Life isn’t easy…and I’ve often found myself going back to a happier memory when things get tough. Psychologists encourage their clients to “go to their happy place”. Over the last few days I’ve spoken with several people who were struggling with their feelings, guilt, regret, pain, disappointment, heartbreak…
This last week I was at some training for my job and we were talking about depression, and some of the things we tell ourselves in our minds. The moment they asked the question I heard my own “mental CD” start playing with all the negative emotions and false perceptions I have about myself. The strange thing…especially I think as women, we have two records we can play. I have one that is probably more realistic but I’m under the belief if I act upon that…it’ll come across as “I’m better than you” or be perceived by others as pride. And then there’s that evil one…you all know what I’m talking about! It’s that voice that second guesses everything everyone else says, that voice that tries to tell you that you can’t do it, you’re not good enough and all you’ve ever done is a fail. Well…one of the women at the training said something she’s told herself is “I just wish I could go back”. Instantly everyone in the room knew what she was talking about.
There are times in life when it seemed so perfect, so good, so easy…and when challenges come, without hesitation we want to turn back and go to that place that was happy, easy and wonderful. I am so guilty of this!! Well…last night, the ladies of my church met for a book study. We’ve been reading “Loving God with All Your Mind” by Elizabeth George…this is another book I’d strongly recommend. Anyway, the chapter last night was on thinking good about others…and the women were blown away at how we’ll second guess each other. How we don’t truly listen to what others say, we’ve already formed an opinion and our mind runs with us…we project what they’re going to say and respond often times to things we have only perceived in our heads.
I got home last night, feeling encouraged and had some apologizing I knew that needed to happen but the person who I needed forgiveness from the most (besides God and myself) was emotionally tattered by the time I arrived home. You know the cause…perceived failings in the past, a negative CD that plays in their head and the way they believe others view them. I was blown away…within a few minutes of talking and listening…I was doubting myself again, questioning everything and going “maybe all of us ladies were wrong…maybe this is all true”. Let me just say…it was a miserable night of sleep. HAHA…how often do we sacrifice our personal wellbeing because we have allowed our minds to run rampant with us!?
I woke up, pulled myself from the bed…feeling a whole lot of dread and disgust this am. And here’s the sick part…remember all those blogs I’ve written about positive thinking…I KNOW this kind of behavior and attitude is wrong, a sin and I’m just wallowing in self pity. Seriously…I was pretty sick with myself this am!! 🙂 As I’m driving to Mountain City, to work, I’m listening to a movie soundtrack, my mind is racing through all the conversations, trying to process all the emotions when I hear the woman from training say “I just wish I could go back”, echoed by one of my own “I’m not good enough”, chorused by my friend who was broken from past decisions. And then I heard God…do you know what verse jumped to my mind…right in the middle of all these thoughts I heard the words of Luke 9:62. “And Jesus said to him, No man having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” OUCH!
My brain stopped instantly and I felt immediate conviction. Then my mind took off…the past is in the past…seriously…leave it there! Why is that so hard for us? Why do we look back and long for the “good days” or look back and regret the “bad days”? In all honesty…we probably learn more from the bad days then the good ones anyway…so maybe we even have that whole concept mixed up of what is truly good and bad. After I heard that verse run through my head, I heard my answer to the woman from training’s feeling of “I just wish I could go back”…without hesitation I responded that day with “I can be better”.
I can be better was the positive statement in response to her negative feeling. Yes, sure…there are good memories in our past but if we choose to grow (take the plow)…we’re in for some rough places.
I grew up in the country and have done some plowing…not much…but what little I know…it’s not easy. You’ve gotta stay focused on the end or your row is REALLY crooked, you’ll run into rocks that make it hard to move forward, your hands can and most likely will blister, your legs may get tired of walking, the sun makes you hot….there’s nothing “easy” about it. (Unless of course you use a tractor…then the illustration would have to change!) 😉 But if you take a plow in your hand…you’re committed to finishing the job. Here’s the beauty of Christ’s illustration….the moment we look back…our forward progress stops, our line gets crooked and it knocks us off track, off balance and we’re left going “WHY IS THIS SO HARD!” HAHA….as we hit rough places and we look back…for good or bad purposes…we’re making it even harder for ourselves. Oh my word…this morning I almost burst into tears on my way to work. God doesn’t want us to look back and lose our focus, yes…looking back to count and see and praise God for ways He has delivered and blessed us is ok…but when it comes to learning experiences (perceived mistakes) or special blessings (good days) we’re not to dwell on what we wish we had, or what we wish we could change…here’s the basic truth…we can change nothing in the past. 😮 Yep…nothing…it’s over and finished. The only thing we can change is our future…so we must take hold of our plows and move forward. This isn’t easy…I mean, I’m still sitting here at work battling negative emotions, but I know it’s improving….my attitude is working on getting back into the thinking on what is good, and true, and pure, and uplifting.
Life isn’t easy…as I opened my Bible this morning, I was in Jeremiah (from my normal devotions) and I’d last ended in chapter 17. Well, chapter 18 is about the potter’s house…and we all know this story. Christ is the picture of the potter, and we are the clay…I’ll blog again later with what I was thinking about as I read that chapter this morning. But word of encouragement…it’s okay to have mistakes in your past, it’s okay to have good memories, it’s okay to walk down memory lane. There is no point in regretting the mistakes, wishing you could go back to the good memories or staying in the past. If we go back and stay there, we aren’t moving forward. The past is the past…gone forever. We can either dwell in it and be miserable or realize it’s changing and now is the time to make our future better. Now is the time to change…so now it’s your chance to make good memories for the future, learn from your past mistakes and move on. Grab a friend…and walk with God…it makes the journey a lot better when you can lean on Him and a friend.