Look Forward and Up, not Back

This is the first day of the new year and I am promising myself to look forward and up, and not back.

I don’t make resolutions, so I don’t think my decision can qualify as such, but it is a decision, a decision which will be very difficult to do, I might add, but it is necessary. I have to look forward and up because if I don’t, I will get stuck in the past.

What I want most of all is for my life and my work to make a difference, even now, though I am not a spring chicken! I still believe that miracles happen, no matter one’s age. I still believe there is talent and are gifts inside me I have yet to birth. I cannot afford to get stuck.

Iyanla Vanzant has said that in order to grow, people have to “do the work.”  She wrote, in her New Year’s message, “Do not be a slave to what “used to be” be open and willing to be do a new thing in a new way.  It about a new level so STEP UP with your head up!”  Moving forward and up means looking in, which is never pleasant, and yet, doing the work needed to keep our focus where it needs to be involves looking in and seeing what is there, not what we wish were there. It is, frankly, a “yucky” exercise, this looking in, but after the yuck comes release from something that has kept us from being our true, authentic and gifted selves.

What I want is, in spite of my weaknesses and foibles, to make a difference for somebody. I can give something, some part of myself, to someone who is struggling, who is sad or lost. I can share what I have and add something to someone else’s life.  I am fairly reclusive, but I can ditch some of that and share what I have been given by God.

As I write this, I am thinking about how many people are struggling on this, the first day of a new year. I am struggling, but my struggle is nothing compared to what others are going through. I have a friend whose son is critically ill; he was in and out of the hospital so many times last month that I wondered how my friend was holding on. Yesterday she called and said he was in the hospital again …on the eve of a New Year. She cried. I cried with her. She said, “I so wanted him NOT to be in the hospital on New Year’s Eve.” I can share some of myself with her.

I have another friend who lost her mother three weeks ago…and her mother last week. I have had a lot of loss in my life. My mother, father and sister have died. As a pastor, I have lost so many people I loved. I can share with my friend, who, at 52, had never lost anyone close.

I think it was Deepak Chopra who wrote that there are no bad experiences; what we call “bad” are really life lessons. And I have learned that we waste good lesson time if we do not study what happened, do the dreaded “look inside” exercise, and learn the lesson or lessons we were supposed to learn. Another friend of mine calls the experiences that come from bad times “blessons.” A blessing and a lesson, rolled into one. Looking at my own struggles as “blessons” helps them to be bearable, and encourages me to get on with my life, to look up and forward …and not back.

My friend with the sick son sits today in a hospital where she sat all night at his bedside. She is afraid to leave. I am sort of afraid to go to her, because I don’t want to see her hurt …and yet, part of looking forward and up is about seeing who’s out there who can use what I have. I have lots of compassion. I can share that.,

I will be writing out my goals, personal and professional, for 2013 later today. Part of the plan is to look up and forward. In everything I do, I will have to make sure those two things are being done. I am going to force myself not to look back. I am going to leave what’s behind …”back there,” take my blessons, put them in a place close to my heart …and move as God directs.

I think people who make a difference in the world must do that sort of thing, don’t you think? I do…

A candid observation …

What is your next chapter?

What is going to be “the next chapter” of your life?

It hit me last night that I really need to step out of my comfort zone in a big way. I have always known that, but last night, the magnitude of that necessity hit me in the middle of a sound sleep.

I woke up.

The truth of the matter is that we get so comfortable being uncomfortable.  Discomfort has a comfort of its own which we do not like to acknowledge, but it is there, and it paralyzes us.

We lose the right to complain about our circumstances if we refuse to move. If I have a cut and keep pouring salt in it, it seems rather foolish to complain about the pain, right? If I want the pain to stop, I have to stop pouring in the salt.

We so often insist upon pouring salt into our own wounds, our situations, and then we complain. When I woke up last night, I realized my complicity in my angst. I realized that some of what I carry as angst, I carry because I have chosen to keep pouring salt in old wounds.

The death of my sister jostled me. How in the world could one so young go away, be taken by illness? She had the spirit of a fighting hawk; death took her, but not easily. Yet, she is gone, her chances to stop pouring salt into her wounds gone.

It is as if God said to me, “Well, what will YOU do?”

I would bet that God is asking a lot of us that question, not because it is the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one, but because God really wants more of us to “become’ what God created us to be.  It is not about resolutions, which seem flippant, but about conviction about who we are and what we were put here to do.

We have a limited amount of time. When I felt the divine jostle, I knew what God was saying to me.

The chapters of most of our lives fall into a mundane hum. Many to most of us exist as opposed to living. We take everything for granted, from the breaths we take to the days of life we are granted.

Yet, God wants us all to have a “next chapter,” a chapter which will be different from what we have had up until now. God wants us to “be’ what God created us to be, to contribute what God put in us to contribute.

The best thing is that no matter how old we are, as long as we have breath and life, we have a chance to begin the next chapter. Even if we cannot finish the chapter, we need all to begin it. We ought to love ourselves and our potential enough to look into what God sees in us.

Even if one is an atheist, there is a “higher power’ than the “here and now,’ something which can encourage us to reach for the stars even though we may only reach the moon. The important thing is that we reach.

What is your next chapter? All of us have a “next chapter.’

That would be a candid observation.