Have you ever watched crew races during the Olympics? Maybe you've rowed yourself. The thing that always stands out to me is that the teams are able to go in a straight line. Now, I know from geometry that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. The straightest line, combined with the most power typically wins. Oddly enough on a four person team or even an eight person team only person is looking forward, everyone else is focused on a point behind them. Often for the teams in the back of the pack, it's not because they were slower or lacked power and force, but because they were off course. They may have paddled out of sync, started off at an angle, or simply not focused on the proper point behind them. Sometimes, it's just a slight shift. But it doesn't take much for that to result in a loss.
For us in our journey of life, it's often not much different. Often forward progress on our daily journey comes when our eyes are focused on the past. The past is wrought with moments of pain and joy. It's filled with the ups and downs of hurts and excitement. For some memories of those times come flooding in like rushing water after a heavy rain and for others we've blocked out the memories of the past to the moment that our emotional landscape feels much more like a desert. These emotional floods and deserts can be a determining factor of who we are becoming, but they don't have to be.
Yet, when we pause to reflect on who we've become there are three things that can be helpful in shaping our tomorrow.
- We all have a story. Each of us are in the process of writing our own biographies. Each story deserves to be told. Those moments from your past have shaped you, formed you, molded you. For good or bad, the origins of your life are a part of who you are today. Pain and hurt is often a part of how we are shaped. Don't be afraid of your story and what's been written so far. The story is not over yet and each day you are adding the pages of your biography. So, live the story that you hope others will read.
- Your story matters. And you matter, too. Take a deep breath. No, seriously, pause and take a deep breath. Soak this in. You matter. Your life has meaning. You are worth love. Your past has helped to shape you, but it doesn't have to define you. The hurts of yesterday do not have to control you.
- Unforgiveness is not the end. In a recent Netflix special Demitri Martin begins w joke by saying, "I'll forget, but I won't forgive." While it poses quite a comedic opportunity, for some, that sentence speaks much truth. We've blocked out the memories, but we're haunted by the hurt or even the fear we'll be hurt again. It's a powerful force. It has the ability to freeze us where we stand. Here's the truth. Forgiveness is not for the person who has hurt you or the event that traumatized you. Forgiveness is for you. Forgiveness frees you. Forgiveness allows you to breath deeply again. Forgiveness provides the seeds of joy in your life. Forgiveness can pave the way for the tomorrow you truly hope for. Although forgiveness, is not easy, it does get easier. For each moment you forgive, the less power those hurts will have over your life.