3 Steps In Processing Your Past

I heard it said while watching Disney’s Meet the Robinson’s a few years back.  It’s a great movie with a quirky but lovable family, an antagonist you’ll love by the end of the movie, and this mantra, “Keep moving forward.”

I’m a forward thinking person but I also have a deep love for the past.  It’s not that there aren’t some really great times in the past that we can visit from time to time, but staying there hinders how we handle the here and now.  The past is not all good, and it’s not all bad either.

Often it’s our interpretation of what we experienced that is more real to us than what actually took place.

On the flip side, not all of us have a past that we think is worth remembering.  Mistakes were made.  Fortunes were lost.  The breakup happened.  The knee injury… you get it.

So whether you dream about your favorite summer or wrestle with mistakes you can’t change, here is a 3 step process in processing your past.

Memorialize it – There are some milestones in the past that deserve a memorial of some sort.  Samuel was a prophet in the time of David.  He recounts how God provided for the children of Israel in an unforgettable way.  1 Samuel 7:12 – “Samuel took a single rock and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen.  He named it “Ebenezer” (Rock of Help), saying, “This marks the place where God helped us.”  Do you have a time or place in your memory where God showed up that is worth placing a stone of remembrance, or at least a sidewalk chalk circle?

Tip It Back – It’s wise to take tips from past experience.  Forgetting expensive lessons learned is a tragedy.  Often it’s memories of good and bad times that can give us these tips on how to keep moving forward.  It can be a good thing to revisit the past but the problem with reliving the glory days is that the real time of the present can never compete with the highlight reel of our seldom subjective memories.

Take tips from the past but don’t get carried away.you may enjoy this post as well (1)

Pay It Forward – While it’s true that many people don’t learn by others example, some do.  Imagine what your story can do in the life of someone that needs to hear a real example of how you messed up, got hurt, or suffered, but came out a better version of yourself.  Victorious suffering can be an incredible example for others.

The Apostle Paul tells the church at Philippi how his suffering made others bold!

Never ever waste a crisis.  You paid deeply towards it and it would be awful to miss out on the payoff of costly past experiences.

In the end…

Your past is just what it is – the past.  Process it positively but don’t allow the misuse of memories by worshipping the glory days, or dreading the future thinking that your past will dictate any and every future decision.

I leave you with a little perspective from John Wayne.

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”

Keep moving forward!

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