned, I'd safely say that God truly put together a memorable summer.
Danielle Jones was born on the beautiful island of Barbados to phenomenal parents. She is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Arts in Drama as a part of a joint programme between the University of the West Indies, Mona and the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Jamaica. She hopes to speak fluent Spanish someday, do global missionary work and spread the love of Christ.
Danielle Jones' previous articles may be viewed at http:/www.pressserviceinternational.org/danielle-jones.html" target="_blank">http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/danielle-jones.html