Two recent quotes from the Jack’s Winning Words blog seemed to fit together this morning –
“The game of life is the game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later…with astounding accuracy.” (Florence Shinn)
“The beginning of compunction is the beginning of a new life.” (George Eliot)
When I read the first quote I thought immediately of the 1961 song by Charlie Drake, “My Boomerang Won’t Comeback.” When looking up who sang the song, in almost every mention of it in the search results, it was labeled as a racist song. I never thought if it that way, but maybe that is one of my boomerangs returning to cause me compunction.
We see this boomerang effect quite often as we watch politicians or other “public figures” squirm and backpedal on TV as they are confronted by their past statements or actions. Some have developed compunction about those events and statements, but many still defend them. I recall the miraculous “conversion” of George Wallace from avid racist during his days as Governor of Alabama to the inclusive, anti-racist candidate for President. He could not duck fast enough to avoid those boomerangs.
I suspect that we all have boomerang moments in our lives when we said something or did something that later returned to us and perhaps some of them, we now have compunction about. We are becoming more and more aware of and perhaps having regrets for things that we might have said or done that contributed to what we now understand is systemic racism or homophobia. Most of it is because we allowed some of the bad “everybody knows” thinking and statements about those topics to seep into our thoughts and control our actions and reactions. We didn’t stop and think about who “everybody” is or to question or challenge the presumptions upon which the statements were based. We just accepted them and went on with life, thereby joining into the problem rather than seeking the truth.
The quote about compunction is the key to dealing with these boomerangs in our life. The fact is that we change over time. That change is usually driven by an increase in our knowledge of things that we may have just accepted without question earlier in our lives – the everybody knows things. We learn the truth behind some oof those assumptions and develop compunction about having been duped into a false conclusion. We regret having said things or done things that now seem unwise at best and hateful or harmful in many cases – we develop compunction.
How about you? Do you look back over your life and see things that you said or did that you are now regretful for having said or done? If you recognize them as such you are off to a good start at correcting them in the future. You can’t take back what you said or did 10-15-20 years ago, but you can recognize that they were wrong and have enough remorse and understanding of what would have been right to avoid a repeat of those mistakes in the future – you can have compunction.
One way to close the loop on the regrets that you might have is to lay them out to God in prayer and ask for His help to change you so that you do not do those things again. This is a form of “getting it off your chest”. You could seek out the person that you might have hurt with your remarks, but that is often impractical. You could stand on a street corner confessing your past misdeeds and statements, but that seems a bit dramatic. Just admitting it to the highest authority (God) out loud or in your thoughts as you pray has a cleansing effect. Then you can say, yes, your boomerangs came back, but you caught them and dealt with them the best way possible. You can accept God’s forgiveness and forgive yourself.
Now get out there and throw boomerangs that you will be proud of when they come back.