Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Perfect Storm

I wish I could tell you that this has been a 'one and only' instance.  It is not.  It has happened to me more than once.  These periods are times that I look back upon, shudder, and see where I lost my way in one clear instance. 

Each time seems to leave more of an imprint than the time before.  It is like walking through a fire only to find that you aren't invincible.  You are actually burned around the edges once you made it through to the other side.  To me, there is a clear explanation as to how this happens: I tragically and unequivocally lost sight of what is right.

It is the perfect storm. 

Mine is called self-righteousness.  Yours might be called something else.  But, we all have that one unsightly struggle that plagues us. 

{your ingredients can vary and can include one or all of the list below}
1 part self-righteousness
1 part frustration
1 part losing sight of God's way
1 part jealousy
1 part destructive words or feedback
1 part selfishness
1 part judgment

You put yourself out there.  You turned away from the light that serves as your guide.  You chose to consider only your needs rather than think there are other people in the room, house, business, etc.  You took one step, then another, and another and now you are all alone and you want to wash it all away. 

In that moment, I looked around and realized that I had turned my back on my God and His word.  It's as if I was in a high-school relationship.  I said, "Listen God, it's not you, it's me! You are great, but I need some space."

The past is our definition. 
We may strive, with good reason, to escape it,
or to escape what is bad in it,
but we will escape it only by adding something better to it. 
~Wendell Berry

It's like looking back in the rearview mirror of your car.  Remember the little lingo at the bottom...objects are closer than they appear.  Many times, these moments are the only thing you see in your rearview mirror.  You feel ashamed or embarrassed enough to let these past events define who you are for months, years, or a lifetime.  You let the past become the definition of who you are.  But, really, you are so much more. 

Maybe the things that happened out of self-righteousness have become your story.  We all have stories.  Some are fairy-tale like and others are true horror stories.  But, then when we turn to the Bible it seems as if within each blessed book there are stories of redemption. 

Imagine the blood, sweat, and tears of Moses and his people leaving behind their days in Egypt, being held in slavery, to make a covenant with God and venture to the Promised Land.  Those are moments when something good comes out of the bad.  These are the times when one is changed from their old ways through God's grace.

We cannot direct the wind; but can adjust the sails.
When we cannot change the circumstances,
we must change ourselves.
~Author Unknown
But perhaps, you would rather look back to American history for redemption.  Imagine for a moment those citizens of another land that boarded ships of every shape and size in every generation to come to a new and better country.  They left all behind to live a better life full of prosperity.  These immigrants may have sailed passed the Statue of Liberty, which embodies hope for a bright future.  In that moment, each passenger may have thrown away the past vowing only to look forward to better times. 

Sure, it will take a bit of hard work to live the good life.  Nothing comes easy. 

In whom we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.
~Ephesians 1:7

This same redemption from the past is waiting around the corner for each of us.  By walking away from the moments than have grown over time to define who we are, we can look ahead for our own beacon of hope.  We can take the past and begin to realize it for what it is.  The past.  It can't be changed.  Perhaps it would have been best if it had never happened, but none of us has the power to change it. 

Yet, we all have the ability to define our outlook for what is ahead.  Perhaps, it happened for the best.  Maybe, by walking through the fire once, you have saved yourself from walking that way again.

That is the challenge we face, I believe: Sometimes, only to survive, only to endure, but mostly, to believe that we are blessed and not cursed. To see the challenges we face in life and not trivialize them or dismiss them, but also to see them as opportunities for growth.  Opportunities that will help us to lead lives of greater fullness, richness, and depth, opportunities that might even inspire us to make the world more loving and just.

What you need to know about the past is that no matter what has happened,
it has all worked together to bring you to this very moment. 
And this is the moment you can choose to make everything new. 
Right now.
~Author Unknown

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