The Slate of our Soul

Numbers.

Numbers were everywhere in 2020. Whether it was COVID-19 cases, deaths, racially sorted arrest statistics, electoral tallies, or jobs gained and lost, we were surrounded by numbers last year.

Perhaps we always are. And, that may not be a bad thing. Without numbers, tallies, and scores we would never make sense of the world around us. We like to, no we have to, keep track of things. Numbers and the keeping of records is how we do so.

We all keep a secret ledger. This ledger may not be held on a cell phone app or in a leather bound journal, but we keep it all the same.

Imagine a world where there were no records. How would you operate in a life where your doctor kept no baseline of your health statistics, your bank ran no ledger on your account, and your utility company just billed you whatever felt convenient? (I would submit that the latter may actually be a standard operating procedure.)

We need records. Yet, there are some records that it would do us well to clear.

We all keep a secret ledger. This ledger may not be held on a cell phone app or in a leather bound journal, but we keep it all the same.

For today, let’s call it the Slate of our Soul. It is upon this slate that we record the rights and wrongs done to us by others. Have they attacked me? Have they supported me? Was that an insult? Why didn’t they check on me when I was sick? Did they just leave me out? I lent him my chainsaw, why did he not return my call when I needed to borrow a drill? She took my help with her children, but now I never get an offer to babysit; what is up with that?

This Soul Slate is massive, and it is detailed. No story is too large to fit upon it, and no small detail is too minor to be left off. And often, we are quite astute, perhaps with the help of others or by the whisper the enemy of our soul himself, at steering our minds to the exact spot where some trauma, hurt, or slight has been recorded. Once fixated upon this record, our wounds are freshly torn.

Further, the Slate of our Soul also contains copious notation regarding our own faults and flaws. And if the observer of our records thinks we are harsh regarding our neighbor, than they certainly will be shocked by the level of vitriol we reserve for ourselves. In this corner of the board, we tell of not of how others have failed us, but of how we failed ourselves. There is no letdown that crashes quite so hard as the reality that you have failed to meet your own expectations.

It is here in this personal corner that we see words like worthless, failure, too fat, too skinny, too stupid, too much like mom or dad. It is here that we record every time our fitness goals were derailed by a journey down the ice cream aisle or the missing of a gym routine. It is here that we see the details of how we haven’t been the father, mother, spouse, sibling, or child that we ought to have been. It is here where we record that we have failed our ourselves, our families, and our friends. It is here that we record every time we fell far short of the expectations we had about our own walk with God. But, it is also here that we record our highest moments, our successes and triumphs.

Yes, this Slate of the Soul tells a story, a story of good and bad. It tells of friends trusted and affirmed, but also of betrayal and hurt. Hereupon we find the story of our own successes, which cause pride to rise, and the account of failures that leave us dejected and forlorn.

Up and down can go the roller coaster of our heart as we recount each moment the slate contains.

But herein lies the beauty that a new year brings.

Whether to others, or to yourself, January 1 is a great day for clean slates.

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