New Perspectives: A New Year – by Rev. Heather McCarrel

Photo by Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

As we now step into the first week of the New Year it is wise to do so as prepared as possible.  For me this means spending time setting up my day timer.  Yes, I am old school and still use a hard copy day timer complete with lists of things I hope to accomplish in the coming year as well as certain reminders of wisdom I hope will lead me. One such list is titled, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Dr. Don Miguel Ruiz is a trained surgeon from rural Mexico who has become known worldwide for his writings on Toltec spiritualism.  One such writing is a book titled, The Four Agreements.  These four agreements are guidelines to aid in accomplishing a life of freedom from habits that would otherwise rob us from having a contented and peaceful life.

The First Agreement is, ‘Be Impeccable With Your Speech’.  This is a reminder to use your words with integrity that wisely build up yourself and add truth and love to world.   As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” And, as written in Proverbs 21:23, “Whoever keeps their mouth and their tongue keeps themselves out of trouble.”

The Second Agreement is, ‘Don’t Take Anything Personally’.  This wisdom teaches that what others decide to say and do is a reflection of them, not of us.  We are responsible for how we respond to these people, but we are not responsible for their words, decisions or actions.   Jesus said it this way — a couple of times: “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45).  May our actions and words express hearts full of wisdom, kindness and love.

The Third Agreement is, ‘Don’t Make Assumptions’.  For me this has been the most powerful of the Four Agreements.  Having the courage to ask others clarifying questions has helped significantly in avoiding misunderstandings, drama and hurt.  I find myself often pausing meetings or a telephone conversation and saying, “I need some help in better understanding what you are saying.”  Then after a few gentle but direct questions are answered we move on in a clearer pathway.  This Third Agreement has transformed my life!

The Fourth Agreement is, ‘Always Do Your Best’.  Some days my best is at a different level than other days but because I did my best each day, under differing circumstances, I can sleep well every night! By aiming to do our best we avoid regret and shame. Instead, we are gentle with ourselves knowing that tomorrow is a new day.

These Four Agreements: ‘Be Impeccable With Your Word’, ‘Don’t Take Anything Personally’, ‘Don’t Make Assumptions’, and to ‘Always Do Your Best’ are four tools, if used daily will guarantee an amazing 2023!

Happy New Year Everyone