WREN Stories: End of year spiritual reflection

This month's WREN (Workforce Race Equality Network) Stories blog comes from our Trust Chaplain Rev Dr Michael Mkpadi who shares a spiritual reflection of 2021.

Before we begin to make all our plans and set all our goals for the coming year, we ought to take some time to reflect on the current year and tie up whatever loose ends we have. We should desire to go into 2022 with confidence, grace, and healed hearts.

One of the most difficult things about changing seasons is leaving the past behind us and moving forward to what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13). This can be hard to do, especially if we’ve had a hard year and are struggling to feel positive about what may come next. And yet, even when things have been so sweet, we can be uncertain of the coming year – will it threaten the peace and happiness we’ve come to enjoy? Looking to the future means looking to the unknown.

Either way, we have learned that through Christ, all things are possible. That means that no matter what 2021 held for you, Christ is able to walk alongside you to help you to move forward in your life. This doesn’t mean that we should push our feelings and thoughts aside in an attempt to hurry and get over them for the sake of a new year. Rather, we have to be willing to let go of control and allow Christ to reign and rule over our lives, submitting to his authority and plan, and trust him to help us in whatever way we need while we move forward.

Take some time between now and the new year to think through your 2021. Take note of the condition of your heart and why it is in the current shape that it’s in. Then, in your secret prayer time, go to the Lord and have him survey your heart. Open it wide for him, lay your 2021 at his feet, and choose to walk with him to the place that he has for you.

The LTHT Staff Health & Wellbeing Support Network published this advice for their staff on self-compassion. I think the advice will help us prepare for the coming year

“Compassion is a fundamental part of all our jobs and is likely to have been part of the reason we joined the NHS in the first place. Compassion is our ability to notice that someone is struggling and having the motivation to do something about it. Compassion for our patients comes naturally; but what about when the ‘someone who is struggling’ is us? This pandemic has been our hour of need. Have we taken time to notice our own struggle? Have we treated ourselves with the same compassion we give others? Have we accepted offers of support and kindness from those around us; our families, our friends, our colleagues? For many of us, the answer will be “no.” We need to experience compassion in our lives because right now our lives are hard. This past year, we’ve all suffered to some degree, and at times been overwhelmed by our experiences, almost all of which have been way beyond our control. We didn’t ask for this. We’ve just found ourselves here and we are trying to cope in any way we can. And, on top of it all, we’ve got minds that tell us we should be coping better. It is tough to be kind to ourselves without accompanying troublesome thoughts and feelings but we can start by using the diffusion techniques to ‘unhook’ from our judgements about self-compassion.”

It is equally important that a frontline clinical team should practice self-compassion. In our Trust we developed an on-going practice of compassionate care for staff which started in 2015 in all our hospitals. The practice was interrupted by COVID in 2020. Our hope is that this practice cherished by many will start again in the new year.

Here is a small prayer that you can pray as you reflect on this year and prepare your heart and mind for the New Year that is coming:

Lord, Today we in complete sincerity welcome You into this new year and new decade of our lives. We know that no good thing comes except by You. We do not seek blessings from a place of pride or selfish ambition, rather, we seek them in order that we may come to know Your heart better and live a holy life praising your name and striving for your Kingdom. Take us further and deeper than all we could ask for or imagine this year, oh Lord. Bless us beyond what we believe and in the process, instil in us the perfect truth that You are the only God, and that You love us. In Jesus name, Amen

Provided by Rev Dr M. C. Mkpadi