I recently watched a British film called “About Time.” It’s a story about a family whose male members possess the ability to travel back in time. They could go back to any occasion in the past and live through it again. They could, in the exact moment, choose to do things differently from the first time. Towards the end of the film, Tim, the main character, finally learned, instead of going back in time to change things in the past, he would live his daily life like it’s been lived the second time. This change of mindset allowed him to live intentionally in a slower pace, make the right choices, and savor each moment.
It’s a lovely comedy with a profound message. It encourages audience to live more intentionally instead of rushing it. Isn’t it a great idea to live life as if it’s the edited version?
Except, as I gave more thought to it later, it’s quite impossible.
We don’t possess the ability to travel back in time. We can’t pour back to the glass the spilled milk. And we can’t undo the spoken words that hurt the listeners. We try to find joy in living intentionally and savoring the beauty of life, only as long as life is beautiful.
What about those not-so-beautiful-moments? The moment you dragged your sleepy self to change your baby’s diaper one more time? Your toddler dropped the sticky food on the carpet again? Or when you gave yourself in making a nutrition-packed meal for your family, and your husband came back from car-cleaning, telling you he accidentally broke the bottle of your favorite essential-oil-cleaner you proudly made yesterday?
When these things happened to me, I may have managed to squeeze a smile at my baby and restrain from yelling at my two-year-old, but I indeed failed to remain gracious towards my husband. When he told me the bottle of my favorite homemade cleaner was gone, for whatever reason, I became angry and said things I regretted later.
I wish I could go back in time and adjust a few things. However, I realized that even if I could, there is no guarantee that I won’t screw things up the second time. I’m not enough without the help of the Holy Spirit. He is my Helper. When I had a moment with Him, He said to me, “You were not willing to surrender to my ways.” Suddenly, I could see that I was repeating my “old default”—-holding on a grudge, failed to forgive my husband quickly despite his apology. And further, I had let my anger lead me to treat him disrespectfully.
Establishing a “new default” that leads to the promised abundant life is no easy thing. It won’t come without much practice of choosing to surrender to God’s way in each hard moment. And we can’t do it without the Helper.
Isiah 55:1-2 came to mind as I was repenting my sins while stirring veggies in the pan.
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,and you will delight in the richest of fare.”
Why spend our time and energy holding on grudge or fear, living as if we don’t have better options? Why not draw closer to God through surrendering in His ways to be thoroughly alive and satisfied—- choose to forgive and love unconditionally.
I went to my husband, said sorry, and how much I appreciated a nicely cleaned car. He forgave me. Joy came back as we chuckled together. After all, he is much more important than any of the essential oils I love.
We can’t travel back in time. We can’t avoid making mistakes. We can’t always move through life with ease, knowing what to do in each given moment. But we could still learn from the mistakes and do it better the next time—- instead of acting upon our negative feelings, we could choose to surrender to God’s ways, which leads to a more abundant life.