Be the best version of yourself today
Published 2:37 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2023
There’s something attractive about self-reinvention. It’s alluring to think that everything we don’t like about ourselves can be jettisoned, left behind in the wake of our transformation. We can move on from a past that shackles us in order to embrace a future of pure possibility. We change careers 25 years into our first. We sell everything that we have, buy a houseboat, and live on the water for a year. Most change happens naturally. Age and experience work on us throughout the years and leave us indelibly marked. It can be easy to look back and feel victimized by their effects, especially when what results is nothing we asked for nor imagined.
Perhaps that explains why we are so attracted to the idea of re-inventing ourselves, because it gives us power. When we take stock of our lives and discover a lack, we now have a purpose and reason to make a change. That purpose becomes the source of our power as we decide once for all to live as fully and freely as we can. You’ve seen these kinds of people: the 25-year veteran of insurance sales suddenly becomes the owner and operator of a tiny ice cream stand at the beach, or the math teacher turned professional wrestler. Maybe you’ve never met those exact people, but you get the picture.
Every single one of us could name a moment in our lives that, had we made one single different choice, everything would have turned out differently. Some of us look back on our lives with regret and wish that we could change everything, while others of us fixate on one thing we’ve done wrong as if that one thing determines the quality and value of our whole life. I wish that it was possible to go back in time, to make right the wrongs done. I’ve cried angry, bitter tears as I’ve wished for this. But no matter how much of ourselves we spend in its pursuit, what’s done is done.
But that does not mean we are fundamentally powerless. We can seize each new moment as an opportunity to make a better future. Whether you’re finding yourself now in the early stages of your life, or you’re pondering one of those self-reinventions at middle age, you always possess the power to make tomorrow more beautiful than today. You can always choose the best path for yourself and those around you. You always have the power to prevent the past from dictating your future.
So many stories in my sacred scripture are about grand reversals of the past’s destruction, and of life triumphing over death. Our central one is the most obvious: Jesus bursting forth from the tomb after his crucifixion. It doesn’t matter whether you believe this story happened. You don’t have to agree on its history to acknowledge its power. This man, broken and murdered by the Roman Empire, comes back to life overturning the deep laws of death. This man, crucified and thus accursed under the law, comes back to life and inaugurates a Kingdom where no one is excluded or seen as wretched! This story is what inaugurated a Kingdom of people who needed second chances and a new lease on life.
Which version of you do you want to be today? Stuck in a tomb of the past, or regret, or fear? Or walking in the new life of freedom, self-affirmation, and power? You might not be able to answer that right now. But promise me that whichever one you present to the world is the very best one you can imagine. I’ll do the same.
Chris Adams is the Rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.