Aww! Can I have a do-over?” Have you ever said this? I have - especially in my younger days during a game of miniature golf. I wanted to erase the shot as if it hadn’t happened and just retake it. But there was a flaw in my thinking. Life doesn’t give us do-overs. Nope. What we get is the ability to try again. Instead of pretending the first attempt never occurred, we take what we learned (like: the ball needed to go a little to the left) and we try to accomplish our goal again. Repetition is how we improve, just as practice in any sport.
It is important we live in the present. But if history teaches us anything, it’s to learn from the past. 2017 [and years prior] are gone... over... history. We may feel joy or nostalgia, or both. Yet either way a new day and a new year has dawned. Some of the things we experience may be repetitious on the surface, but underneath, it is, or at least can be, a whole new experience.
For example, in addition to the sports metaphor, consider this: As the season of Ordinary Time begins again what happens as we repeat our liturgical year? I find it’s like re-reading a book or re-watching a movie. We tend to notice things which escaped our attention the first time. [I always do!] Perhaps we find new insight, or uncover the meaning of something we may not have fully grasped the first time. In other words, we go deeper - our awareness and understanding fuller. So as I hear familiar readings, I don’t sense “the same old thing,” rather I find a fresh perspective and a clear message.
I ponder as the sun rises and sets in these January days, I don’t have resolutions quite so much anymore. As Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”* Therefore to protect my sanity (and that of those around me), I am not going to vow to clean the basement or go on a strict diet. I am however going to look toward hope. Yes I have hope: for example, I hope to increase my life in ministry as I expand studies in this spiritual director intern program. I’m also engaging in ways to grow - over declaring another finite goal (like lose 10 pounds or give up chocolate - yeah, right?! But I can cut back and feel good about it.)
In addition, I have hope for: less complexity in exchange for greater appreciation of simple, less junk traded for openness, less rushing swapped for peaceful savoring, less reacting for better understanding and compassion, less worry/anxiety for improved health in so many ways, and less meaningless activity as a gift of time for prayerful reflection and listening. Seems like I’m setting my sights on reduction or “less-ness.” Well sometimes less is more. I’m confident including more serenity both inside and around me will allow God’s gentleness, compassion, and love to permeate and maybe even work through me. I take delight in the idea of radiating His presence through inspiring writing and speaking to convey my deep faith-filled attitude and optimistic trust in His grace.
Yes. So… I decline the old do-over. I’ll rather learn from all that practice and continue with vigor. What do you think? Let’s move forward, not back! Let’s not do the same thing, let’s do it a bit better - maybe slower, or with more quiet, but definitely with healthy energy. I’m full of hope that I can take my prior attempts, my mistakes, my losses and failures, scoop them up, pile them high, stand on them, and reach higher still.
I am creating new heavens and a new earth;
The former things shall not come to mind.
Shout for joy and be glad forever in what I am creating.
Indeed, I create joy and people will delight.
A fresh heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit.
* The authenticity of this quote is often questioned, however most still attribute it to Einstein. https://www.quora.com/Did-Einstein-really-define-insanity-as-doing-the-same-thing-over-and-over-again-and-expecting-different-results
Lillian Corrigan uses writing to learn, inspire and encourage both others and herself. No stranger to devastating, life-altering hardship and loss, she's begun working as a motivational author.