"Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep..."
I know some of us remember this childhood prayer; trusting words uttered at our most vulnerable - on our way to bed.
The bed is the focal point of any room, ironically receiving so much of our creative energy when it is intended to be a place of rest. We primarily turn to beds for relaxation.
As we continue our look at spring cleaning, the lesson of the bed is two-fold:
- What and who do we turn to for respite?
- Who comes to us looking for that safe place to exhale?
For some of us, individual places of restoration may include church or a civic organisation. For others it's hanging out with friends and family. But it can also be exercise, art, reading/journalling - just spaces of peace.
Unfortunately, as we grow and change, the places we choose to find this rejuvenation often leave us sapped, unfulfilled and devoid of any restoration. The benefits of any restorative relationship or activity should include:
• Inspiration for creativity and adventure
• Making room for new experiences
• Mandated personal growth
It is a rule of thumb that you cannot change who you are without considering what you do and who influences you. After all, they are all extensions of who you truly are. Ask yourself:
Am I willing to change as I embrace new things and new people or am I content to remain who and where I am?
Is this activity or this person truly a benefit to me; or do I find myself giving more than I am receiving?
Would I be better in an activity or in a connection that is mutually fulfilling or am I content to be short-changed continuously?
Then, of course, we must look at the fact that as we continue the quest of finding our places of ease someone will ultimately turn to us for that same assistance.
An important idea to note is each connection has a different level of trust, exposure and release. You are the common thread in each connection, and must realise that in order to be that place of peace for someone, you must:
• Earn their trust - building a lasting connection takes time
• Be confidential - cover them even when they're not looking
• Communicate earnestly and listen without judgement - although 100 per cent agreement is a fallacy, maintain mutual respect
• Be vulnerable and forgiving - as you build, remember no one is perfect
• Be supportive - celebrate each milestone with them
One main lesson in becoming a haven for someone though is never to predicate your growth on their rate of personal change. It is always to your detriment to leave yourself unfulfilled as someone else grows and changes. If you find that there is not the mutual assistance in your quest to grow; or simultaneous celebration of growth and change, then perhaps that connection is not for you.
The activities we participate in and the people we share ourselves with should always offer the following:
Belief that you can be better. Enthusiasm to try new things. Determination to keep going. Solace for the really rough times
Additionally, we must understand that sometimes activities and acquaintances can be functional - only to be used for their intended purpose; or they can be permanent, meaningful and life-changing. It is your decision, however, whether you are in search of that connection, or if someone is trying to make that connection with you, to choose what and with whom you carefully share yourself.
The lesson of our beds is simple: As you gain the strength from someone to be your best self, offer that same encouragement to another.
God bless you this week!
• Ayanna Clarke is a psalmist, singer and author, who has recently released the inspirational book "In the Hands of the Potter".