It’s January 1, 2018. I sit in my rocking chair in front of the fireplace, rocking my youngest grandchild. There is no grey in my hair and very little in my beard although the beard and Just For Men® have been introduced. I have been blessed with very few wrinkles but that could change, I am only fifty. Still, there’s something about sitting in a rocking chair, grandchild on your lap in front of the fireplace that makes one feel like reflecting on the past as if to say, “I have lived a long life.”
To live without regret is the stuff self-help books are fashioned around.
To live without regret is also the stuff unproductive lives and immature behaviour are built on. Looking back without regret means not really looking back at all. Sugar coating or totally ignoring the things that didn’t turn out the way we wanted and the actions that led to the undesired outcome leaves no room for personal growth.
To live with only regret is the stuff that fuels the need for more self-help books.
To live with only regret is the stuff fear and depression are built on. Looking back with only regret means we are not really looking back at all. Overlooking the good times, totally ignoring the things that worked out better than expected, the little miracles that took place, leaves no room for personal growth.
So what happened to my life in 2017?
I try to look back, to learn from my regrets. I try to look back and celebrate the accomplishments and unexpected miracles. I am not trying to sound like a badly written encouragement card reminding the recipient to look for the silver lining. I’m not trying to sound like a philosopher reminding others of the lessons to be learned from the letdowns and pain we experience. I am just trying to grow through reflection.
It isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Clouded by the concerns of today, overwhelmed by the potential for both success and failure in the future, it’s tough to reflect. Even when I can take a moment to reflect, my current mood often dictates the lens through which I view the past. If I feel negative I can see every situation I regret, if I feel positive I tend to see only the good times. Rarely can I see both at the same time.
So what needs to happen to my life in 2018?
New Year’s resolutions aren’t my thing. I have never made one that I can remember and even if I did, my best guess is I broke it by January 2nd or if I was having a particularly good year January 3rd. This year is going to be different; I am going to make a New Year’s resolution.
- I will not avoid looking back at regretful experiences but instead grow because of them.
- I will not avoid looking back at good experiences but instead grow because of them.
- I will not look back at regrets or good times without looking back at both because together they will help me grow as a more complete person.
It’s January 1, 2018. I write my blog near my rocking chair in front of the fireplace.
I have played with my oldest and rocked my youngest grandchild. Both are taking a nap before my eldest son and his wife arrive to pick them up. Their cousin is most likely sleeping in the backseat of her parent’s car as they return from a weekend away. In the driver’s seat is her father, my middle son, his wife sits beside him with their second child waiting to make an entrance into this world sometime in May. In the room above me is my youngest son. His time for children will come but right now he enjoys his role as Unky D. My wife takes a nap in the next room recovering from grand parenting. I am blessed.
As I write my blog I realize that this same computer contains my résumé. It is a testament to God using me in miraculous ways and yet it has been exactly one year since I completed my last transitional pastor contract and still no work. A few clicks away is my online banking but I don’t want to look at that; I don’t want to be reminded of the debts accumulated while I have been unemployed. In one computer folder the book I wrote still waiting for a publisher. In another folder are the scripts I wrote, directed and performed, no longer in use. Another folder contains the songs I wrote and once performed that now go unheard unless you happen to hear me taking a walk down memory lane on my keyboard one day. I have regrets.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 View this passage and much more at BibleGateway.com