As water in a puddle grows stagnant if there is no source of flowing water--so it is with us--we grow stale--perhaps even a little moldy if we refuse to learn from our past and strive for a better future. If we allow ourselves to be planted in the poor soil of past mistakes, our future fruit will bear the cost of our poor decisions.
Too many times we sit under the umbrella of our past, the mistakes we have made or life occurrences which have deeply marked us and perhaps even scarred us. I have laughingly always said the original sin was blame shifting. Sadly our world has encouraged taking the mantle of martyr and allowed our past to be the excuse for not altering our current circumstance and living life to the fullest. We become the reflection of the labels cast upon us and allow those labels to define who we are.
Shaping and defining are important terms when we look at our history. Loosing my father at 14 was a life shaping event. I am not defined though by the label-Father-less. My former husband filing for divorce has certainly shaped my current life, but I am not defined by the label Divorcee.
Others have suffered life altering events-I think of all those who lost children this past year. That loss has certainly shaped how their lives will look from here on, but they are not defined by the death of this child. The loss of that child did not alter the fact they will always be a parent to a child taken too soon.
In a rather round about way, I am relating to you all the events of our lives shape who we are today. One singular event does not define us, but instead combines with all the others to shape us into the unique and complex personality we are.
The boys received a new set of magnetic building blocks for Christmas. As you attach one magnet to the next, the towering building begins to form the complex structure of a sky scraper or perhaps a castle. The building must have every block to stay erect. We do not define the structure by one of the blocks, but step back and view it as a whole. Each block is an important part of what it took to create the whole.
So it is with each of us, we are not labeled by one event in the long line of life-instead we are the complex and sophisticated combination of each of the events. The loss of my father, being a single struggling mom, or living alone are no more important than being a mother, grandmother, and friend. All the roles and labels I have played or held in life make up the complexity of who I am.
What is important is how I use the events of the past to shape my future reactions to similar events or others God places in my path. Am I able to use those events to grow to a higher level of emotional or spiritual maturity? Do I speak to those in similar places with empathy and wisdom or do I become mired in my stagnant pool of self pity?"
Where am I going with this? Do not allow the labels of the world to become the defining markers of who you are. Take the past and allow it to shape how you live the present --which might even incorporate change. Life is about growing, morphing, and striving for a better future. As you reflect upon 2016, I pray you recognize the good and bad as life shaping tools to use for a better 2017. May God fill you with hope and joy as you ponder upon what was and look forward to a better tomorrow. His desire is for us to recognize He has a plan for us---a plan for a hope and a future and the future is now 2017.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”