Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The past: The choice is yours

You know you can't change the past. I know it, too. Yet sometimes don't we hang onto it with thoughts of, "If only this, or if only that"? Yesterday I wrote about forgiveness, quoting a powerful passage from the novel I just finished, The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman. The novel also had some wise words about the importance of living the life you have rather than hanging onto the past or worrying about the future.

After the main female character confesses to her husband that she wanted revenge for something he'd done to hurt her, and he acknowledges that he knew that, she says, "What, so you forgive me, just like that? Like it's nothing?" He responds that it's the only thing to do for she's his wife, to which she says, "You mean you're stuck with me...."

But his response to that reframes it all: "I mean I promised to spend my life with you. I still want to spend my life with you. Izz, I've learned the hard way that to have any kind of a future you've got to give up hope of ever changing your past."

Later he adds, "We've put things right as well as we can. That's all we can do. We have to live with things the way they are now."

It all seems so obvious. And you're maybe thinking "Duh." Still, it can happen to any of us. We go to that place just as did the main female character. We can get stuck there, dwelling in the past, going over and over it even when we know it leads absolutely nowhere. But just as we do when it comes to forgiveness, so we do with how we view our past: We have a choice in what we do with it. Let go. Move on. Give up the hope of changing your past. It can't be done. Live the moment you have right now. It's all we have—and, really, that's a real gift, isn't it? Is that why it's called the present?

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