If we knew then . . .
Christmas and New Year are often a time of looking back on the year gone past.
Sometimes our lives run pretty much as expected, but for most of us there are some unexpected twists and turns in our stories, and it’s easy to find yourself saying ‘‘If only I knew then, what I know now’’.
After a dry year, farmers look back on decisions about crops and livestock and think what they might have done differently.
Relationships break down, there is betrayal, hurt and secrets; the truth is revealed over time and we find ourselves saying, ‘‘If only I knew then, what I know now’’.
Illness, disease and accidents can turn our lives upside down. The unexpected death of a loved one brings sorrow and new perspectives on life. ‘‘If only I’d known’’.
If we only had a crystal ball to give us those insights into the unknown.
If we could only have that genius kid from the movies who would look at our illness, our business, our lives and see those hidden patterns and correlations, point us to a cure or help us make the right decisions, and move aside the distractions that stall our actions.
Sometimes life also surprises us in positive ways.
At birthdays, we look back through old photo albums and exclaim, ‘‘look how cute you were. How could we even imagine the person you would become?’’
Birthdays are a natural time to look back and see where we’ve been, because life also has a way of taking us places we’d never imagined.
The modern Christmas carol, Mary, Did You Know? speculates on Mary’s thoughts after Jesus’ birth:
‘‘Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
‘‘Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
‘‘Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
‘‘When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God.’’
The gospel tells us that Mary indeed knew that Jesus was special, but would have had no idea just how special.
The circumstances of his birth, the strange run of visitors; shepherds, angels and foreign noblemen.
Luke tells us that ‘‘Mary treasured up all these things (the events of the Nativity) and pondered them in her heart.’’ (Luke 2:19).
His disciples must have looked back on their behaviour, reactions and at times outright stupidity and said, ‘‘If only we knew’’.
This Christmas here are five things you can do which won’t have you saying, ‘‘If only I’d known’’.
1. Feed your soul. It’s the intangible (spiritual) things like trust, hope, joy, gratitude, faith, patience, generosity and love that make life worth living.
2. Spend time with the people you love. No-one dies thinking that they should have spent more time at work.
3. Learn to love people who are different to you. Anyone can like those who are like themselves. Walk a mile in another person’s shoes. You won’t regret having empathy.
4. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle you may know nothing about.
5. Take the risk to show your authentic, imperfect self to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.
We can never know the future, but we can follow with the one who can take us there.
This is the gospel, and it’s good news.