If I were to look at a DVD of my life, what would I see? What would I see on video on the screen in front of me?
Now that is personal. I suspect, if your life is normal, you would see a variety of behaviors, thoughts, motives. You might see a moment that makes you smile as you remember an incident. You might see some other moments that cause you to cringe.
We do think about our past or our history. Hopefully we will do some serious reflection on our lives in light of Jesus’ Lordship. Without reflection, we mindlessly repeat behaviors again and again.
First, I need to reflect on my willingness to take responsibility for my life. I want to think about my own responsibility to follow Jesus as a disciple. Do I live as a person who is serious about him?
Yet, it is easy to spend much of life blaming and projecting blame on others for the choices I have made. "If it weren’t for . . ." How can genuine transformation take place if I am preoccupied with focusing on what others have done to me?
At some point in my life, I need to deal with the choices and decisions I have made regardless of how I have been treated, whether good or bad.
Second, I want to reflect on the various hurts or wounds I have received in life. You know about these wounds. They can leave a person:
- Fearful. After all, you have never been able to count on very many people.
- Overly self-protective. After all, when you have put yourself "out there," you have gotten burned.
- Insecure. It keeps you from trying anything new. You fear you might fail. Or, you fear you might succeed and then you can make no more excuses.
Some wounds come from our families of origin. A father abandons his teenage children while he moves in with his girlfriend. A mother is critical and negative toward her children, leaving them feeling as if they can never measure up. Another comes out of a church experience that is negative and legalistic.
I think about the person who was wounded by the abandonment she felt as a child and then as a teenager. As a child, she wondered why no one wanted to be with her. She longed for a life that many people seemed to have. She wanted a life in which people did the right thing and the family was intact. Later on she learned with joy that God really did want to be with her.
Such experiences can become your frame of reference for years to come. I want to ask whether or not I am so focused on my wounds and the hurt behind them that I really don’t see anyone else’s wounds.
Third, I want to reflect on my "private thoughts" (Gordon MacDonald, When Men Think Private Thoughts, p. XVII-XIX). MacDonald has suggested that we might want to look at these four areas in particular: one’s fears, comparisons that are made, any illusions of personal grandeur, and one’s feelings.
Fourth, I need to reflect on my relationships. MacDonald suggests some key inventory questions that might be helpful for one to contemplate:
- Am I generally a drain on people I am around or do others find me energy-producing and encouraging?
- How do I behave when I am frustrated? Do I run over people? Would others describe me as harsh and abrupt?
- How would my children describe my temperament at home?
- Am I a people builder? What am I trying to build into the people around me?
- Am I enjoyable to be with?
- Do I show a keen interest in the people around me?
- In conversation, do I tend to monopolize?
- Am I sarcastic, cutting or rude? Do I use subtle put-downs?