I think all of us at one time or other have reflected back over our lives and had the moments where we said to ourselves, “I wish I would have……” or “I wish I wouldn’t have……” We have all had those times when we wish we could rewind the tape of our lives and play it back differently; using the knowledge we have now to somehow “undo” our mistakes.
The truth of the matter is that the majority of the wisdom we acquire in our lives, and the personal growth that we experience, generally doesn’t come from the times in our lives when we were successful and we made the right choices. Wisdom and personal growth comes from the episodes in our lives where we made mistakes and we learned from them. When we make mistakes and bad choices in the course of our lives, we obviously don’t know or realize at the time that it is a mistake. I mean seriously…..who would purposely do something in their life that they know is a mistake that is sure to bring stress, grief, and turmoil into their life? I’m pretty sure the answer is nobody. A person doesn’t typically realize that their actions are a mistake until their actions are completed. Then, the consequences and the situations that are brought about by their actions cause them to realize that they have made a mistake. Sean Covey, the author of the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens, was quoted as saying, “We are free to choose our paths, but we can’t choose the consequences that come with them.” This is so true. With every action that we take in life there will always be things that come into our life that are a direct result of our actions.
Often times an individual will reflect back on mistakes that they have made in the past and be so discouraged and afraid of repeated failures, that they will place themselves into a self-imposed prison of fear and insecurity. The consequences that a person encounters because of mistakes that they have made sometimes cause a person to be fearful of stepping out and taking a chance again. Sometimes when a person places trust in a person who was not trustworthy and ends up getting burned, it makes the person afraid to ever trust anyone again. One of the worst things we can ever do is get so busy dwelling on our past mistakes and failures, that we fail to look toward the future in confidence. In the Bible the Apostle Paul said, “I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
I would urge anyone who is reading this to not dwell on your past mistakes. If you consider your past mistakes, simply appreciate the lessons that you learned from them and move on. L. Thomas Holdcroft once said, “ The past is a guidepost, not a hitching post.” I think what Holdcroft was trying to say is that we should not let the mistakes of our past deter us from reaching our God-given potential for our future, and that we should not attach ourselves so firmly to our past mistakes that we are unable to move forward. Someone once said, “Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have – so spend it wisely.”
One of my favorite movies is Shawshank Redemption. For those of you who have seen the movie, you know that it is about a man named Andy Dufresne, played by Timothy Robbins, who spends a very long time in a prison for a crime that he did not commit. During the years of his prison stay, he befriends a man the inmates call “Red”, played by Morgan Freeman. In one particular scene in the movie, Andy dreams about a life in Mexico and asks ‘Red’, Morgan Freeman, “Do you know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific? They say it has no memory. That’s where I want to live the rest of my life; a place that’s warm with no memories.” Red looks longingly on and says, “I don’t think I could make it on the outside Andy. I’ve been in here most of my life. I’m an institutional man now.” Andy ends with, “It comes down to a simple choice, get busy living’ or get busy dying’.” Wow! That is a profound statement that applies to us all! So many people in life get a mind-set of being “institutionalized” by their situation or their circumstances, and it causes them to cease to chase after their dream. A life without a sense of hope is indeed a prison.
If we allow ourselves to, and are not careful, we can spend so much time focusing on our past failures and past mistakes that it paralyzes us and we begin to accept living in the “prison” and we get busy dying. I don’t know about you, but I choose to look ahead positively and say in faith that my best days are ahead. I choose to do as Andy said and “Get busy living’.” If you are just dragging through life with regrets of past mistakes and you are not happy, you are not really living. Forget your mistakes, just remember the lessons. You do have a choice in the matter. You do not have to remain an inmate in the prison of past regrets. I think I’ll take Andy’s advice and get busy living. I hope you do too!
Thanks for reading!
Until Next Time,