I prefer ‘daily decisions’, but the turn of another year can prompt helpful reflection and wiser living. Ancient Greek philosopher ‘Socrates’ was convinced that ‘The unexamined life is not worth living!” Not entirely true, but without regular questioning of life and living we can miss seeing ‘the wood for the trees’ and learning from our mistakes & the well-worn wisdom of others.
I love river reflections. But how can we avoid reflection sinking into self-infatuated ‘naval gazing’, like Narcissus, drowning in self-absorption? Narcissus (Greek mythology) fell in love with his own reflection in a pool, not realizing it was only an image. Fixated with the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus was drawn in and drowned. What can save you from such self-centredness and help us more objectively recognise both beauty and flaw within? Seeing a tiny louse (like a flea) on a Lady’s Bonnet at church, with ‘Exocet wit’ Robert Burns wrote,
“O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us, an’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us, an’ ev’n devotion!”
Sometimes we need freed from false and abusive images (reflections) people imposed on us in childhood or / and later in life. It can take a lot of caring time from others to help us see that our self-image is a lie, based on the lies others pasted into us. Counselling can help, but we need to grow families & communities where unconditional love allows honesty and openness with those who can help us hear and see ourselves more compassionately & objectively.
My wife is my best critic & sounding board. Mum, friends and colleagues give me plenty of helpful fluent feedback, and my daily journal forces me to reflect honestly before God. Monthly meets with my mentor (a retired Rev) are invaluable; he lets me rabbit on, asks searching questions and offers wisdom & experience to broaden my thinking. I’m accountable to him for my daily, weekly, monthly, annual ‘Walk with God’, without which I can all too easily get lost in hyper-activity. Quarterly day-retreats are what I need to work harder at carving in 2019. Altogether, it’s about giving God opportunity to show me who I am in Christ and where He wants me.
My recent sabbatical returned me to Irvine with clearer focus for my next stretch. My longtime personal mission statement is ‘To share Jesus’ love, make disciples and help people take steps closer to Jesus.’Priority now is ‘to identify, encourage, mentor & free people for fruitful Kingdom Service’.
Whoever’s helping you to see yourself as God and others see you? May I wish you God’s very best to & through you in 2019! “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”