Living in the Past
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.
–Paul in Philippians 3: 13
My current manuscript, A Spent Bullet, deals with two young Americans in 1941 who have regrets from the past.
Harry, a soldier training in Louisiana, has a dark secret from his life in Milwaukee. Elizabeth, a Louisiana schoolteacher, also struggles with a terrible decision she made earlier in her life. As I’ve studied forgiveness and regret, I’ve become aware that often the hardest person to forgive is oneself.
Even when God has forgiven us (see I John 1:9* below) as well as others having extended their own forgiveness, we are prone to still carry the burden. Regret is the name of this heavy rock we often carry. God does not want us to feel guilty over something we’ve brought to Him for forgiveness. If we hang onto it, we can become “paralyzed by regret.”
Instead, we need to “let go and let God.”
He can help us in this process. There’s a second danger in living in the past: we can constantly relive our victories or accomplishments and settle into complacency. Complacency is the enemy of growth. It breeds laziness and nothing good comes out of laziness. Our job is not to hold on to the past, but to move forward in being stretched by life and chasing after new goals.
I once heard writer T.W. Hunt state, ‘I’m 75 years old, and I believe I’ve learned more in the past five years than the first seventy combined.” Those are the words of a man not living in the past. May those be our words and goal also.
When a thing is done, it’s done. Don’t look back. Look forward to your next objective. –George C. Marshall
* “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us.” I John 1:9
A prayer for today: Lord, teach me to live in the present. Show me how to let go of my past. Help me to learning from the past but not live in it. Amen.
Looking up. Looking ahead,