Friday, December 30, 2005

Happy Old Year

In certain counseling situations, if a person is struggling with traumatic or painful memories, it can be helpful to take them back to that time and change the ending of the story. Perhaps in the actual situation they were very young, or for some other reason were unable to have any "say" in what happened.

Via imagination, they can go back to the situation and make up new endings--a way of escape, a hero who comes to rescue them, or some course of action they could take to make a difference.

Even though it doesn't change history, this intervention often does change how the memories of events affect people, often profoundly changing their present and their future.

As the year 2005 comes to an end, most of us can look back and see things that didn't turn out the way we wanted them to. Or maybe they turned out okay, but were very painful in the unfolding. Or maybe they're not finished yet.

In any case, how we choose to look at the past year will make a difference in how we approach the coming one.

I love the tradition of the psalmists, who intentionally recounted the ways God had blessed them and often rescued them.

Sometimes their recounting went way back into history, when God had delivered the generations before them. They looked at this as part of their own history with God, even if it was not something that had not happened in their own lifetime.

In our culture, we tend to live much more in the present and future than in the past. We forget the past easily. We don't often have much of a "big picture" to work with because we ignore anything but the most immediate, personal past.

As this year ends, I want to be able to see it as part of a much bigger picture. As part of a story that started way before I was born and will continue after I die. This past year was actually a very small part of that story. If things didn't end the way I wanted them to, well, maybe that's because that isn't really the end, and I can't yet know how it fits into the story.

And knowing what I do about the ending in the bigger story, I am willing to trust that my own little story will somehow be used for good.

That doesn't change history.

But it sure can make a difference in the present and the future.

Happy Old Year!

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