The last three weeks we have been looking at how we can change our lives so we will have a new ending . . a different, a better life for the rest of our lives.
We have discussed that we can change our lives by doing the following things:
- Cultivate friends who lift us up and support our best self
- Face our problems head on
- Think of our successes and hopes and dreams
- Always try to solve our problems, no matter how difficult
- Don’t hold onto grudges
- Forgive those who hurt us.
We can do wonderful things if we just:
- Don’t dwell in what ‘didn’t happen’
- Don’t hang around with people who drag us down
- Believe in ourselves – thinking we can do something is halfway to doing and being
- Learn from our mistakes, but don’t dwell on them; move past them, remembering what we learned from them
- Be open to new experiences; do not be afraid to try – take a chance!
Now, I want to offer three things that incorporate all the things we have talked about that would make our 2015 the best it can be.
1. We need to make good decisions that will improve our lives.
A good decision is a one we have considered carefully . . .
That benefits us and our growth . . .
That we will stick to . . .
no matter what. . .
no matter what others say. . .
no matter what obstacles we encounter.
One of the decisions we have to make is who we will surround ourselves with; that is probably the hardest decision to make. We may need to cut the ties to those who no longer help us to become better; those that we have spent most of our lives with. We may have to leave those who we have always trusted. We are often let down by the most trusted people and loved by the most unexpected people. Some make us cry for things that we haven’t done, while others ignore our faults and just see our smile. Some leave us when we need them the most, while some stay with us even when we ask them to leave. The world is a mixture of people. We need to know which hand to let go of and which hand to hold!
Life is, after all, learning to hold on to the good and learning to let go of the negative.
2. We need to set five or six goals that we want to happen in 2015.
These goals don’t have to be earthshattering. They can be as small as saying
• we will read a book a month,
• we will help someone in need
• we will go to church regularly
• we will try to eat a little more healthily.
Goal setting is a critical part of the planning for the rest of our lives. Three tips on effectively setting goals are:
1) Write each goal down and mark the date when we want it to happen.
2) Make each goal very specific.
3) Review each goal every month.
Every December, we should write out our goals for the upcoming year; not New Year’s resolutions (which we know we will NOT keep), but goals that we can accomplish. Even though half the year is gone, we can still write out our goals for the remaining months.
3. Do something we’ve never done before.
We need to leave our comfort zone. We need to decide to take risks. There were many things we wish to do, but fear gets in the way. Taking a chance may result in failure, but we have not gained anything if we don’t try. We don’t want to live with regrets knowing that we could have lived a more satisfying life had we taken a few risks along the way.
There are no shortcuts to anything worth doing. Ordinary people achieve immense happiness and incredible feats of success because they step out of their comfort zones and do the hard things that other people don’t have the courage, drive or determination to do. We can’t expect everything to be easy; but we need to start doing the (necessary) hard things today. We will be amazed at just how remarkable we really are and just how fast we can grow.
We need to decide to spend some ‘alone’ time. Being with ourselves is a scary thing to some people, but it gives us insight into our souls, what really matters to us. If only for 10-15 minutes at a time, being alone with ourselves re-energizes us to be able to more effectively handle the rest of the day. And spending time alone allows us to do whatever we want, not bound by society’s idea of how we should live. It frees our souls!
And the most important thing we need to remember is that we are not alone. We have our community, In The Garden, who love and support us in our daily lives; we have other people who give us support and love. And, ultimately, we have the love of God and the knowledge that we are beloved children of God.
God said to his children:
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
And Jesus assured us:
I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
Let us pray:
Heavenly Father, allow me to have the courage to change my life for the better. Let me overcome bad and strengthen the good. Teach me to love with an open heart and open spirit. Bless me with love, strength, wisdom, health, courage, forgiveness, and a willingness to learn. Amen.
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 7 June 2015