That Happy Certainty
By the Revd Robin Ham
“We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience”
Part of the reason I blog is to reflect. Life happens, and sometimes it happens pretty fast. If we’re to learn and to grow and to see the hand of God at work, not least in shaping us, then sitting down, taking a breather and reflecting upon life is pretty crucial.
As anyone familiar with the adult learning cycle will know, it’s a key element of how we develop. That might just be analysing a simple cause and effect we have observed, or it might be more ‘ponderous’: re-running a crucial conversation over in your mind, looking back with a friend on a sermon you gave, or just ‘debriefing’ the day, as my wife likes to call it.
The challenge I find is building the time in. Time is needed to consider questions like ‘How is that going?’, ‘What could we have done differently?’, and ‘What’s God teaching us through this?’. At college we have a particular module called ‘Theological Reflection’, and the aim is to give us that time. Time to talk with peers about what we’re experiencing at the churches we’re based in. I remember initially, it’s fair to say a few of us were a bit sceptical. What? Time just talking and thinking? But actually it’s proved to be one of the highlights of each week.
Now obviously reflection needs a mark stick. We need to have some sense of what we’re meant to be aiming for, some sense of what is excellent and what is healthy and what is beautiful. There’s a lot of good wisdom out there, but as Christians that ultimately comes down to the Scriptures.
But if we have the mark stick but no time to reflect, then chances are we plough on without really ever checking whether or not what we’re doing is just being done because that’s-the-way-it’s-always-been-done kinda thing. Or whether or not we’ve actually set a course for some pretty unhealthy waters. Or maybe we just miss the opportunity to give thanks to God for what he’s doing in our lives. Yep, reflection gives us a chance to take stock. And like with the original sense of that phrase, our stock could be running on empty, it could have gone past its sell by date, or it could be full of good things to share. The way to find out before it’s past us by is to take time to reflect.
As this little piece below from 99U says,
“We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience.”
The Revd Robin Ham blogs at www.thathappycertainty.com. He serves at Grace Church, Barrow.