Friday, May 30, 2014

Week 20: Learn from past mistakes

It’s graduation season.

Last week, I attended a local high school graduation. The ceremony was held in the school stadium at 5:30 in the afternoon – a very SUNNY afternoon. For just over an hour I was squeezed like a sardine on a concrete bleacher and slowly dissolving under the sun’s spotlight.

I’m convinced I melt. Seriously…

Oppressive heat scrambles my cognitive function, dramatically limiting my ability to concentrate. Although preoccupied by my own misery, that afternoon, I managed to focus long enough to hear when the name of the graduate I was there to celebrate was called and this advice:

“Learn from your past mistakes to improve your life now and in the future.”

In those few minutes I wished I could have been transported back in time to my high school graduation, with someone standing behind a podium sharing those simple words of wisdom with my 18 year old self. I’m not even sure I would have paid attention back then. Not sure those 18 year olds paid attention on that hot Wednesday afternoon, either.

For years I lived under the ominous cloud of my past, feeling unworthy of simple things like good jobs and healthy relationships because of the guilt of previous mistakes or poor decisions. Subconsciously, I thought past mistakes defined who I was, and I acted accordingly.

In time, I began to learn valuable lessons from my past. Notably, I learned that mistakes are universal. Everyone makes them. Although some mistakes felt paralyzing and the shame alone threatened to bury me, I learned I could recover and move forward.

The most important lesson I learned of all was this:

The mistakes we make are only WHAT we’ve done. They are NOT WHO we are.

I believe a large part of “being completely you” rests in our ability to make peace with past mistakes and confidently move forward, armed with the wisdom of lessons learned. We can use what we’ve done to do just as the speaker encouraged the graduates to do on that steamy Wednesday afternoon – “improve life, both now and in the future.”

I pray, if you haven’t already, you will come to a place of peace with past mistakes. I encourage you to take some time to ponder them, mine them for hidden lessons, and then use those lessons to pave a better path for your today and for your tomorrow.

Until next week.   

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Winding Road

That day it seemed to be April showers in March, you might say. Leaving the physician’s office, the clock on the car dash struck rush hour o’clock. The afternoon ushered in an angry rain, and there I was, trapped in the middle of the downpour. The matter at hand now was to bypass the traffic jam sprawled before me. In my neck of the woods, when used together in a sentence rain and traffic become like two four-letter words of the foulest kind. They have a collaboration reputation worse than oil and water.

“Oh Lord, please get me home safely,” I prayed.

The gridlock started in the parking lot, and the herd of cars oozed onto the street like a big blob of gook. Making good use of the standstill, I inquired of Google maps for clues to an alternate route home. All brake lights seem to be headed east so by golly I wanted my brake lights to flash the peace sign as I headed WEST. I found a route just as the traffic began to crawl. So I turned left instead of right and allowed the female voice on the other end of the map to guide me home.

Although I’ve been in this great city for many years, there are still many roads I’ve not traveled. I love new routes. The scenery is fresh and new, and this path did not disappoint. The slick, road coiled before me like a snake in a rainforest. Grand stately homes seemed to rise up out of the lush green forest-like setting, complete with tall Georgia pine trees and blankets of ivy. The road was lined with gated entrances and steep dramatic cliffs. There was so much to see along this new route, but the near blinding rain forced my gaze into a locked position straight ahead.

Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. – Proverbs 4:25

At the time, my husband and I were walking through a YouVersion bible reading plan entitled “Marriage: A Lifelong Journey.” As the scripture that accompanied the day’s devotion whispered to me, a smile softened my face.

Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil. – Proverbs 4:26, 27

The sky was gray and darkened. The road was unfamiliar and windy. The rain was fierce and unapologetic. Wisdom encouraged me to remain alert, undistracted and to pay close attention to the road ahead of me. Gazing too long to my right, to my left or even behind me could have dangerous consequences.

And such, I do believe, is the lifelong journey of marriage. This is certainly a new and unfamiliar road for me. I expect the road to be long and windy, filled with great scenery – rich, lush landscape, gated entrances on one side and steep cliffs on the other. At some points, rain will fall and the sky may grow dim. But we should keep our eyes focused on the road ahead at all times. Not allowing our gaze to linger to our right or to our left and certainly not looking back. Instead we should watch the path of our feet, right there in front of us, and all our ways will be established.

I made it home safely that day, and I have taken the same route again since then. Of course the same scripture lesson always comes to mind. Words to live by in marriage and in life, don’t you agree?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just Because

I’m lying on my bed, listening to the rain and reflecting on my day.  Well, I won’t be doing that by the time you read this, but that’s what I’m doing at this moment.  🙂

How are you?  I mean really….  How are you?  I feel that when you read that, at least one of you had something specific enter your mind.  If you’re up to it, I’d love for you to share.  Leave me a comment.  If you’re reading this through your email, click on the title to this post.  It will take you over to my blog home.  Then, just beneath the date (located to the left of the post title) is a link for comments.  Click on it and type away.  (If you’re reading this directly from the site, then you’re already halfway there.)  If you have a prayer request, leave me that, too, ok?  Ok!  🙂

I entered this day in excruciating pain and found myself post up outside an urgent care center before the sun took its place in the sky.  Yes, as soon as they unlocked the doors and flipped the “closed” sign to “open”, I was at the counter, signing in!  LOL… Your sister was in pain!!

On the drive over to the center, my thoughts drifted (as they often seem to do on these occasions) to “why”.  You know the routine.  Something bad or challenging is happening in your life, and the first thing you do is, what I like to call, reach for the “Why cry”.  Why is this happening to me?  Why is this happening to me NOW?  Girlfriends, I reached for the “why cry” this morning! LOL..  In mid-whine, I heard calmly, sweetly, and matter-of-factly in my ear, “Because”.

HUH??

“Because.”

Now that’s an interesting concept, isn’t it?  Maybe the Lord allowed my pain, my unwelcome deviation to my schedule, and my unwanted deviation to my BUDGET all just because.

So, thanks to the lesson I learned from the crazy Saturday I told you about last week (if you missed it, you can click here to check it out), I knew just how to re-group, even in the midst of my pain.  I began to think on these things:

1.  Thanks to a back sprain over the summer, a visit to an urgent care center in a totally different state, and a trip to the hair salon a couple of weeks ago, I knew just where to go, this morning, to find an urgent care center in my neighborhood.  Trust me, these components are truly all related, and they made my morning SO much easier than it otherwise may have been.

2.  Knowing exactly where to go this morning (in the midst of great pain, remember) reminded me, again, that God has planned ALL of my days.  He’s not surprised by anything that comes my way.  IF I pay attention, I will be able to follow in the footsteps He’s already ordered for me – whether it’s a good day or a challenging one.  I get so full just thinking about this beautiful truth.

3.  Although I wasn’t expecting to spend a few hundred bucks on a shoulder sprain this week (or any other week, for that matter AND what’s up with all of the muscle sprains, anyway!!! LOL…), I had the money.  PRAISE THE LORD, I had the money!  That’s not the story for some, and it wasn’t the story for me a short while ago.  However, even during that season, the Lord always provided.  The Lord WILL ALWAYS provide!  It’s His word and His part of His essence.

Today, these three tiny things translated into three tiny words from my heavenly Father to me.

“I Love You!”

My sweet sisters, let me tell you this.  Hearing “I love you” made hearing “because” just a little bit more bearable.  So the next time you hear “because”, stop, look and listen closely.  “I love you” will be right there in the mix, and I promise it will get you through the day and even through the pain. 🙂

Wise, Virtuous, Valuable,