An occasion for fresh hope

This time of year is a natural one for self-assessment. If you’re still in school, the end of the spring semester lends itself to reflecting on the year’s accomplishments and stumbling blocks and setting new goals for the next term. If you’re beyond school, old habits die hard, and the rhythm of the lives of children becomes the rhythm of the lives of parents, too. And, if you’re a parent sitting in the seats at a graduation ceremony, I challenge you not to reflect on where you’ve come since you wore a cap and gown.

 

If you’re a woman, particularly, beware of the mean girl who lives in your head. As you begin to assess, don’t let her have her way. Instead of frowning in consternation at the choices you made that you’d know you would not repeat if given the chance to do it again, give thanks for the wisdom earned from the consequences. Learning comes at a cost — always. You’ve made some good choices, too. Give them their moments to shine in your accounting. It seems as if it’s always the troublemaker that gets all the attention, even in our interior dialogues.

Instead of bemoaning the baby weight that means there’s no chance your previous wardrobe fits, take a walk with the baby. What? Your baby is 5 now? That’s fine. Still call it “baby weight” and challenge each other to a running race. The gray hair? It’s glitter, and those years are truly gold.

Just for today, don’t let your interior dialogue go negative. Let the springtime and the promise of summer be an occasion for fresh hope instead of the lamenting of botched opportunity. Instead of focusing on the hundred end-of-school-year things you have to do and the 88 of them you won’t get to, slow down and call that friend you’ve loved so well this year. Celebrate each other.

Instead of ruefully scolding yourself for still being the girl who couldn’t get it all together when she was 16, sit back and look how far you’ve come. Look at who you really are — the deep-down-inside-you girl who can’t be measured by the media or Instagram or people on podiums. Be kind to that girl and tell her that God has called her to Himself and made her His own. She is named (See Isaiah 43:1). She is beloved (See Song of Songs, over and over again).

As you do that inevitable self-assessment, don’t miss the little ways that you’ve loved well, all the quiet, unheralded moments that you’ve met a need and wiped a tear and held a heart in your hands. Stop fussing with that to-do list. Stop worrying about the things not yet done. Trust that He who has begun this good work in you will bring it to completion (See Philippians 1:6). We are not the sum of the check marks on our daily lists or the diplomas and degrees conferred upon us in recognition of completing those long-term goals. We are each a unique creation made in the image of God to bring His glory to the world. It takes a lifetime of love, one small act of faith at a time.

Go buy yourself a bouquet of flowers. Go treat yourself to a cup of something wonderful with whipped cream on top. Go speak kindness into your own heart. You are faithful on the journey and He is well pleased with your effort.

Foss, whose website is elizabethfoss.com, is a freelance writer from Northern Virginia.

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

@elizabethfoss