Happy New Year! It's 2010...can you believe it? It seems like we just ushered in the new millineum and yet when I look back over the past ten years I see how many things have radically changed for me and my family and I know it took years to arrive where I am today. I bet you can say the same. Interesting thing about the New Year is it represents the traditional time when many people re-evaluate their lives and themselves and make resolutions to become better persons with more productive habits. I know for my husband and my kids we always put together our individual lists entitled "goals for the new year". Somehow setting goals makes more sense to me than getting rid of old habits or trading them for new ones. The good news is this: it doesn't matter how you approach it, goals or resolutions, we all have a chance to start over. And not just on January 1st! Christ came so that we could have a new start minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, or year by year. In Philippians 3:12-14 St.Paul shares with us how he regarded his past and faced his future: "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
Are you holding on to something from your past that is keeping you from a brilliant, productive future? Maybe it is time to clean out the cobwebs of your soul and start fresh.
Before the Christmas holidays we were discussing my husband's new book, "Leaning Into God When Life Is Pushing You Away." We talked about guilt and how it can keep you from a close relationship with God and others. Today I will address the issue of shame. The psychologist Norman Wright wrote that the difference between guilt and shame is that guilt says "I made a mistake" while shame says "I am a mistake." I have also heard it said "I did something bad" vs. "I am bad." Shame can cut us to the very core and it can draw a deep line which separates us from our loving God who wants to have a relationship with us. It can make us feel like we are unworthy of such a relationship and so we continue to hide or run away from God instead of leaning into Him.
The first people to ever deal with shame were Adam and Eve. I'm sure you know the story. They disobeyed God by eating from the tree of good and evil and then they felt deep shame. It was so bad that even they hid from God but of course no one can hide from God for long. He knows everything. God opened their eyes to the fact that they were without clothes but He also provided a way out for them by providing them with clothes. He always provides a way to escape from our shame. In the new testament Peter denied Christ and yet when Jesus first saw Peter again following the betrayal how did Jesus respond to him? He told him to " take care of my lambs, take care of my sheep, feed my sheep." John 21:15-17 He was telling Peter not to waste his time on the guilt or shame of his past mistakes but instead he told him what to do so that he could face his future with a purpose for living.
I believe a major way to get rid of the shame in your life is to make sure you are fulfilling your God-given purpose. (I also must say, depending on the your circumstances you may even need to seek psychological counseling) Once you know your purpose you will be so busy fulfilling it at work, with your family, with your friends, and in all aspects of your life that you won't have time to entertain the negative thoughts of your past failures and mistakes. If you aren't sure what your purpose is I want to encourage you to take the steps necessary so you can find out. From there you can write your own personal mission statement. My life's mission and purpose is this: "Connecting people one to another for common, Christ-centered, worthwhile goals." Since I know what my purpose is I can rest assured that no matter how my outside life circumstances might change as long as I follow my calling, I can find purpose. A book that helped me write my mission statement was "The Path" by Laurie Beth Jones. I did this a few years ago and I am sure by now there are plenty of other good resources. Although it might take you some time to get your mission statement down to something meaningful yet concise. Believe me , it will be worth the effort.
Discover the purpose for your life and you will grown even closer to God knowing that He is your partner through all things. Also, remember that God keeps no record of wrongs so each minute you can start fresh. Wishing you great things in 2010 or "Begin again in 2010."
God is blessing you always in all things, Donna