"Dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. (Philippians 3:13-14 )"
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As we stand on the cusp of a new year, many of us are busy deciding on resolutions that will help us change and grow. We want to enter 2015 as better people. We want to be healthier people, in body, mind and spirit. We want to accomplish goals that will help us achieve more success or reconnect us to people with whom we've lost contact.
While such goals are noble, it is said that only about 8% of us will manage to achieve our resolutions. Why? We don't set reasonable steps to achieve our goals, we don't have enough support in place, or we carry emotional and spiritual baggage that gets in the way. For example, we are told to "forgive and forget." It's not as easy as it sounds. Most of our habits of life are rooted in emotional or spiritual experiences, either for good or bad. Through the prophet Isaiah, God tells us " Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. (Isaiah 43:18)." How easy is it to forget? We are not talking about the day to day details of life that many of us forget along the way. We are talking about "forgetting" former habits and ingrained lifestyles that created pain for ourselves and others. We are talking about traumatic, painful and unjust events that have touched our lives. How can we just forget them?
In fact, there are many times God commands us to remember: Throughout the book of Deuteronomy God wants the people of Israel to remember that they were once slaves, brought out from the land of Egypt. Scriptures reminds us that God remembers the relationship God made with Israel (Lev. 26:45; Psalm 105:8 ; 106:45 ; 111:5 ). . Jesus, in offering the bread and cup of the last supper, commanded his followers to "do this in remembrance of me (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24 ). Even the thief on the cross asked Jesus to remember him -- and Jesus assured him that they would be together in Paradise that very day (Luke 23:42). So remembering is a spiritual and faithful habit. To bring a balance to our world we must remember where there is sin and injustice and work for righteousness, justice and peace. Yet to be whole people there are some things we must forget.
The words used to translate "forget" carry the nuance of "no longer caring for, neglecting, refusing to focus on or to set aside." Thus f orgetting is not the obliteration of a memory or an event. Faithful forgetting is the choice to not place our energies on memories that bring us down or hold us back. Faithful forgetting also chooses not to focus on those successes that would tempt us to place ourselves above or apart from others. This spiritual act of forgetting frees us and others to move forward to be the people God envisions us to be.
So if we truly want to be successful in our New Year's resolutions we need to focus on what is important to remember: the practice of love that Jesus teaches us. We must learn to "forget" -- not focus on those things, both good and difficult, that would separate us from others and from God's presence in our life.
As part of our New Year's meditation, let us reflect on what we need to remember in 2015. Let us also make a list of what we need to "forget" and not focus on. May we all have a Happy New Year -- filled with love, peace, justice and joy created by both remembering the holy and true, and forgetting that which no longer serves us in our journey of spiritual growth.
1. What will I remember in 2015 to create a successful year?
2. What should I “forget" -- put aside -- not focus on -- to create a successful year?
Prayer: "Lord, remember me. Teach me right memory and teach me sacred forgetting."