For some of these blogs, I have decided to take one of the questions from the self-care inventory and reflect on it. I hope to jump between categories so that I can create a dialogue about some of the critical questions around self-care that come up on the inventory. I try to look at it once a week, but there is a lot there and sometimes I know I won’t stop to really think about a question. The question, ‘Am I aware of how my past experiences impact my present feelings and behavior?’ is a question that we do not ask of ourselves enough.
I believe it was Winston Churchill who said ‘those who do not know about the past are doomed to repeat it.’ Its a profound statement that I have failed to disprove in my own life journey and my encounters with others. As Christ followers we know that God has wiped our past clean, forgiven all our sin and that we are made new and redeemed. This does not mean however that our past experiences, feelings, and behaviors do not impact us in the present and future. Any good mental health provider will tell you that this is the case. This does not mean that we must be controlled by our past. We can learn from our past and more importantly God can take our past and redeem it; making it new and doing something great in the midst of the good, bad and mundane of our past. The key piece to this question (and much of the self-care inventory) is self-awareness. Self-awareness is extremely critical and the more self-awareness a person has, the more teachable they become, the more that they can hear and see what the Holy Spirit is doing in their lives. For christ-followers, pastors and leaders, self-awareness makes the top five list for qualities in a great leader (along with faithfulness/trust of God, teachability, integrity and authenticity).
The experiences in our lives are a part of the story that God is writing in, around and through us and should be examined as we lead and seek to follow God. We will find that many of our reactions are influenced by our experiences from our past. Its an important question for leaders and for self-care and its a great question to examine with a professional counselor in times of challenge.