Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

December 31, 2006




A Time for thoughtful reflection and joyous anticipation


      As one year draws to a close and another begins, this is a good time for reflection and anticipation.

          Thoughtful reflection about the past is healthy. Here are a few questions to consider:

          One, what helpful lessons did we learn from our hardships? Some of our best lessons are learned from our mistakes and our heartaches. Hard times teach us more than pleasant days. When we struggle with life’s harsh realities we often become better and wiser people. We realize what matters – and what is insignificant.  

          I learned this year the value of simple kindness. When things are falling apart, it helps me to simply be kind to others. Kindness blesses both the recipient and the giver. When nobody is buying what I am selling, I find that there is always a market for kindness. Gentle kindness is like glue that helps us put the pieces back together.

          Two, how did we handle our guilt? Guilt can be our friend or it can be a cruel master. Guilt is our friend if it motivates us to change our attitudes and behavior. But if we refuse to make the changes guilt suggests, then guilt becomes a ruthless master. Change helps us free ourselves from guilt’s control. Unreleased guilt makes us miserable. And miserable people make other people miserable.

          There are days when I could kick myself for the mistakes I made as a father and a husband while our children were growing up. Guilt piles up like a weight on my soul. I find release by reminding myself that the past is over. I cannot relive those bygone days. But I can overcome guilt by doing now some of the things I failed to do years ago. I can affirm and encourage my children and grandchildren in the “now” of life. I can take the time to cheer them on to do their best and let God take care of the rest.

          Three, have I made a little progress in the matter of giving relationships priority over things? Most of us work our tails off so we can have things. While we are doing that often our relationships fall apart. At the end of the day what matters is not how much stuff we have but whether our friends feel they matter to us. Even as I write this I am reminding myself that I need to practice what I am preaching and pay more attention to my friends. They, after all, are my true treasures.

          By thoughtfully reflecting on the past we give ourselves a jump start on embracing the future. There is reason to have joyous anticipation as we begin the new year. We have buried some of our loved ones and friends. We are older, perhaps a little more feeble than we ever dreamed we would be.

Some dreams have been dashed. Some plans have failed. There may even be a chair missing from the dining room table.

          All that may be true but there is more to be said. We are still here! We have life and with the help of unseen hands we can live it to the fullest. We can dream some more. We can make new plans. We can find people who can be blessed by our kindness, encouragement, and affirmation. We can make the most of what we have – as long as we have breath!

          We can rise up from defeat, kick misery out the door, and turn on the after burners of joy. As long as we are alive, we can celebrate!

          We can look back and say with a smile, THANKS!

          We can welcome the future with open arms, and a loud YES!

          So come on 2007. By the grace of God we will “git ‘er dun” and have fun doing it!

          HAPPY NEW YEAR? Yes, but more than “happy.” Let’s make it a GLORIOUS NEW YEAR! + + + +