I was listening to KLOVE while beginning my loooong drive home from central KY-eastern NC (with a short detour in SC) Wednesday morning, and I heard one of their DJs, Amanda, talking about "shredding" things from 2011. The things to be "shredded" could be things like bad situations, wrongful attitudes, poor habits, bad relationships, etc. She was talking about how we should get rid of those negative things from 2011 and "shred" them so that they wouldn't be around to bother us in 2012.
If I hadn't been driving down the interstate at 70(ish) miles an hour, I probably would have called in. It's a good thing I didn't, because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have come across very clearly. KLOVE is a "positive and encouraging" radio station, so I'm pretty sure the lack of clearness in my communication would have sounded pretty discouraging and negative, even though that would not have been my intention. I know what she was doing was a good thing. Some people really need to get rid of bad habits, abusive relationships, negativity, etc. It's just that I have a little different perspective.
I'm not one of those people who goes around saying, "No regrets." Of course I have regrets. I'm human. I mess up all the time and screw up my own life as well as the lives of others. Even when it's not my fault, this world is tainted with sin; situations arise that just don't go the way I want them to go. Sometimes that's for my good; sometimes I just don't see why in the world things can't be different. Sometimes there seems to be no reason for pain. So, yes. I have regrets. I have a lot of them.
But just because I've collected some regrets over 2011 doesn't mean I'm ready to go "shred" them. The main thing the Lord has been teaching me over the past year is that HIS GRACE covers everything. That means that every situation that arises in my life is something that He has allowed to happen. Does that mean He's caused every bad situation? No. As I said before, sometimes bad stuff is the result of my own bad behavior or my own poor choices. Other times, though, bad stuff just happens. We live in a sinful world, and we have to deal with the results of sin. God doesn't necessarily cause bad stuff to happen. But I know that if I'm going through a situation, it's something that has already been filtered through God's grace. He's allowed it, and sometimes for reasons I'll never understand.
And if God has allowed something to happen, then it's something He wants me to walk through. That doesn't mean it's going to be easy, but it leaves me with two amazing opportunities, opportunities that are only provided through His amazing grace. I'm offered the opportunity to show love to others. If someone sins against me, causing me pain, I have the opportunity to love them. If someone does something to inconvenience me, I have the opportunity to show them grace--the same grace that I've been freely given.
I also have the opportunity to trust God. Sometimes the reason I have to hurt is clear; other times, it's not. And I can sit and wallow in self-pity, or I can sit and allow myself to get bitter, or I can put on some kind of facade that makes everyone think I'm somehow strong enough to deal--when I'm really not. Or, I can surrender the situation over to the Lord, trusting Him and His sufficient grace to be my perfect power in my weaknesses.
Everything that has happened in 2011 is something the Lord allowed me to walk through. Everything before 2011 was something the Lord allowed me to walk through. I can't "shred" my past; it's part of me, part of the person that the Lord is creating and recreating. I learn from mistakes, I grow through my struggles. The things that have happened to me, good and bad, are things that helped to shape me. They don't define me, but then again, neither do my successes. They're all just part of what the Lord has given me to help me know Him more.
What does define me? Grace. Just grace. That's why I can look towards 2012 as a year of Hope.