The holidays, especially New Year’s, is a great time for me to remind myself of the need to get my process right. It is equally a good time to remind myself of the dangers of chasing projects in the belief they will get me where I want to go. Process not projects. Promise not resolutions.
So I am taking the next few days to revisit my process as you’ve seen in the recent posts. Wonder, Work, Rinse, Repeat.
I started with Xmas, reminding myself of what it means to me. Xmas is the birth of forgiveness, a time to remind myself that whether or not Christ is the Son of God, he died for my sins. Why? Because He knew carrying around that judgment, the search for approval, the shame we feel about ourselves too often implodes on people. They look for escape in all the wrong places. Too often, they also lead us to forget our own promise and make us less likely to make promises to others that we will keep. The punishment of Adam and Eve was not their knowledge of their nakedness, but the shame that came along with it. No matter what the philosophical or religious message or intent, I believe he died for my sins and I honor that everyday by confronting them.
In his book about surgical residency, Charles Bosk proposed a ingenious process for forgiveness. My preparation for the coming year reminded me of this brilliant book. This simple process– Forgive and Remember.
Forgive yourself. Forgive the people in your life, but remember what you learned. If you hurt someone, try to understand why you did so. If someone hurt you, remember why you allowed them to do so. My experience is you will find one thing in common in all of these. You lost sight of what really matters in life. I know this is true for me. In fact, I can attribute every petty thing I have ever done, every hurtful thing I have allowed to be done to me, to listening to the con game.
I’ve had some very good teachers in my life, but can honestly say that unless you’ve met them, you have not heard of them. They are most often women with little in their lives. A woman who watched my dogs for me, a woman who was there whenever I needed help, a woman who reminded me to smile, and a woman who showed me her promise and in doing so showed me mine.
It is not the little things in life that matter, just the simple things. Elegance as described by Brian Greene– things as powerful as they are simple.
I am allowing the Xmas spirit to live for a few extra days this year. I am forgiving the people in my life who have hurt me, but I am also understanding why I was in such a vulnerable place to allow it to happen. I am forgiving myself for hurting others. Where it is possible, I am reaching out to them and apologizing and asking what service I might be to them. Where I can help, I do, but I do not do what they want, I do not make a promise unless it is in line with my own promise. I won’t make promises I can’t keep.
Forgive and remember. This is the Rinse part of my process.
Some quick thoughts for forgivcness. Forgive yourself if you are alone. Forgive yourself if you are broke. Forgive yourself if you hurt someone close to you. Forgive yourself if you have not taken good care of yourself. Forgive yourself if you made a mistake. Forgive yourself if you don’t know enough. Forgive yourself if you are not good at something you were not meant to do. Forgive yourself if you bought too much house. Forgive yourself if you got scammed. Forgive yourself if you cannot sleep. Forgive yourself if you still hear the voice in your head. Forgive yourself if you’ve lost sight of your promise.
In and of itself, though forgiveness is simply another project. It must be part of a process which is why I am thankful New Year’s follows so closely to Xmas. Forgive yourself, but remember the lessons. New Year’s is the time to start the process, not with resolutions, but with your own promise. New Year’s is more than a chance to have a Happy New Year. If your processes didn’t work this year, they won’t work next year. My own belief, what I hope to live is a powerful year, one in which I find and do what matters.
In the end, whatever that is, my hope is to stand naked and unashamed next to God. It is not about covering our nakedness with clothing, with good works, with positive thinking. It is trust that we have lived the best we knew how. And when we fail, it is being able to forgive ourselves and others, to be held accountable, but never judged.
We must forgive and remember and pursue our promise. My promise is your promise. And I hope this helps each of you.
Wonder, Work, Rinse, Repeat.