“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
Having just experienced another birthday, I found myself reliving a series of memories. They were mostly disconnected and some of them went far back into my childhood. Most were pleasant and others, not so much. I don’t know what prompted my mind to walk these mental pathways with such intensity of feeling, but I recall thinking that I was watching a video of my life and that I needed to turn it off and go on living.
I don’t know much about boats, but I do know that the anchor serves an important purpose. It holds the boat in place, keeping it from drifting. Even a concerted effort to force a boat forward without lifting the anchor will only result in dragging the anchor, hindering the boat’s forward movement and preventing it from attaining optimum forward speed. Anchors are heavy for a reason.
We are not boats and yet our pasts can sometime function as anchors, making it difficult to move forward. Failing to come to grips with unpleasant parts of our past, we are often stuck, like a boat with the anchor down, allowing the weight of those memories to keep us from living in the present. Even good memories, if we idolize them, can do the same thing. We can hold onto these memories longer than is healthy when we prefer them to our present. Our growth is chronological, but our emotional lives (and sometimes our behaviors) are holding on to the pleasantness of years-old and decades-old experiences. Either way, we are not fully in the present, and we can’t move forward from points in past.
We can’t deny or change our past (the parts we like as well as the parts we don’t like), but we shouldn’t be captives to them either, voluntarily or involuntarily. Captives of the past cannot move on to maturity. Using the past as a tutor seems to me to be a better use. What can we learn from the past? How can I use the past rather than past using me? My past is a part of me, but I don’t want it to define my present nor my future.
Let’s leverage the past for our benefit. That may mean purposely taking quiet reflection time periodically (maybe with some prayer added in). For some, it also may mean getting some help from someone skilled in this. This is not a bad thing.
Maybe the mark or calling to which you are pressing is different than mine, but we can only press on to maturity if we lift the anchor and store it in its proper place so that it does not function as a drag on our progress. Take care of yourself. There’s not another one of you out there.
© Byron L. Hannon, 2021. All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.