Reflecting on Your Life

coffee_cup_white.jpgIf 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?   

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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11 thoughts on “Reflecting on Your Life

  1. I enjoy reading your blog, but PLEASE, please, please set your settings so that the full post shows up in your feeds! Right now all you get is the first paragraph or so, and the frustrating link to continue reading.

  2. Jim,
    Thank for this wonderful post today.
    I have been blessed on knowing you more and reflecting on my life. 
    I pray God continue to bless your life as you have blessed each of us. 
    I hope you have a great day! 🙂

  3. Michael,Thanks for letting me know about this.  I will check into it and see what adjustments that I need to make.  I appreciate you notifying me. 

  4. Jim,
    this is rich, thank you.  Having a reflective heart and spirit is so key to allowing God to shape us.  I think developing the practice of regular examen can develop our inner life in ways we can’t even imagine.

  5. Thanks, Jim. Yes, this reminds me of the quote or thought that the unexamined life is not worth living. We need to look at ourselves squarely in the eye as to who we really are. But we can do so only in Jesus by God’s help.  Good thoughts and questions here. Think you’d be interested in my posting today in our meeting L.L.  Barkat.

  6. "Without reflection, we mindlessly repeat behaviors again and again." 
    I noticed a repeating pattern in my life last fall. A couple of dramatic life-altering events made me realize that I was not a victim in this cycle, but had not ever done the deep reflection necessary to own my own broken part in the cycle and cry out to God to help me live a new way (a longhand way of saying I needed to repent).
    Change is hard – but that deep, extended reflection meant I could not return to the cycle. I’d begun the process of change, and was no longer the same person that needed to participate in the practice of insanity (repeating the same cycle, hoping for a new result). Praise God!

  7. Michelle,Thanks for expressing this experience of yours from last fall.  Your story is a reminder that we might look for patterns in our lives that we continually repeat and yet are not positive or effective.  Thanks again for allowing the rest of us a moment to reflect on negative cycles in our own lives.