The past is sometimes quite a messy place: A cesspool of unwanted memories and a graveyard of filth and putrid decay that too often refuse to stay buried…but should they really stay buried?
We cannot change the past, and to try to deny any aspect of it robs us of the opportunity to benefit from the lessons that are there to be learned and applied in the choices we make today. To try to deny our past is to squander the potential life-transforming lessons that can go a far way in the shaping of our future – because our present and future are inextricably linked to our past.
An undeniable paradox lies in the fact that while the experiences of the past can present an opportunity for us to grow, they can, if allowed, provide a recipe for the exact opposite: stagnation or even death.
We should embrace the past, even if it does not reflect who we are today. We should, at the same time, be prepared to leave it behind in our pursuit of personal growth and empowerment; in our evolving pursuit of BETTER.
In so doing we may well find that whether because of, or in spite of, our past, our best years are indeed yet to come.
“Part of being a successful person involves pursuing opportunities for others to thrive from your actions and ideas. True success and fulfillment are not attained through accumulating material possessions. Instead it is through: the way you influence and help others to become better individuals; the way you remain humble regardless of your accomplishments; and the way you are prepared to work hard even when you do not ‘have to.’
Indeed, it is mostly the extent to which we are prepared to extend help to others in need which makes our life significant.”
While we all endure pain in its various forms from time to time, whether emotional or physical, our responses tend to vary depending on the cause or source of our pain. If we hurt our foot against a piece of furniture we do not kick at the furniture in anger. If we are injured, say in an accident, we tend to be very protective of the injured area.
However, if we have been hurt by someone we tend to lash out at those who we believe to be the source of our hurt. Unfortunately, when we cannot readily identify or reach to the source of our hurt, we instead tend to lash out at others. This is because our level of tolerance of others becomes impaired due to our emotional state, thereby putting us in a defensive mindset aimed at self preservation. In such a state, the wrong word or action can send someone careening off the cliff of self-control.
So next time you feel like lashing out at someone just pause long enough to consider your emotional state, and ask yourself: am I directing my anger at the correct person? If not then is it fair to ‘lash out’ at him/her?
Conversely, it is worth being aware that if someone lashes out at you for no apparent reason, it might just be that they have been hurt by someone else, and a response of love and patience might be just what they need to put their hurt into the correct perspective, or perhaps even to assist in healing their hurt.
‘Some things are unforgivable.’ For some this view is deep-rooted and will be hard to change. After all, the emotional and/or physical pain which results from an action by someone you trusted, but who has betrayed such trust, are not easily healed. This is, admittedly, a normal, logical and justifiable human perspective to take. The saying ‘who feels it knows it’ is all too true for those who have experienced, endured and sometimes miraculously survived acts of betrayal or any of a number of untold hurt. For such persons, who can blame them for holding such a view?
For such persons, it is understandable that they view extending forgiveness to be a case of ‘giving someone something they do not deserve.’ And that can be totally understandable because, let’s face it: the nature of some actions (or even words) directed against us can make them excruciatingly painful to experience and could be deemed ‘unforgivable’ to even the most forgiving of persons!
However, choosing not to forgive is really a case of us choosing to prolong the hurting, by holding on to the pain we experienced. Over time, we will find that we are actually hurting ourselves more than we are hurting the person who did us wrong, and whom we find it so very hard to forgive.
It may sound contradictory, but choosing to forgive someone who has wronged us is actually a real case of giving OURSELVES what we deserve. Choosing to forgive empowers us to move on and releases us from the deadly poison that would otherwise have been festering inside us. Yes – choosing to forgive is choosing freedom from the anger and the pain, disappointment, or even fear, that we otherwise continue to experience.
This is not to suggest that forgiveness is easy! On the contrary, it is because it is so difficult that we have so many cases of people carrying out acts of violence in the name of revenge, that for others will appear so out of character; some, even years later! This is why some persons have chosen to destroy their own lives just for the ‘satisfaction’ of seeing someone pay for what they did. This is why for some, trusting others becomes nearly impossible.
The irony about forgiveness is that with forgiveness it is the giver, rather than the recipient, who benefits most. So go ahead and DARE to forgive someone today. YOU deserve it and you might just find it to be an act of administering well-deserved healing, while also being beautifully liberating.
Do you ever encounter situations where you find yourself quietly asking for, or wishing you had, more patience? My guess is that your initial thought is “Don’t we all!” And I suspect you would be correct.
If we are at a place where we believe we are supremely patient, I suspect we simply have not encountered the right set of circumstances that really stretch our limits, challenging our bloated sense of the depth of our patience. You see, the strongest and most patient among us will acknowledge that such ‘patience’ and strength only come from exposure to situations, which, when they have passed, result in an expansion in our capacity to better handle similar situations in the future.
