Let’s face the truth. All of us have made mistakes, fallen short of goals, and had a few really painful disappointments in life.
There has been a great deal written about a recent trend by many academics to build resumes of their failures to demonstrate to students (and the world) that we all have failed numerous times in the pursuit of goals in order to better prepare students for the real world.
Given that we have all fallen short, the opportunity for redemption, or helping us to become more acceptable, especially in the eyes of those closest to us, is extremely relevant as we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character and reach our full potential. The opportunity for redemption is very appealing to meet a most important human need beyond the basics, the need to know we matter and are accepted by those around us.
Like most efforts in reaching our full potential, the steps towards redemption are no different, we have some internal work to do on ourselves and we have some external effort we can offer those around us.
The inward journey towards redemption begins with a good inventory of those times we have fallen short. The easy part is the concrete shortfalls in a career journey, academics, financial failures, etc. The really hard part, but most meaningful inventory, are the times we have fallen short in the relationships closest to us; A lost temper, a hurtful word, or a rejection when we were needed most. That is the list that hurts the most.
This type of inventory helps in two important ways (1) The list keeps us grounded and humble. The Scriptures warn us that “pride comes before the fall” so we all should want to avoid that painful reality as much as possible. (2) The list helps us to be less judgmental of those around us. We have a tendency to not be as critical when we have some self-awareness of our own shortcomings.
The external journey towards redemption begins with a word of encouragement to others. Offering an encouraging word to others is many times the gateway for developing a deeper relationship with someone close to us. We live in a world that emphasizes the negative and an encouraging word can be like oxygen to someone suffocating in an environment of negativity and pessimism. We all carry a few heavy burdens known only to ourselves and an encouraging word is a helpful boost as we journey along.
Encouragement, especially to those closest to us, can help in a few important ways (1) Helps others feel better about themselves and begin to feel they matter (2) Creates an environment where others may become more open to share struggles without the fear of judgment and shame (3) Enables others to move forward in their own journey even if it is silently alone.
These internal and external steps are necessary on the continual journey towards redemption. The journey towards redemption is ongoing in the real world as life is not stagnant. We encounter new people, new experiences, new challenges, and ultimately a few more of our own failures along the way. Similar to the phrase “life is a journey not a destination” so can be said of the process towards redemption with those closest to us in our homes and families.
As we continue to move forward with these steps towards redemption, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity to build strong and healthy relationships with those that matter most.