As I wrote about in my reflection for the April 2014 issue of One Spirit, Many Voices newsletter, “Acknowledgment can be used in two ways. One is the “acceptance of the truth or existence of something.” The other is the “action of expressing or displaying gratitude or appreciation for something.” Both are important in the healing process.” Sometimes what we need to acknowledge is what is unfinished in our lives.
When I think of stories of unfinished business, I am reminded of the story in John 5. This man had been sitting at the source of his healing for 38 years waiting for others to help him or to be able to get himself in the pool next. In John 5:7 he says “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” this man has not looked the situation in the eye, he has not acknowledged what he has not done and so passively says it is somebody else’s fault that I am in this position.
When Jesus challenges him to own his own healing, and to get up and walk. He does. He had to acknowledge his role in his own suffering and then draw on his own power, courage, and faith to transform the situation. He had to acknowledge he had some unfinished business.
Acknowledging that we have unfinished business is an important step in our healing process. There is more to the process then just saying we have unfinished business. We have to reflect on our experiences, identify what is unfinished, and identify what is keeping us from bringing closure to this “business” in our lives. It is important to note that unfinished business is not necessarily negative and that we all have unfinished business. Sometimes this unfinished business is a friend we lost touch with, a mentor we never thanked, a call we meant to make, or some other project we put on hold. Sometimes life happens and this unfinished business is moved to our things to do later list.
Sometimes things are unfinished out of fear. Until we acknowledge our fear and the source of it, we cannot move forward in our healing process. So what fears do we have to face? Are we afraid of rejection? Encountering painful memories? Not being remembered? Taking a risk? There are so many reasons we leave things unfinished. However, until we acknowledge the fear, we cannot begin to finish our “business.”
We have to reach in and find the courage to reach out to ourselves, to others, to the world. For example, I recently had a conversation with a client who was afraid to talk to someone about some unfinished business from about 8 years ago. His fear was that he would not be remembered or that he would not get what he needed from the conversation. He reached out and spoke to the party involved. While they were not able to resolve the original conflict, he felt that he had done what he needed to do in his life to make amends. He could reflect on the courage he had connected with inside of him and the personal growth he had experienced, as he was now able to move forward in his journey.
The man in John 5 had to take stock of his unfinished business, own his fear that he could not do this on his own, reach out to Jesus, make amends with himself for wasting 38 years, and then he could move forward. Whether our unfinished business has been with us for 38 years or 38 days, we first need to acknowledge that it needs to be finished, so that we can move forward in our healing process and continue to make decisions that are for our highest good in life.