We make resolutions after resolution every year but we seldom keep them. Sometimes, we get upset and frustrated with ourselves for failing to keep our promises. We are very eager to change and amend our ways or do something different but still we find it difficult to do so. I have done the same with my life and many a times, have failed like you. However, for the past several years I have stopped making resolutions. Instead of making these resolutions, which are often meant in trying to make changes in my life, my attitudes and my ways based on my past track record, I have decided to focus on shaping my future to create new attitudes and new lifestyle by which I desire to live by. I cannot change the past but I can shape the future. The future is within my time frame and I wish to mould my life towards this future. By focusing on my future, I need to visualize it and create a clear vision by which my life will be shaped. The clearer the vision of my life, my paradigm, the easier and stronger shape it will be formed. I am challenged to gear my whole energy to align my whole self, my strength, my thoughts and my feelings in unison with my whole person, becoming and taking shape as it should be in the future. Realizing this, I have decided not to make plans of what to do, but what I wish and desire to become. Here, I wish to share with you all some ways, which you and I can shape our lives.
1. Power of Blessing
Every year, we have the reading taken from the book of Numbers, of which speaks of the blessings from God. It is a blessing which comes from God and should be passed on from generation to generation. It should be transmitted down to our children and from them to their children and so forth. It is indeed an appropriate reading for all Christians as we head towards a new year, a new beginning. To bless and to be blessed is a right starting point as we step into the New Year. To feel the blessings of God and to impart the blessings to others is the hallmark of Christian community. To begin with, we should feel we are indeed blessed. Our whole life is blessed by God. We not only know this in mind, but we should feel from deep within and grow in deeper conviction of this feeling to the point that it should be oozing out literally. When we get out from our bed, the first thought that should emerge is the thought of blessing and the feeling of blessed. I feel I am blessed not because of my virtues but because God has made us as blessed. This is what it means by ‘having been created in God’s image and likeness’. In fact throughout our life, we should allow this thought and feeling of blessed to surface as frequent as possible so that the whole fragrance of blessedness will radiate. Naturally, this will lead us to share this power of blessing with others. We have received, lived and now we give to others.
2. Grace of Gratitude
Stop wallowing in self-pity! There is no end to this and we are wasting too much of our time on it. We do not know how fortunate we are until we see someone else’s misery. I am sure we have heard this quote, “I used to complain I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet.” I love that quote! It’s such a great reminder to re-focus our minds from complaining about what we don’t have to focusing on what we do have. Many people choose to focus on what they do not have, rather than focus on what they have and what they are capable of. Being grateful is a little thing we can do to drastically improve our moods, and our whole days. In fact, grace of gratitude is the ability to recognize and acknowledge in ourselves what was initially intended by God, that God in the very beginning created the whole creation and exclaimed as “Good” (cf. Gen 1). As we express and live in the grace of gratitude, we align ourselves with the original initial intention of God. Grace of gratitude should not be mere words. In fact, it should is an attitude that we have about ourselves, others and about creation. It is an act of withholding with sanctity the works of God. Wallowing in self-pity or self-condemnation is a denial of the very creation of God. Attitude of appreciation and love of oneself and others as God intended is a way to live the potential goodness within us.
3. Power of Positive thinking
Rain falls on a good person and bad person alike. Good fortune and misfortune happen to all persons. As it happens and as it comes, we have the power to confront the misfortune with our positive perception. There is a short story of two men in prison looking through the window. One prisoner looks at the sky full of stars and the moon radiating brilliantly. The other prisoner’s eyes fall on the ground full of mud. What you see or perceive generates what you feel. We can look at a half glass of wine and say, “Wow, I have half a glass of wine. I am going to enjoy it” or I can say, “Gosh, I have only half a glass of wine. What to do, hay..ya....” It all depends on us. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. It is that which is in you that you see. Events present as they are and it is we who interpret them as they befit us. The impacts they create are measured by how we perceive it. Enthusiasm and inspiration spring from positive living life and seeing the goodness in every single event should drive and energize us to live even more passionately in the world.
4. Capacity to Transform
Touch the face of God! There is no need to be like King Midas who wished that everything he touched would turn into gold literally. It is a myth about the tragedy of avarice and narrates what happens when true happiness is not recognized. Our Golden touch is not like King Midas’ touch. It does not spring from our ego or self-centred needs. It is a power which comes from God himself. When we align ourselves with the power of God, we become His co-creators. It is not so much of doing something, but it is about allowing the will of God to be accomplished in us. When I align myself with God, everything will be transformed through us. When we touch God, we become His children. As the Gospel of John would put it plainly, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name....” (cf. Jn 1:12). It is not believing in the mere words but believing the very truth to the point of becoming the transforming agent. It is the power of God which we have harness to change and transform every opportunity into golden opportunity. Set your mind as you open yourself to the forthcoming or unfolding opportunities in life, whether it is education, business or life changing experience. As they unfold, pray and meditate to connect with God so that we will be able to harvest the power to transform our lives.
5. Power of Intention
I came across this caption said by the famous martial art expert, Bruce Lee, “As you think so shall you become.” Think about what you are thinking today. What do those thoughts say about you? About your life? Creating a life that we want to live requires us to put some focus in creating it. When we meditate and enter fully into spiritual depth of inner human life within us and align ourselves with the will of God, we eventually would be able to create the life we wish to have. However, this is not an easy process. Basically, there are 2 ways of getting there. First, it is a process of purification or cleansing. It is a process of purifying the mind of all negativities and then, putting on the mind of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 2:13-16). It is a process of dying and rising to new life in Christ. Getting rid of negativity is getting rid of all our negative understanding and negative concepts and paradigms which we have imprinted in our minds. On the other hand, we need to capture the right understanding of God, of ourselves and others. The longer we dwell within ourselves in our right understanding, right intention and keep meditating, and the more they seep deeply into our consciousness, the more fortified our intentions will be. Constantly connect with God as you become His image.
Fr Robert Daniel Francis