I finished a book this past weekend which was a poignant reminder of the problem with allowing the past to rule the present.
If anyone had a right to hold onto the grievances of the past, this World War II family of Jewish refugees did. Mistreatment, abuse, theft, death, misplacement, rejection, and loss of the dreams of tomorrow are only part of the story. The Grand Dame of this family died bitter and vowing revenge-even in her death. It was a painful reminder of the danger of living in the past--good or bad.
The stark truth is the past is just that--in the past--history--gone. BUT the past is a vital part of who we are--in our present. What do we do with the past?
Honor the memory.
By embracing and acknowledging what was, we honor our history. There are good as well as bad things in all of our past. We cannot selectively carve out what we care to remember. It is a collage of what has made us who we are today. Do not deny it, do not live in it, but instead accept it as part of the very fabric of your being.
Learn from it.
Our past is perhaps one of our greatest teachers. If a dog chases me every time I walk a certain street, I should learn to not walk down that street. To continue to return to the same street over and over is only asking for a dog bite. If I enjoy a wonderful meal every time I visit a certain restaurant, trust the next meal will be good also. Learn from the experience of our history and use it to frame our present. If history is going to repeat itself, then we should learn from our past how to avoid the painful recurrence of painful memories by avoiding the circumstances leading to the pain. In the same manner, the successes we have enjoyed should teach us the path to pursue to repeat the circumstances that lead to our triumphs.
All we are promised is this moment~make the most of it. Do not keep one foot in yesterday for your cannot walk into tomorrow dragging yesterday behind you. Try walking in a door with one foot planted firmly outside the door. The door will hit you in the face stopping your forward progress. Step forward--even tentatively--but take a step. Today is not found in yesterday. Yesterday is gone, but today is a blank page waiting to be filled.
Even if your yesterday was so wonderful you cannot fathom life being any better, tomorrow could well be better. The better will never be discovered unless you are willing to look for it. One thing is sure and certain, without hope, without expectation, tomorrow has no hope of being better. If your yesterday is painful and the horror of repeating it can have you pulling the covers over your head or headed for the nearest cave, there is hope for a better tomorrow. How do you live--how do you move forward without hope?
The past can paralyze us. We can become stuck in the world of fear over a repeat performance or idling in the denial of life ever possibly being better than yesterday. We choose how we live today--and today is all we have. Make the most of it and live in hope by putting both feet inside the door of today.
May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.