When I was three or four years old, my favourite book had a square-shaped hardcover with shiny pages, a plastic wrap and beautifully illustrated pages. It was called, 'Have You Got My Purr' and was about a kitten who couldn't purr. She asked Cow if he had her purr, and Cow would say, "no, I'm sorry Little Kitten, I only have my moo". And so the kitten would ask Sheep who would say, "I've only got my baaa" and so on and so on. Excuse the spoiler, but Kitten snuggles down with her mum and realises her purr was inside her all the time.
For the last few months I haven't been reflective, which is unusual for me. I'm usually a deep thinker; analysing the world around me, experiences, people's words. But recently I'd experience something - a good sermon, a youth event, a conversation with someone- and move onto the next thing. Or I would read a blog without thinking, "do I agree?" or "yeah, that's a good point because..."
I usually fill an entire journal (we're talking PaperChase size) in one year with thoughts and reflections, but so far, in May, I have about 20 pages, about 17 of those are seminar notes. In comparison to other years, I should have drawings reflecting how I felt that night, a review of a film I saw, Polaroids with annotations and long midnight thoughts.
My line manager would ask me, "how do you think tonight's youth session went" and my reply would always be, "good" or "urmmm". I either hadn't thought about anything, or I was scared to say that actually I really struggled with, for example, explaining the point of the activity, because I felt like I had to get everything right - but that's a blog post for another day.
I had lost my reflectiveness.
Last Tuesday I was typing away in the Office when I asked my line manager, "what am I good at and what do I need to work on in youth ministry?" Amongst many good things, she said that I don't seem to reflect, and she too had picked up on that I say a session was good when it wasn't. Since then, I've been actively thinking and reflecting. I read Hannah Witton's and Lucy Moon's blog posts on the need for makeup, and I had a conversation with myself about who I agree with. I lead youth group and after the game I thought to myself, "how did that go?" During the activity I thought, "what am I doing well? What should I do? How do I feel" I saw someone's Insta story about the need for vulnerability in blog posts and thought about how it's needed but I would assume that many bloggers aren't vulnerable due to a fear. And that's when I realised, my reflectiveness was inside me all the time.
P.S I'm not sure if relfectiveness is a word. My laptop is giving me a little red squiggle below the word, a lot like my High School English teacher would do alongside an arrow and "not a word". But the online Collins Dictionary says it is, so we'll go with that.