We cannot develop patience by being shielded from bad experiences; neither can we develop strength from merely imagining ourselves in hypothetical situations, or even from hearing about other people’s struggles and triumphs. Patience and strength are personal fruits of practical, lived experiences.
To recognize we are not as patient as we need to be, is to acknowledge that we are aware that things could always have been worse. However, to actually ask or pray for such patience, when genuinely done, is to actually INVITE such hardships – TESTS – the likes of which we have never experienced before! Or perhaps we have encountered such tests before, but never really learned the lessons they were teaching us.
Why do you think two individuals, facing the exact set of circumstances, can end up responding in such disparate ways with disparate impacts? Well, temperament might play a role in this but under the right set of circumstances even temperament will not be sufficient. I suspect that a great determinant of this difference in response and impact has to do with past experiences – or lack thereof – to which these individuals would have been exposed.
Notwithstanding the value of experience, Patience is not a destination that one can say they have reached. Instead it is a constantly evolving capacity that will continue to be expanded as we are exposed to situations that test and stretch us. Increased patience is an excellent thing to strive for; however, in the quest for patience do not forget to ask for wisdom to navigate the challenges, and the correct mindset to help us embrace these challenges when they come, “…knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience…” – James 1:3 (NKJV).
While developing patience does not only result from actual victories won, it requires actually facing and enduring the challenges that we encounter, which provide the ‘lived experience’ we need to gain the benefit of increased patience.
Throughout life’s journey you can always find opportunities to rise above your circumstances and grow, sometimes leaning on Family, friends, and so many others for help. To ultimately reach your desired destination this journey requires great sacrifice and motivation as you face each day with boldness and optimism. Reject the opinions and proclamations of those who would seek to hinder you through their own short-sighted negativism.
Setbacks happen – but you can move past them; maybe you fail in your efforts to get back on track but with persistence and commitment, ultimate success is all but assured.
The situation you face today might not reflect the outcome you anticipated. Where you are today might not reflect where you dreamt of being. Today, you might find that various negative situations have seemingly conspired against you. Yes – today might have found you deeply wedged between competing struggles that threaten to ensure that the mountain of negative situations you have faced for your entire life pale in comparison!
But keep on fighting; keep on pushing through and if, by chance, you find that you have come out of the darkness with your hope renewed, your faith intact, and your future looking brighter than a few days/weeks/months ago, would you please consider paying it forward? Keep on supporting those around you; give a word or two of encouragement to someone knowing that at some point in the past you might in fact have found yourself where they are right now.
Yes, you might already have discovered that struggles serve to help you grow; challenges, when overcome, tend to make you stronger. Success born out of dire circumstances can be most meaningful! You might also have learned that challenges, when overcome, serve to prepare you for the next challenge ahead – yes, rest assured that other challenges WILL come, but now you have confidence that you will do alright no matter what!
And as you continue your journey into your future – whatever that future holds for you – remember to pause from time to time and just take a moment to look back at your journey, while holding your head high, regaining your strength as you spread your wings…and fly!
We do ourselves a great disservice when we miss an opportunity to lift someone up. It is by lifting someone up that we separate ourselves from the common and selfish among us, and are elevated to a level where we are fulfilling our God-given responsibilities. We are blessed so that others, through us, may also be blessed and in blessing others, we avail ourselves to even greater blessings.
As we approach 2022 let us make a commitment to being a source of inspiration to someone else to grow; a helping hand lifting someone up; to become better at being our brother’s keeper; and above all else strengthening our faith in God’s ability to keep us through the year ahead.
From justthinkingoutloudblog, please have a wonderful and success filled year ahead.
You could perhaps call it ‘the Cliche of the century’ but it still remains true: everyone is different. No two persons will have the same combination of experiences, traits and genes that will allow one to be a replica of the other. Our values will therefore be different, and our expectations will be different.
To try forcing our views and values on someone else, or setting our expectations of others based on our own is therefore futile, and perhaps even silly.
I suggest that our best option in effecting change, is to BE the change we want to see in others. If we value respect, hard work, honesty, strong relationships, or whatever the case may be, then our best bet is to demonstrate these values by practicing them. We will find that it is the consistency of our actions that has the greatest impact, not the loudness of our ‘preaching.’
People see, experience and interpret things through the lens of their own experiences. I believe it is important for each of us to be self aware – having a good understanding of ourself, and to seek to recognize that we do not need to understand where another person is coming from in order to respect their right to be different, or to act different.
We usually claim the right to having our own opinions about things, and will defend that vigorously. Others have equal right to do so as well.
As we approach the new year, how about striving to be more self-aware, supportive, patient, respectful and tolerant of others while celebrating our differences. Then witness how beautiful the results would be!
We are all in this journey called life together, each of us being unique – just like everybody else.