So the new year is upon us. After the beauty of Advent and Christmas day, it is easy to get oneself into a melancholic mood. Celebrating the Christmas season helps, but the dark days (sunset at 4:30!) and an emphasis on what is past can lead me to be a bit down. While planning resolutions is a classic activity at the new year, making them can actually make me dwell on regrets, sins of omission and commission.
What is this feeling of regret telling us? Can you reflect truthfully on the past and see where improvements can be made? Does regret make you 'freeze' and do nothing because the past cannot be changed and the future is sure to be imperfect?
Reflecting on past mistakes & changing for the betterA past mistake of mine is not planning menus. This leads to a lot of waste of time, money and food. It is depressing thinking of the food that I have had to throw out because I have forgotten it is there. My primary resolution is to plan menus and make dinner while I am making breakfast. I could wallow in the regret, but it is time to make a change. I am optimistic that I will be successful with this change. I'll keep you posted.
Dwelling on past mistakes & persisting in those mistakesI could continue with my chaotic kitchen because in the past I haven't planned menus and my husband has gone to work with questionable lunches. I could continue to throw out half-eaten tubs of hummus and defrosted turkeys (there is a downside to being $.75 a pound- people forget you) because I have done that in the past. I could continue on this path because I can't change the past and the future is bound to be imperfect. But dwelling on these mistakes does me no good. A quick reflection on the changes that I need to make is all that is required; then, it is on to improving!
Reflecting on past sin & changing for the betterWhat if the action is sinful in nature? In anger or frustration, I have said 'bad words' in my children's presence. While this action is very infrequent, this is not something I am proud of. I think feelings of anger and frustration are epidemic with moms of young children. What can we do? Reflecting on this sin, we can apologize to the kids and avail ourselves of the sacrament of confession. Maybe we need to understand the cause our frustration. Maybe you need to stop staying up until midnight. Maybe you need to lower your housekeeping expectations and delegate some chores (after you have taught them) to the big kids. Maybe, dare I say it, you need to stop homeschooling the children. If the children live in an environment of constant harsh words and stress, it might be beneficial to go to family counseling. The important point is this- reflect on the sin and then change. Reflect on past problems just long enough to realize what needs to change. Then, change.
Wallowing in past sin & persisting in sinLet's imagine that I frequently say bad words in front of the kids and perhaps even direct them to the kids. Then, I don't apologize, and I don't go to confession. The sin just stays there and steeps like a forgotten teabag. The atmosphere at home gets worse.- maybe even abusive. I get depressed and so do the kids. In any case, the past can't be changed and I might slip up in the future, so why change at all? The kids have heard those hateful words, so it makes no difference if I am a good mom starting today. But through Christ, all is made new. The Catholic Church encourages us all to reflect on our sin but to then give a contrite heart to God in the sacrament of reconciliation. There is no use in wallowing and persisting in sin. Even if we live 100 years, life is too short!
Resolving to be a better mom or cook or wife or Christian should be a hopeful and helpful tool. It should not be a guilt trip or a competition with the fictitious Perfect Catholic Mom(TM) or the celebrity on this month's cover of In Style. There will always be someone better; I just want to be a better me. I am not even going to try to be the best me possible- just better than yesterday. I am going to continue with my Proverbs 31 inspiration for change. I want to start the day with a made bed like Leila and a clean sink like Flylady. And that's it. Through God's grace, 2011 will be a year of faithfulness, consistency and courage in living a more authentic life in Christ.