Work on List Three
By Dr. Ron Ross
Everyone keeps three silent lists deep within their heart.
The first is a list of the things we’ve done for which we are ashamed. For some of us it’s a long list: people we’ve disappointed, friends we’ve hurt, selfish things we’ve done, words we shouldn’t have spoken, places we should not have gone, temptations we should have withstood, etc.
In most cases there is not much we can do about this list except maybe apologize. I once made a very big, long-term mistake that hurt several people and injured my reputation. Once I figured out that the whole thing was MY mistake and not theirs, I went to those I could find and apologized. It wasn’t easy and it didn’t fix the mistake, but it did mend some badly damaged relationships and taught me a much-needed lesson in humility.
The second list we all keep is a list of things we didn’t do but should have done. Hard-working, goal focused parents have a whole bunch of entries on this list, especially when their children reach puberty and start challenging everything their parents stand for, say, and do.
The parents want to know why their kids are acting that way so they plunge deep into their own memories and recall moments when they should have stayed home, or should have given or withheld something their kids demanded, or should have done this or that or something else but were too busy earning a living and making a name for themselves.
The damage is done so it is probably too late to do much about this list. Your kids are in high school now or all grown up and you can’t go back to when they were a child. It is way too late to show up at the little league game or dance concert you missed. You can never take back those shouted words of anger or those times your patience ran thin.
This list brings some serious guilt inducing regrets. And for some reason apologies for things not done are difficult to express and perhaps much harder to forgive.
The third list we all keep is a list of the things we’ve done for which we are proud. The previous two lists bring melancholy and mourning but this list brings real joy. It reminds you that you can make a difference, that you are a person of value, and that you have a measure of control over what happens to you day-by-day.
This list is the only list you can do anything about. You can’t fix your mistakes of the past, you can’t go back and do something you should have done, but you can impact the future. So get after it.
Start doing things that blesses others. Dispense hope, give encouragement, ask forgiveness, render aid, create smiles, and in the process you will lengthen the list of things you do for which you can be proud.
If you do, the other two lists will soon lose their significance. Work on list #3 and you will wiggle out of the mud.
©Copyright 2016 Dr. Ronald D. Ross