This is the time of the year when we are all laying them on paper, isn’t it? Yes, I mean our plans for the New Year – for some it is buying a new house, for others it is getting married, losing weight, being parents, getting that awaited promotion, improving relationships, the list is certainly endless. My list was all mapped out. It was long. Well, that was until last evening. Today, it is very long – even longer.
See, yesterday, I read something that changed all my plans for 2010. As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table. His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom. Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over. “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.”
My initial reaction to reading this was the usual. I stood in judgement of the Pharisees and their hypocrisy. Then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how easy it is to dwell on the more apparent things and neglect the more important things. My list for the New Year came to mind. I went through it. I am ashamed and embarrassed to admit that it had a lot of plans that involved cleaning the outside of the cup and the dish and reflected very little worry about the inside. Suddenly, I couldn’t judge those Pharisees anymore, because I realized just how easy it is to become a hypocrite, and more importantly, how easy it is NOT to realize that you are one.
Now, my list has grown to include and give emphasis to keeping my inside clean, improving and in some instances changing completely the very things about me that aren’t perfect and that no one knows about, the things I think about, the opinions I form, you get the point. So, dear friend, in making that New Year resolution to improve your marriage, instead of only planning to buy your husband or wife more presents and going on romantic getaways, plan to also stop nursing those fantasies you have in secret about your colleague. Yes. No one knows about them, they are just thoughts. But, those thoughts take away from the time you could spend focusing on your spouse’s positive qualities. They are an escape that harms and dirties the inside of your cup and dish. Sooner or later, that damage and dirt are going to affect the outside and end up destroying all the positive work you did on the outside.
Instead of worrying only about shedding the kilos and becoming healthier this year, also worry about shedding the weight of the grudges you hold. Make forgiving the man who abused you for years your top priority for 2010.I can just imagine you asking. “Is she insane? Does she even know what the man put me through?” No I don’t know and I don’t need to know. All I know is, unless you forgive him and therefore reclaim control over your life, he continues and will continue to abuse you. And, should you question yourself and ask yourself how you are going to manage forgiving him, remember that you survived his abuse. You are strong. It’s about time the inside of your cup sparkled with hope and joy.
And, as for you who are pursuing that promotion at work, instead of only focusing on performing better, arriving earlier that everyone, leaving later than all, impressing your bosses, also plan not lying to your bosses anymore, being more patient and less judgemental of those colleagues in your team who have a less important position than you, but who contribute to your success through their dedication to your team. You will find that respect tastes a lot sweeter when it’s earned rather than imposed.
I get that it’s a lot more gratifying to worry about the things on the outside. They are apparent to others. You get to score points for the things you do, people appreciate you more, admire you more, accept you more. However, the satisfaction you get from that appreciation, admiration and acceptance only lasts as long as the compliment last. The truth of the matter is, you spend more time with yourself than you do with anyone else. If you don’t take care of your inner self, the person you are when no one is looking, so that you end up appreciating, admiring and accepting yourself more, sooner or later, it won’t matter what others think of you. The baggage you carry inside – the self-loathing, the guilt, will take away from the appreciation, admiration and acceptance of others.
Think about that when you make plans for 2010!