Merry Christmas everyone! I know Christmas was three days ago but it seems like the party’s just ending now. I think because it fell on a weekend, this year’s Christmas felt more like a week-long event as opposed to just one day.
And in case you’re wondering how I spent that week, below are a few of the many highlights from an action-packed week:
- I took Michael to his first ever Redskins game on Monday night. After four hours in 26 degree weather, we were each wondering how many toes we had left because we simply couldn’t feel any of them.
- I spent five hours in a shopping mall with my wife and kids as we divided up and did our Christmas shopping all at the same time. It’s probably been since the late 1980's since I last purchased an item from a mall. No joke.
- I turned into the “hostess with the mostess” as Marianne and I invited close friends or family members over to our home 4 times in a 5 day period. For a family of introverts like us, that’s record-breaking!
It was one of the most enjoyable weeks I can ever remember having with my family and it really made me thank God for special times of the year where we can just “stop and smell the roses.” THANK YOU GOD!
But you’ll be surprised when I tell you what the best part of my week was.
It wasn’t the excitement of the Redskins game or the time with friends or even the restfulness of a week at home with family. As great as all those were, my absolute favorite time of this past week was something that will undoubtedly surprise you. I might be the only person on the planet who would choose the following event as the highlight of my Christmas week.
The highlight of my week was when I went to CONFESSION.
I know, I know, only a priest would say something like that. It may sound corny but it’s 100% true. The day we spent at the mall first began with a trip to confession for the entire Messeh clan. One by one, we each participated in the Sacrament of Confession (a practice I HIGHLY recommend to all families) and then we celebrated the rest of day.
Why was that my favorite part of the week? Most people hate going to confession so why do I love it so much?
First let me say that I avoid confession just as much as the next guy. Just because I’m a priest doesn’t mean that I enjoy telling another priest my sins. In fact, it’s the opposite. That priest that I’m confessing to is also one of my co-workers – someone that I am peers with and work alongside on a semi-regular basis. Imagine if you had to confess your sins to the guy in the cubicle next door. That’s kinda what it’s like for me!
But as uncomfortable as confession is (and always will be), there’s a hidden benefit to it that you maybe overlooking. Of course, there is a sacramental significance to it (not my topic for today), but there’s even more than just that.
In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that whatever you have planned for 2017 – regardless of what you want to accomplish and what goals you want to achieve – the best thing you can do to set yourself up for success is to go through a process of REVIEWING and PROCESSING your past.
Too often we start the new year with “what do I want to accomplish this year?” That’s a great question and one that we need to answer. But I believe you’re more likely to find success if you’ve first reviewed and processed what happened in the year gone by.
For example, let’s take the classic “I want to get in shape in 2017” goal that 99% of Americans all share every new year. It’s great to start the year by getting the sweets out of the house, or signing up for a gym membership, or even just purchasing a new pair of running shoes. That’s certainly a good start.
But I’ll bet that you’ve probably made a similar goal before. You signed up for a gym membership and didn’t use it, or you came up with an eating plan and didn’t stick with it. I’ll bet you set a goal and didn’t follow through with it before.
That’s ok. That happens to all of us. But if we want this year to be different, we’d be wise to start by reviewing the year gone by and processing what went RIGHT and WRONG.
- What did you accomplish this past year that you are most proud of? What disappointments or regrets did you experience as well?
- What was missing from last year? Think spiritual, relational, physical, vocational, etc.
- What were the major life-lessons from this past year? What do you think God was trying to teach you?
Processing your past allows you to prepare for your future.
That’s the hidden benefit to confession that so many don’t see. So before we move ahead to the new year, we need to reflect on what happened in 2016, discern what it meant and find what lessons can be gleaned from it. Only then can we properly begin the process of moving ahead in 2017.
Processing your past might just be exactly what you need to make 2017 great.