Retrospection: the act or process or an instance of surveying the past.  Looking back.  Second guessing.

I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.  Ruminating on the “if only” moments.   The changing of seasons seems to turn us on our heels and face us toward the things that have been.  Surveying them some how helps us to say one last goodbye before turning and moving forward into the “what has to be” of tomorrow. 

The past is a treasure box filled with trinkets, rust, and gold.   Some things meaningless; others priceless.  Some things painful; others exhilarating with joy.  History inevitably is mingled with tears, smiles, and a lot of sweat.    

From our treasure box of the past, there are many lessons we can take with us into the future.  Here are my retrospection discoveries:

1.  You can never have too many family dinners.  It doesn’t really matter what you serve, sitting around a table is an incredibly unifying experience.

2. You can never welcome too many people into “family” status.   Family are the people who will stick by you no matter what and not because they have to, but because they can’t imagine doing anything different.   Sadly, “friend” has become a casual word filled with lopsided definitions, but “family” speaks a greater truth–it says “We belong to one another.”

3. Define the battle before you start fighting.  So many battles; so few victories.  So much wasted energy.  There are things in life that are worth fighting for; there really are!  There are also too few warriors; people willing to take up the sword and fight.  Yet, I observe that too many of us get drawn into the wrong battles where we become weary, injured, and often disabled.  And the war we should have been fighting goes on without our contribution.  Think deeply about this as a spouse, parent, friend, employer/ee.   For what are you really fighting?

4. Forgive quickly.  People make mistakes–a lot of them.   Forgiveness is an excellent trainer.  You want good character?  Then choose forgiveness as quickly as you can.  Walk into it.  Take big steps toward those who you feel have wronged you.  You will find humility, selflessness, patience, and mercy shaping your character into a beautiful reflection of the One who modeled the true depths of forgiveness.

5. Laugh.  Why the heck are we so serious?  Learn to laugh freely–at yourself, at the nature of things, inappropriately if you must, just never at others.  Carry a joke book if you’re laughter-impaired.  I married my husband because of his laugh–seriously, I did.  Before I knew his name, I knew his laugh.  Laughter makes us human; makes us lovable; makes us vulnerable to be real.  Laughter marches to the rhythm of the heart. 

6.  “Please,” “thank you,” “I’m sorry,” and “I love you” are endangered terms.  Before we lose these beautiful creatures once and for all, make them a part of your daily repertoire.  If you’re uncomfortable with them then practice in front of a mirror.  So many things in life could be fixed with one of these words.  Speak the power of charity; sincerely, generously, and frequently. 

Today, spend some time in retrospection.  Think about where you’ve been.  The blessings you have received.  The lessons you have learned. …and treasure them.

What discoveries would you add to the list?