I gaze into the mirror and look beyond my physical reflection. I stare into my soul, my psyche, my heart. Defining moments stare back at me. I turn the pages of my memory scrapbook. A timeline of memories flood my consciousness; pieces of every person I have met in my search for answers, significance, and wholeness. The pages are etched with lessons of life with many repeated because I did not learn the first time. Albeit, many lessons were repeated the second and third time; learning, unlearning, and relearning. If only I could begin life over with my forty-six years of collective experiences, wisdom, and knowledge. But not for the purpose of acquiring more money and possessions, more power and privilege, more education and degrees. I would spend the time learning how to be in relationships. Words would be said and words would be unsaid. I would spend more time with God Ė a father and a teacher. God is the author of truth.
Regrets linger. I would not have wasted time envying the intelligence, beauty, fame, and talents of strangers. I would have made peace with my character flaws, hidden sins, and family secrets in the younger years.
I would have accepted that a personal ego is healthy as long as it is controlled. Self-confidence does not negate humility.
I would have embraced Godís grace and mercy. I would have practiced swift forgiveness of self and forgiveness of others. My pockets would be emptied of judgmental stones. I would have stood guard against legalistic religiosity, doctrines of destruction, and guilt-producing theology. Hatred of the human body is not a requirement of God, but of cultist religious zealots. In youth, it is easy to be lead astray by charismatic leaders, well-meaning friends, and the search for enlightenment.
I would have given away more kindness. I would have cultivated daily humility. Most importantly, I would have shown the same compassion and kindness to myself that Iíve shown to others. Iím glad life is full of second chances. Iím glad I serve a God of second changes.
Learning and living self-acceptance, self-care, and self-love is both exhilarating and surreal. Being comfortable with your personality and your sense of humor leads to the destination of contentment. I have chased the happiness train, believing that happiness is a state of being, when in fact; itís connected to emotions that ebb and flow, come and go.
I have learned so many lessons in my journey to understand humanity and myself. How I react to others is more about me and less about them. I have choices and sometimes itís a choice of attitude. I can agree to disagree about your opinions with politeness and respectfulness. People of other cultures are more alike than different. Elderly folks are full of fascinating stories. Blessed are those who are flexible for they shall not break. A gentle response deescalates anger. Wisdom is found in proverbs, quotes, and sayings. Balance in all things is healthy. Words can be gracious gifts or poisonous arrows. Humor is a lifesaver. Nature is a playground of serenity. Family is shelter from lifeís storms. Being able to process the dayís events with your trusted spouse is a form of therapy. Godís meaning of success is different from the worldsí definition. Sound physical and mental health is more precious then gold and silver. Comparing your traits to others causes superiority or inferiority and neither is sensible.
As time passes I am more willing to shoot truth serum into my veins in order to ask the hard questions. What would the people closest to me, say about me? Am I nurturing relationships? Am I sharing my inside with the outside? Am I ďbeingĒ more than ďdoing?Ē Am I working on my character flaws? Do I spend time with the things I say I value? Am I reevaluating my high expectations of others and accepting their personhood and flaws? When I take inventory at the end of each day, do I strive to improve the next day? Do I live in the here-and-now?
A few years ago, I experienced a meltdown with some physical health issues. I found meaning in exhaustion; the necessity of rest. I took a three-month timeout and slept, relaxed, watched TV. Insight into my workaholism had visited in earlier times, but insight without response and change is only insight. Work is therapeutic but so is recreation and relaxation. God created us to work, but He also created us to rest. Balance is the word of the day.
When I look into Godís mirror, what do I see? When I shoot Godís truth serum into my veins, what happens? How does God see me?