By Trevor Goforth
It is nearing the end of another year. 2013 is coming to a close. It happens just like years before and years to come. Within a year we can experience many things from joy, sorrow to ultimate triumph of the human spirit. For now I do not want to look back so much at the last year nor do I want to spent time looking into the future. But rather I want to live in the moment. Sure the last year I have seen a lot of changes in the world and within my own personal life, as I am sure all of us have. If there is one thing I have learned over the last year is that harboring bitterness and anger towards a perceived enemy or threat of enemy is neither healthy nor productive. I do believe in standing up for intolerance and injustices we see in the world around us. Regardless of what they may be, we all need to be a voice not an echo. Many famous people over the years have said when it comes to bitterness that; “Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
Holding on to it is just a lethal as firing a loaded weapon at your enemy and having it backfire in your hand, hurting both you and your enemy for eternity. When former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela was released from serving 27 years in prison in
South Africa for crimes of sedition
towards a racist government, he came out of prison not filled with hate for
his captors but empathy. Upon his
release he said to the people of South Africa both black and white; “Take your guns and your knives and throw
them into the sea.” Mandela was a man who had every reason to hate and be
filled with bitterness because of the hardship he faced in prison and for his
people. Yet he chose the path of reconciliation and forgiveness.
I have spent most of my life angry about something or another. I was always blaming others for my problems. I lived within the shadow of my fears and my own low self esteem. When I was caught breaking my marital vows I blamed pornography not my own lack of self control. When I yelled at my then wife and kids, I blamed others who had verbally abused me as a child. I was always holding someone else guilty for my crimes. I blindly continued in a way where nothing was my fault. Like most things, that way of being had to come to an end. I had to lose everything. I had to eat of the bitter fruit of good and evil, and like Adam and Eve I was left naked and filled with shame, with only myself to blame. Life can then be filled with grace and compassion much like Adam and Eve were clothed and sent on their way to do hard work. I had to work hard on those things that I feared the most. I had to find the courage to embrace my fears and then rise above them, not letting them define me. I believe that God determines our fate. (When we live? or When we die? Only God knows.) I believe that we can choose our own destiny to become the best we can truly be. I was left to my own devices to realize who I was and who I was to become. The bible speaks that we are like clay in the potters hand but I believe we are more than that. That the air we breathe and the fact our bodies are made up of a good percentage of water, proves to me that we can be bendable like water and movable like the air. We can either choose to be a damaging flood or wind storm or we can choose to be a gentle cool wind on a hot summer day or gentle rippling stream in the forest. It’s all up to us. Some may take the time to say that my faith in God or my that my faith has been weakened. But to them I say; that it has not weakened but rather it has been strengthened. Strengthened to stand up for those who have to suffer intolerance of any kind, be it racial, sexual, and political. Life as I have been reminded of late is precious and that death comes to us all. And there are times where we may have regrets but in those times we must keep pressing forward.
I am reminded of the great story of Lord of the Rings when Frodo says to Gandalf; “I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
I use to think about the past a lot and about the future, but I realize that life is a series of moments and minutes to be lived and enjoyed. It is an opportunity to live life at its fullest. Not in reckless want and happenstance, but one filled with contentment that comes from good friends and family, new and aged ones formed over many years. And once we've done that moment to moment to love our fellow human as we would ourselves. Then and only then can we sleep at night know that if this is our final moment we have lived a life to the fullest.
Poet, Writer, and Blogger
Founder of the Conversations Café Blog