Today is the Feast of St. Stephen in the Christian year (tomorrow is the Feast for my Orthodox Christian readers), and I think it holds great significance for those of us looking ahead to 2019. Even if you are not Christian, stop and hear me out for a minute.
St. Stephen was one of the first of seven deacons the original apostles ordained to take care of the poor in Jerusalem. His life was one of service to others. He was the first one to be martyred for his work, and we know his face was “like the face of an angel” as he stood before his accusers and the people.
So, you might be asking, what does this have to do with me and 2019?
Well, because the simple truth is YOU are an influencer. This term is thrown around a lot, you see it on You Tube Videos and Instragram account descrpitions – “I am an influencer!” And rightfully so, as far as social media goes. But as a human being, and especially as a parent, we are all influencers!
St. Stephen was an influencer above all as the first archdeacon to help the poor. However, we can all be influencers. We all can work to influence, support, nourish, and help the people we come into contact with. If we listen hard enough, we can discern what work we need to accomplish for the service of humanity.
I have some BIGGER dreams for this year, now that I am feeling healthier finally. I want to influence 50,000 people in supporting vibrant, compassionate, developmental parenting and education. I want to think about refreshing my skills in medicine and healing now that my children are 17,14,and 9, which will definitely require a lot of work on my part since I have been out of the game. I want to be the healthiest I have ever been. We are going to have an epic year with family and friends making connections and having fun and adventures. It is going to be a great year in parenting and homeschooling our children toward also being influencers that help others. And in order to do this all of this, one thing has to happen first.
We have to believe that we are more than our past mistakes, or the past we think was foisted upon us that was debilitating and wrong. We have to FORGIVE. Forgive ourselves, forgive our parents and whatever they did or didn’t do, forgive the people that we think wronged us, and move forward. Forgiving doesn’t mean we condone what that person did or even what we did, but we move forward knowing that now is the time to do better, to let go of bitterness, to overcome layers of shame and anger, and to become what we are called to be and called to be doing. Time by itself doesn’t fix things; as I get older I see people holding on to things that happened in their teens and early 20s and are now in their 50s. This has to be an active process!
There is a confession we make in the Episcopal Church that makes me think of this process:
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.
On this second day of Christmas, I know I have the BEST readers ever! I really want to hear from you and how you forgave! How did you free yourself from “what you have done and what you have left undone?” Tell me how you threw off layers of despair, depression, anxiety, anger, and rage. Tell me how you are an influencer in your family or outside your family!
This is going to be a fantastic year!