"No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead" ~Phil. 3:13 (NLT)
I didn't learn how to let go of the past until my mid 30's. Up until that point, I lived my life without purpose. I had no vision, few dreams, great desire but no plans. My passion was wasted on fulfilling primitive pleasures and desires. Instead I expended ungodly amounts of mental and emotional energy on what did or didn't happen in the past, what went wrong in my life, what didn't work out the way I had hoped, the promises, hopes, and pleasures that had been snatched away, and oh yeah...whose fault it was...certainly not mine!
The entire time I spent living looking back robbed me of my ability to look forward. So instead of thriving, I diminished. Instead of overcoming my past mistakes and challenges, I sat down with them and wallowed. Even the skills and talent that others clearly saw in me at one time became less and less evident, because I laid down hope and defined myself by disappointment. I walked around confessing and believing that I had no talent or gift.
But the year I finally let go of the past, a sort of metamorphosis began within me. It was like the end of the cocooning process, and the beginning of the melting away of the old in preparation for the emerging of the new creation. Emerging from the cocoon was still a long way off, but the seed of a gift began to be watered. Purpose began to form. Passion began to bloom toward fruitfulness. Life began to take shape as a forward journey of Hope!
My best gift to my 20 year old is the following truth: Holding on to the past, whether the "good old times," or the disappointments, will rob even a young, talented person of their gift, purpose, passion, potential, hope, and living! Even a young person FILLED with talent will find themselves wandering aimlessly without progress when they are focused on whats behind instead of whats ahead. Even a young person filled with talent will forget, or fail to see, and in turn "lose"* what they already have by rehashing the past instead of imagining and purpose-ing the future.
My advice to every young person: Let go of what didn't work out in the past, and instead focus your attention steadfastly on that which has the potential to work out now. If there is only one lesson or skill to take away from what didn't work out, embrace that, practice it, perfect it if you can, and apply it to every new endeavor! What we do with what we have, and what we have gathered [from the past] determines whether we multiply our gifts and talents, or lose them.
Wisdom is found not by those who have lived a perfect life, but by those who love her and search for her like hidden treasure. If you wont search for wisdom in a book, a proverb, or a testimony even (such as this one), you certainly wont search for it in a broken life experience (such as what we all have had)...
*"To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away." ~Matt. 25:29 (NLT)