The Time-Out Chair, Donuts, and Forgiveness
I’m in favor of New Year Resolutions and I’m not ashamed to say it. I believe in the clean slate of a fresh calendar year. I’m not sure if it’s the thrill of buying a new paper calendar I won’t actually write in, or the sugar hangover of holiday eating, but Jan 1 feels like just the right time to pull myself together and resolve to do life better. But I don’t start my new goals on Jan 1st. Nope, the morning after the shiny ball drops, I eat leftover cookie-cake, drink artificially sweetened carbonated goodness and put myself in a time-out chair for a few days.
Time out chairs aren’t just for tantrum prone two year olds. In fact, as my kids get older (11yrs & 8 yrs), I find “time out” a helpful tool for ALL of us. “Mom needs a time out” is not uncommon as I’m trying to navigate life with a tween girl and a strong willed boy.
The same goes for my New Year time out. I take a few days to reflect, instead of quickly charging back into the world making the same choices expecting different results. These are the three questions I ask:
- What went well that I want to continue? 2. What needs improvement?
The answers for the first two questions typically come to mind pretty quickly. In 2014, I exercised more consistently than ever. We paid off substantial debt. We ate family dinner (at home) more than in 2013. These are things I’m pleased about and want to continue. I also spent 2014 working, sleeping, and eating my way through difficult relationship circumstances. I’m guessing that’s why I gained ten pounds instead of losing it. (Oooops, so much for that ’14 goal.) I connected with friends less, distanced myself from God, stopped blogging, and buried my hurt in work and carpool…and yeast glazed donuts. So yeah, improvement potential here.
- What needs forgiveness?
This is the most important question. The one that puts spring back into my step after disappointment and hurt. I’m careful here to say “what” instead of “who”. We forgive actions done by people. Transgressions are the sin, not the people. This has helped me tremendously to genuinely love and care for those who have hurt me. It also reminds me to resist the temptation to define myself by the mistakes I’ve made. There will always be consequences of sin. Some consequences we will have to live with forever and others we can remedy. But love does not require a perfect record.
There is a short sentence in the Bible (Romans 5:8) that says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Please catch the word ‘while’. He did not wait for perfect behavior or a make-it-up-to-me offering, he loved and extended forgiveness in the messy, confusing, painful world where people sin. I want to love the way God loves. The best way to accomplish this is to extend genuine forgiveness to others and myself.
Who have I hurt in my fierce independence? Who have I ignored or forgotten because I didn’t give myself margin in my schedule? Who is seeking my forgiveness, but I haven’t fully offered it yet? For what have I not forgiven myself? How am I going to ask for or extend these forgiveness?
Do not let the fresh start of a New Year pass without going to the time out chair. Reflect on what went well, what didn’t, and forgiveness. After reflection, take action.
Celebrate. Resolve. Forgive.
Cheers to 2015!