Keeping the Past Where it Belongs


I have often found myself wallowing in self-doubt and guilt-induced hesitation over things which turn out to be beneficial. This is completely contrary to what I believe. Nevertheless, it happens. Stupid memory.

I'm 91% sure that the cause for these feelings is the remembrance of past mistakes and failures. Which makes me so frustrated, because even if I can't forget my shortcomings and mess-ups (the memory function of the brain is not erasable), I shouldn't be letting those memories have such a grip on my emotions and decisions. Make no mistake, I have overcome this habit for the most part and it happens less and less as I get older. But I want to take the opportunity to talk (or, you know, type) it out.

My favorite movie when I was a kid was The Lion King, and remains (in my opinion) one of the greatest animated Disney movies of all time. I never grasped the deeper concepts (mostly because I was 5 and those were the boring parts. #snacktime) until I began to face real challenges with guilt and the low confidence associated with it. Anyway, there's a line that the wise, eccentric (often invasive) mandrill, Rafiki, has. He says to Simba, "Ah yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it." Wow. Basically he gives Simba an ultimatum: either learn from your past and move forward to be who you're meant to be, or keep running from your mistakes and keep being the careless bum you've been. I don't want to be a careless bum who runs away from her mistakes forever.

I know you've done things you're not proud of, to say the least. I know you messed up big time and can't bear the memory of what you've done, even though you remember it every single day. I've felt that utterly crushing, sick feeling of worthlessness before. I get it. And it can eat you up and wither away your soul if you let it. I've been there.

By now, if you've read one or two of my posts (or even my bio in the margin) you know my faith in Christ is not a secret. I've made my decision and I believe it to be the right one. But let the record show I'm not here to force my belief system on anyone. I am not here to reach only a Christian, "Jesus culture" audience. I'm not here to throw scripture at you. I'm here to encourage, to share life, to express thoughts and tell stories so that people feel like someone else out there "gets it." I don't have my act together, and that's ok.

But I will tell you that I overcame (and still overcome) my past through my relationship with Jesus. I just think he opens my mind up to things that he knows will help me. Like that Lion King quote. I needed that. Now, whenever I start to struggle with guilt, anxiety, depression, etc. because of painful memories, I remember that scene from my favorite childhood movie and it encourages me to fight through it, to remind myself of why those mistakes were good in the long run - I learned from them. I'm a better person now than I used to be when I made those mistakes, because I made those mistakes.

I hope the main thing you take away from this unusually long blog post is that you don't have to give in to guilt. You don't need to live in the past. Live in today! That stuff in your past happened and it sucked and now it's over and it's a new day and a new opportunity to be who you know you should be. Focus more attention on the future and on what's ahead. None of us are alone in our regret. But none of us have an excuse to let that regret drive our lives.

Now I think I'll go watch The Lion King like the mature, serious adult that I am. *cough* (Where's my CapriSun.....)

Hakuna Matata,


Published by Christina Rowland

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