December 20, 2010

Rethinking the Past

It is almost that time of year when we re-evaluate our year, add up our blessings, and meditate on choices we made that didn't turn out quite as we planned.  I typically go through each year without much review.  I tend to make decisions in real-time, and then much later on, sit back and reflect on them.  This is my 2010 list of Regrets, Reviews, and Rejoices (in no particular order):
  • Rejoice -- I am almost finished with my first semester of graduate school through Mercy College's distance learning program.  This semester has been incredibly challenging to me, considering that I have been out of school for almost 20 years.  I think I have done well, and hope to get good grades.  I have enjoyed my courses, I have learned a lot about Chaucer and the Romantic poets of the 19th century, and I improved my writing skills (polished them up -- they were pretty rusty).  Overall, I think grad school has been a major plus, and I am rejoicing for both the priviledge and opportunity to pursue my MA degree.
  • Rejoice -- I finished home schooling my son through high school this year.  It was a hard push to get through to the end, and there was a lot of uncertainty about where he would go for college and when he would start classes (fall or spring).  Now that he is enrolled for Spring 2011, I am rejoicing for the provision of a scholarship, and for the Honors program at our local community college.
  • Rejoice -- I am thankful for Macy's, and for their willingness to be so cooperative with my schedule.  I have complained about the work (it is hard), and the low pay (it is very low), but generally, I have enjoyed working there.  I have met some nice people, and the income generated has helped to pay some bills, and keep my pantry stocked.  I am rejoicing for the blessing of practical work.
  • Regret -- I regret that I haven't been as honest as I should have been over the years.  In the most recent months some issues have come to light that now have caused me a great deal of pain.  This is a perfect example of not addressing communication issues when they first arise, and then trying to pretend they don't exist.  At some point, they will come back to bite you, and well, I got bitten pretty badly.  My regret is not being truthful years ago, when first pressured into some things.  I should have said "no" and stuck to my guns.  Being immovable sometimes is the only answer, and there are times when it is not good to be flexible.  I was too flexible, and I allowed people to take advantage of me.  Afterwards, instead of addressing the problem, I just ignored it.  This sent the wrong message, and never resolved the tension -- just plunged it down below the surface, where after so many years, it boiled over. 
  • Regret -- I regret that I didn't take more pride in my own self-worth, and fight to keep my rights as a woman of God.  I gave over much too quickly and easily, especially when under pressure from strongwilled individuals.  Had I stood my ground, the enemy would have left me alone.  This is a promise from Scripture, and instead of trusting the Lord to provide a way out -- I gave in, I gave up, and generally, I just quit trying to be the person God created me to be.  In the interim, I suffered greatly in my Spirit, and bent to the wishes of others (became a people pleaser).  Now, I am through with that behavior, but the ramifications are long-lasting, and there is much baggage left to sort through, and finally let go.
  • Regret -- I regret that I didn't say "stop" when I saw my financial future go south.  I should have said "enough" when the money was running so low, the credit was out of control, and the collectors were calling.  I should have gotten off my duff, and done something about the situation BEFORE it came to the point of having no credit, no money, and no potential for success.
  • Review -- Overall, I am pleased with the progress that my life has made over the last year.  It has not been easy, and I have had to deal with a lot of criticism regarding the way I chose to handle the changes in my life.  Many people feel that I am too open and honest about my family situation, my marriage, my hurts, etc.  I don't know -- time will tell if I will live to regret these choices.  I can only say that the person I am today is 100% stronger than the person I was a year ago.  I am confident of the Lord's ability to provide for me, I am trusting in His provision, and I am seeking Him continually for His wisdom and direction.
  • Review -- I am excited about the Lord's work in my life (not just spiritually), and I am eager to begin the plans He has in mind for me.  There is much work to do, and the harvest is ripe, so I am ready to do my part.
So in hindsight, I have made a lot of grievous mistakes.  I trusted people with whom I should not have trusted a nickel; I believed people who were not telling me the truth; and I behaved badly when pushed and pressured to do things I didn't want to do.  I didn't do the right thing, because often I was trying to keep from having to do what others wanted from me.  Had I simply said "no thanks" and walked away, I would have overted the boiling cauldron, and could haved pursued right living.  I know the mistakes I have made -- personally, relationally, and spiritually.  I have confessed, and I have sought forgiveness.  I am free from guilt and condemnation, but I need to remember that Satan likes to continue to condemn us.  I need to stand in God's Grace, and walk in His Blessed forgiveness.

Update: June 2011

As I think about the mistakes I have made over the past years of my life, one thing I am constantly reviewing is whether or not I was totally in control of my judgment or whether I was being influenced by others (well-meaning or not). The truth is that as I look back on my life, I realize that for a fair portion of my younger years, I was heavily influenced by others -- other peoples opinions, advice, and/or permission to do things. As a young adult, I never grasped the seriousness of the fact that I was totally in control of my choices. I believed that I did or said what I was supposed to say or do. Often, my opinion was swayed by what other people thought about me or wanted from me. I was weak-willed, and afraid to say "no" out of fear of rejection.

Now, I am so very different. I have come to learn to take responsibility for my actions, and I know that at times, I still care deeply about what other's think of me. The main difference is that now, while I still care, I do not base my decisions on what another person thinks or wants me to do. The advice may be good, and the idea worthy -- but unless the Lord builds the house -- all who will build in vain. I am determined now to do only those things I feel are Holy Spirit blessed and directed. I may still make errors or false assumptions, and I may go astray a bit -- but generally speaking -- I will be doing so believing in the Lord, and placing my trust in Him. Knowing God the way that I do -- I know He will not allow me to go too far off the mark, and that His Spirit will gently remind me to turn around, head back the other way, or simply wait for His leading.

Now I am in control, and that control rests with the Lord Jesus Christ. I am determined to knowing else but Jesus Christ and Him crucified (my paraphrase of Paul's words!) This means that whatever I do, where ever I go, and what ever job I end up doing, I will be doing it with one intention in mind, and that is to please my Father in Heaven and to bring Him glory through the power of Jesus Christ.

God knows how I have struggled personally over the course of my life, how I have been led astray by well-meaning people (and some not so well-meaning), and how I was naive and very childish early on (thanks to my parents sheltering of me). I learned to grow up the hard way, through bad choices and bad decisions, and I am living with some of the affects of those decisions still. It hurts me to think I blew so many good opportunities in my early life, that my life could have turned out so differently. Yet, here I am and I am living today and not in the past anymore. This means that while I am not pleased with the outcome of my life (the events, etc.), I am pleased with the changes that have been wrought in me due to the blood of Jesus. I am a different person today, and I am fully in control of my destiny. I go where the Lord leads me, and I do what the Lord asks of me. In this way, I am assured that I will end up where He wants me to end up -- finishing the race, running the course, and ending this journey strong and steadfast.

May God be Praised today and forevermore! Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah! (Pause and calmly think of that!)

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