You are more than the sum of your regrets

For many of us these days, the conversations we are having with ourselves are filled with anxieties, saturated in grief and overwhelmed by loss.

Every aspect of our lives has been upended by chaotic circumstances unique to a pandemic.

A sneeze isn’t just a sneeze anymore; a handshake isn’t just a handshake, and a meeting with friends isn’t just a meeting with friends. Everything has changed.

Inasmuch as any tragedy is certain to leave behind a victim or a person who is harmed, it is important that we make one clear distinction: Being the victim and being a victim are two entirely different things. And knowing the distinction between the two can mean the difference between a moment of suffering and a lifetime of suffering.

There was a time in my life when I was “the victim” who expected disaster. I saw myself as trapped, not only by my circumstances, but also in a life in which I no longer could see any value. I had many reasons to feel this way: I was experiencing physical and emotional abuse, loneliness, loss and constant unwanted change.

But what I failed to see at the time was the power my outlook had on my ability to change my life.

By the time my circumstances changed and my chains were broken, I had given up on myself. My new chains were invisible and of my own making. Tragedy had an ugly side-effect on me; it was what I would call a “broken mirror complex.”

Before the devastation, there was a clear and unbroken mirror. When I looked in that mirror, I saw myself as I really was — beautifully made.
But suddenly, calamity struck without warning, and my mirror had cracks in it that were not there before.

The unbroken mirror represents a mind free of the past. But the cracks in the broken mirror represent the memories we have yet to heal from. Our hearts can break in such a way that every time we see ourselves, we remember what happened in the past and become defined by it.

But just because you’ve been a victim of circumstances outside of your control in the past, that doesn’t mean that now your role in life is that of the victim. Nor is victim your adjective. If we accept that mindset, then we give up on our own futures, ones that can be bright, beautiful and blessed.
What is happening to us now need not last any longer than a moment. There are new days ahead of us, brimming with possibilities. It will take time to get there, but it is worth fighting for. The human spirit is greater than any pandemic, natural disaster and emotional or financial poverty. The human spirit is greater than the things that assault our peace of mind.

Be kind to yourself. It’s alright to have limitations. And we have all been going well beyond those limitations for some time now.

But there are still things that make life worth living. We may not be able to replace what we have lost, but if there is tomorrow, we can build something new.

You are more than the sum of your regrets. And since we cannot change the past, let’s work together towards making a better future for everyone. We may have limits, but if there is anything that we have learned from the past two years, it’s that we are survivors.

Let’s not forget that humanity has experienced pandemics before and won. Whatever challenges may come our way, we must keep pressing forward.

Life is not defined by our circumstances, but we define our circumstances by how we live our lives.

If it rains, then sing in that rain. If feet of snow block your path, then build a fort and make snow angels. And if the world hands you a pandemic, then let it be the greatest story of unity and perseverance ever told.

Jonathon McClellan is an award-winning author who often writes devotionals for Cathedral of Hope. In the spring of 2022, he will release Messages of Hope for adults and The Ant’s Palace for children, each the first of series empowering adults to keep hoping and encouraging children to look beneath the surface to find true riches. A large part of the proceeds will be donated to Cathedral of Hope programs for the homeless. Learn more