The baggage piles up, the clutter is shoved off to one side. Every time you get a glimpse of what you have stored up you either find a way to ignore it as if to say, “if I don’t look at it, it’s not really there,” or you beat yourself up over the mess and plan to address it but never do. In the end nothing changes, it is what it is – it’s all in the past, until next time.
The past will always be the past.
Some people are constantly affected by a past they cannot change. They search for someone to blame, while going over and over the past thinking, ‘if only I, or they had done something different.’
Other people try to ignore the past, “it is what it is” – “it’s all in the past”. For these people words create a façade of acceptance while deep inside there is nothing but unaddressed hurt. Their words are a coping mechanism not a sign of true acceptance of what they cannot change.
Some truly move forward. This is not a life of pretending nothing happened but instead true acceptance of what cannot be changed in combination with time taken to reflect, learn and grow from what has happened. This doesn’t mean there is no pain or regret, it simply means life is no longer lived in the realm of denial, blame and “if onlys.”
The future will always contain the past.
The difference between a hoarder and someone who keeps only what they need is the process they use to address what they accumulate. The hoarder looks at everything they have as important enough to hang onto. It is not assessed and addressed, it is piled and filed. They hold on because someone gave it to them or they might need it. This is not much different than the way we get stuck when trying to move forward from our past. We get caught up in the ‘who caused the problem’ like the hoarder gets stuck on the ‘who gave it to them.’ We get caught up in the ‘how could this have been different’ like the hoarder gets stuck on the ‘what if things become different.’ When we can’t deal with it we ignore it suggesting that it all been left in the past and everything is okay. When the hoarder can’t deal with it they fill a new space as if everything is okay. It is what it is, it’s all in the past or another room.
Maybe we need to know who to blame and come up with a few “if onlys” to move forward.
We need to be people who keep only what we need. We can only do that if we sort through the past instead of hanging on to it all. It will only truly be in the past if we extract what we need from it and apply it to our future. I can only move forward if I forgive the hurts of the past. Maybe I do need to know who to blame (could be me) if I am going to forgive! I can only move forward if I learn from my past. Maybe I do need to figure out the, ‘if only I or they had done something different,’ so I can do something different next time.
We can’t leave it unaddressed and we can’t address it over and over again. King David did not ignore the past nor did he seek to live in it after committing adultery with Bathsheba. He knew who to blame as well as what he needed to do differently and wrote this:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar. Psalm 51 (NIV)