There is something about the New Year that speaks of growth and redemption. Somewhere between Christmas and the last day of January of the New Year in varying degrees, we all take an inward look in search of fulfilling an instinct to overcome something, someone or to strive harder toward a goal. I've even seen people develop an insatiable desire to take on a hobby or mission that they have never shown a proclivity toward ever before in their life.
In ministry, I encounter all sorts of reasons for people wanting to do the things that they do. The New Year seems to serve as a high yet safe perch for an individual to have a bird's eye view of their life and the people it contains. That's when an individual feels the need to invest in the aged old mindset of a New Year's Resolution to address the factors, people and circumstances that make up their lifestyle.
Because we are all so different it's hard to conjure up one anecdote that fits all methodologies for self-fulfillment. I recently had the Pleasure of meeting an extraordinarily gifted Clinical Psychologist for which I will have the privilege of publishing later this year. Her name is Dr. Janet Calwood-Jackson. Dr. Jackson practices in the Washington, DC area. Dr. Jackson used a phrase that captured my imagination. The phrase she uses in her practice is "what's written in your cement?" Every foundation is only as strong as the integrity of the cement that is poured into it.
We all have a foundation that was created in the first ten or so years of our lives. If you've ever seen a newly paved sidewalk you may have noticed from time to time that people may decide to immortalize themselves by inscribing their name or placing their footprints in the wet cement so it leaves an impression for all to see. Our cement is the foundation that is represented by our childhood. There are all sorts of impressions made in that cement during those tender years of development while our cement is wet. By the time we reach adulthood that cement has hardened and we may or may not be at peace with the impression we are left with.
This BLOG may not be able to address all the impressions in your cement but it may hold some helpful suggestions toward repaving your cement and the way you perceive personal fulfillment.
CANCEL THE REHEARSALS
Many of us face an almost daily ritual of revisiting old and painful issues that took place years ago. In many cases the people who caused us the most pain in these areas are dead and long gone; yet we still maintain an eternal bond with this memory as if we must rehearse it in order to maintain our identity.
God forbid, but if you were to sustain a traumatic hit to the head and you suffered temporary amnesia. Depending on the severity of the hit you could actually forget that painful period occurred. Tell yourself that you are no longer defined by the period of time and abruptly decide that you will no longer rehearse this funerary dirge any longer. If someone we love were to be suddenly taken from us we would have to accept that they are no longer coming back. There are times in my life that are unpleasant to think of and I've chosen to no longer accept them as my present or my future so I've decided to kill them abruptly and bury them in an unmarked grave.
To be honest I've had enough time to process and deal with that period and now it's time for that period to go. There is greater in store for me than that I have survived.
LOVE WHAT YOU SEE
Growing up in a cultural melting pot like New York City there were still isolated areas of racial supremacy. I was born in Guyana, South America and came to this country at the age of five, just in time to start school. The elementary school I attended was diverse in culture but very homogenous in skin color. I was one of two children of recent African descent. I caught every racial joke that would make the late Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor blush. By the time I made it to the fifth grade I had a complex about my extremely ethnic features. I've never been told in my life that I had any redeeming aesthetic qualities except for my smile. So needless to say I tried my best to smile often.
I was selected to be a part of an experimental fifth grade class. This class had its own refurbished factory as a building and teachers whom were atypical. Every Friday we had the pleasure of being taught by a regal yet petite African-American lady who owned a theatrical company in Brooklyn. Her name was Mrs. Whitehurst and she told me that I had the features of a tribe of people in West Africa. She taught me that in parts of Africa I would be revered as Royalty just by the way I looked and carried myself. She was the first person in my life to tell me that she thought I was handsome.
Whether she truly felt that way or just felt that I needed to hear that pales in comparison to its effect on the rest of my life. Mrs. Whitehurst taught me that despite what I saw in the mirror that someone greater took great pains to create me the way I looked. She taught me that the true beauty of what we see on the inside is what will show on the outside. The fact that you dislike your nose, toes or the phenomenal shape that your God has given you; should not discount the fact that you are truly unique. Take a moment to understand that you are not a template from a cookie cutter. You were made the way you are for a reason.
Loving what you see can also mean that you should accept people the way they are instead of getting caught up in the frustration of trying to make people behave the way you want them to. You have value. Let this year be the year of redeeming your value after a long appraisal process.
DON'T JUDGE ANYONE ANYMORE
From the dawn of time all of creation has sought equal ranking with the mind and authority of God. It happened with Lucipher in heaven; it happened with Adam and Eve in the Garden when they were promised the wisdom of God and it has happened in the mind of every psychotic dictator ever since. The human psyche desires to not stand out but to judge and label that which does. The church particularly suffers from this phenomenon.
The fact that the church body has a set of rules that govern our belief system gives us the false affordability to judge those that don't conform. We in the church tend to miss the point that even God is not yet sitting in the seat of judgment, so why should we. It's important that we as members of the human family try to look beyond the obvious and pursue the beauty of the eternal. Everyone in this life has a value and a purpose for being here in the state you find them in.
Sometimes God and fate will place something you desperately need in someone you desperately hate. We are spiritual beings having a human experience, not the other way. We are all happiest when we are understood.
FORGIVENESS (JUST DO IT)
We've all heard it before; choosing to hold on to unforgiveness and resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the person who offended you to die. A myriad of medical studies have proven that those who let go of resentment and unforgiveness have more favorable clinical outcomes than those who don't. The fact is, you don't have to hold onto anything at all if you choose not to. Whether it's as simple as forgiving the person who took your parking spot or the person who has scarred you deeply; holding onto these issues and rehearsing their effect on you certainly doesn't empower you. In fact in many cases the offender doesn't even know or care that they have hurt you. You must find the strength and courage deep within to forgive even though there may never be an apology.
If you are a spiritual person you are probably well aware that the only hope of eternal paradise is based on your ability to leave this life without any baggage whatsoever.
PLAN YOUR QUIET TIME
Whatever you choose to call it; me time, quiet time, meditation or prayer time. It's a time that we all need in order to restore. For the sake of this BLOG let's call it meditation time. Meditation time is for the soul what sleep is to the body. This truly is a time for cleansing of the mind and soul. Try to plan for this time with consistency and without distraction. The average wash cycle for a washing machine is about 15 minutes. So try to plan at least 15 minutes a day for this critical time. You won't want to consider spending more time washing your clothes than you do washing your soul. You have enough factors in life that are competing for your sanity; take the time to preserve it.
There is no quick fix for all that ails us but the key to personal fulfillment is in understanding your value in the grand scheme of things in your life such as your friends, loved ones, your vocation and the purpose you are here for. Unless the value of something is determined it's abuse is inevitable. With a new mind style you can change your lifestyle for 2012. Happy New Year!