Tabula Rasa is a Latin term for ‘blank slate‘ or ‘clean slate‘ and it is typically used to refer to the human mind and condition at birth.
The start of a new year usually ushers in a wave of hope, anticipation, excitement and eagerness for the year ahead. Especially given the type of year we had last year, it seems things ended for a lot of people in unexpected and strange ways. Either because traditions were different or because certain yearly expectations and goals were not met. Either way we are firmly in a new year and new month now and this signals the start of something new. It means wiping the slate of our minds clean and starting afresh.
One of the difficult lessons I learnt last year was the hindrance I placed on myself by getting ahead of myself. There were times where I thought I had things all figured out and would get ahead of myself. God taught me to slow down and not get ahead of His plans and purpose. The idea of a ‘clean slate‘ can contradict a world that tells us to keep pushing forward and to always be on the go. 1 Corinthians 1:27 says
Even if the world, yourself and human logic would condemn us we must learn to humble ourselves as children and overcome this sense of pride that fears coming across as a fool or a nomad pertaining to the direction of our lives. The funny thing is when we surrender to Christ, we no longer live under the same obligations that everyone else in the world does. Still, with our purest intentions we can sabotage the things God has planned for us because it doesn’t fit our ideal of success or what we want out lives to look like. John Locke’s theory of ‘Tabula Rasa’ states that the mind is blank when a baby is born but through learning and experiences from the environment, the child assimilates to the present culture. New born babies don’t necessarily have a say in what they eat, wear or drink. They are at the mercy of their parents and their mother. Whatever mother deems fit is what the baby eats, wears and drinks. No loving mother would give their baby anything that is harmful or that would not stunt the growth of the baby. The ultimate goal of that mother is to nurture the baby to grow in good health and to grow strong. Same with us as “babies” of God. He watches over us and leads and guides us to be transformed and perfected into the image of His son; Jesus Christ. That is our end goal and our growth model.
That is the beauty of the message of Jesus Christ and something that as Christ followers we can tap into.
Tabula rasa in modern psychology has become the idea that we are born with a blank slate and all our behaviors are influenced by our environment. If you’re reading this then I can safely assume that you do not have a blank mind or that you were not born yesterday. So, why refer to the term in the first post for 2021? That is because to me this means we have a new start, a fresh beginning. The bible verse in 2 Corinthians 5:16 reminds me of a change in perspective and mindset.
This isn’t just a one and done phenomenon. Rather, it requires a daily renewing of our minds. Unlearning and relearning certain things and letting go of our human limitations of a God that cannot be quantified or understood by our human minds. We cannot save our interaction and fervency for God only for a new year. God constantly and consistently has a word for us for every season of life. He always wants to draw closer to us and He wants us most especially to draw closer to Him. That is to say there isn’t anything bad in having new year resolutions but we have to be careful that we do not limit God to being a new year alone resolution God. He desires more from us. More of our time, our devotion, our dedication and our love. That is the beauty of accepting Christ in a childlike manner. We do claim to know more than we do, rather we trust God the all knowing Father. A child asks their parents’ questions to better understand life, situations and to see things from the perspective of someone who is knowledgeable. The questions children ask are inquisitive, to gain more understanding and depth on a topic and never because they doubt their parent or because they believe that their parent would lead them astray. As children of God we are called to live our lives by constantly recommitting to God and allowing the Holy Spirit cleanse us and help us re-evaluate our attitudes, our hearts and the direction of our lives. January is always know for making resolutions and having fresh starts and things haven’t changed in 2021. But what should change is allowing the past frustrations, failures and shortcomings to somehow limit and affect our trajectory in the new year.
To Vision Board or Not?
One of the ‘new things’ I have engaged in for 2021 was making a vision board!
For the first time ever this year I actually made a vision board! It’s so funny that I had discussed with one of my friends 3 years ago about making one. (Check out her tutoring business and the amazing things she’s been up to!) Actually, I think she was even the first person that made the idea accessible to me. I had heard of vision boards before and knew about them theoretically, you know like one of those things ‘other’ people seem to do. It never seemed like something I would be interested or even have the energy to do. basically it just seemed like a lot of work that I didn’t think I really needed to do at the time. Fast forward to 2021, and I finally decided after being prompted by an assignment to make one myself. Surprisingly, it really was more of an enjoyable experience than I thought it would be. Honestly, it took a while but not too long. It was an exercise in taking time to just breathe, be still and allow my mind to wander and the possibilities to flow. I allowed my hopes, dreams and thoughts for the year to flow out. I entrusted my year, my plans and dreams into the hands of God.
It’s an assignment in having childlike faith. Placing my requests before God and entrusting my hopes, desires and wishes into the able hands of God.
I am not bound by the board but rather I place my requests before my Father like a daughter leaving her Christmas list for her parents. These are not demands and neither are they points of contention between me and God. Rather, this is a father daughter relationship. I am requesting for my father’s card and I am providing him with the shopping list of items would like to purchase this 2021. But guess what? My father is hands on and won’t just give me access to his card. Nope, rather he’s going to vet my list, review the items listed and determine the urgency and importance of each before granting me unrestricted access to the card. Some things on the list will be modified as time goes on and as I mature and learn how to become more responsible. However, due to the father-daughter relationship I stay in close relationship with my father throughout the year. I am not a leech who preys on the goodness of my father and after being given what I want, forget my father and not fill him on how things are going in my life. No, we carry God along and update Him.
Perhaps, this year is a time to do things different. It is time to go back to having the childlike menatlity and comraderie with God.
2021 is about developing the ability of being still and trusting God through it all. We can choose to start a new and afresh no matter how last year might have looked or even the first few weeks in this new year. There is always grace to continually seek God as children and specifically as His children.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”
~ Mark 10:15