I am almost 57. Fifty seven years of people, situations, issues, reaction, desires, disappointment, dreams, loves….
This year on my birthday, I’m making the resolution to “not look back.”
To not look back at disappointment.
To not look back at rejection.
To not look back at loss.
Of course, looking back is important to do at times. I actually began to rediscover parts of my life during the imposed solitude of the pandemic that I hadn’t taken the time to integrate precisely because I hadn’t looked back. I needed to take the time to “connect the psychological-emotional-spiritual dots” between what I had experienced and lived through to what I was still carrying today in my heart and mind.
Making the connections is important. By making connections we can surrender to God what he has helped us recognize. We can let it go. We can understand it more deeply, even recognize where we may have been mistaken in our perception of what happened.
When we stop to take a bird’s eye view of the context of our life, we discover that for much of our life we, like everyone else, have had a hard time differentiating between our emotionalized perceptions and the external world as it actually is.
When we have confused our perception or opinion with the facts, we put ourselves at the center as the one who “knows,” the one who is the arbiter of the truth of what really happened. If we are at the center, then our vision is skewed because what doesn’t serve the ego—me—is the enemy. Whether it is a person, a situation, a group, a rule, an event…if I believe that I am at the center, then everything is judged on whether or not it serves me. If it does not turn out to my advantage, it is perceived as an injustice.
Of course, we don’t say this in so many words, not even in our moments of deepest self-honesty, because it makes us squirm to think that we consider ourselves the center of our universe. Isn’t it true at least sometimes, however, that it puts us in a better position if we can lay the blame for something at another’s feet.
Quite frankly, every human being since Adam and Eve has had to struggle with this. In the garden they shifted the center of the universe from glorifying God to glorifying themselves.
And hence, the resolution: not to look back. Not to keep recalling events as explanations of what is happening today. Not to nurture grudges. Not to hold people’s past decisions and mistakes against them. To stop refusing others and myself the graced chance to begin again.
It is time to surrender the secret joy that comes from harboring chronic resentment. Bringing them up when it is entirely not necessary. Covering over the past with a blanket of peace.
It is time to surrender unrealistic expectations of the world and relationships.
It is time to surrender demands of convenience, agreement, approval, popularity.
It is time to surrender self-centeredness as a lifestyle.
It is time to pray for the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
It is time to take responsibility for bringing inner self-centered “me” attitudes to the surface and subordinate them to reason and selfless concern for others.
It is time to accept human fallibility and limitation. To rejoice in the weaknesses of others. To realize each person works with what they have at any given time.
It is time to surrender the seemingly impossible scenarios of the past to God.
It is time to give up the addiction to self-righteousness.
It is time to choose calm, peace, compromise, forgiveness and self-control
It is time to embrace dedication, humility, gratitude, perseverance, and tolerance.
It is time to choose tomorrow over yesterday, a tomorrow that certainly has been shaped by the yesterdays of my life, but even more so by the choices I am making today.
On the altar of my heart, I raise my arms in praise and gratitude, my King, and walk in humble confidence in your merciful compassion. Amen.