Learning from the past and preparing for the future is not only wise, it helps us to grow, mature, and ultimately enjoy a better life. However, a healthy balance must exist because a constant focus on the past or the future can cause a person to miss out on the opportunity in the present moment.
The term “living in the past” is best described when a person consciously or sub-consciously dwells on something that occurred and allows that past event to define who they are based on that event. This “event” could be a either a positive experience or a negative experience. The person who chooses to live in the past will become stuck in the past because the person is unable to move beyond that event. Ultimately, they are unable to experience joy in the present moment and their true potential becomes stifled because they are allowing a past event to guide their future.
God has given us such gifts as forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32) and grief (Matthew 5:4) to heal from negative experiences and move beyond the positive experiences that have occurred in the past. However, the strange irony is that most people generally see forgiveness and grief as unpleasant and something to avoid. But forgiving quickly and grieving well are critical to healing from the past, and both forgiveness and grief can only be initiated and experienced in the present moment.
On the other end of the spectrum, people can focus too much on the future, which also causes missed opportunities in the present. The constant pursuit of happiness, comfort, and success is a problem of epidemic proportions in America (I write about the negative effects of this problem in my book, ‘American Pharisee: Overcoming the Beliefs That Deceive’). The root issue behind this pursuit is generally based upon discontent arising from either unpleasant circumstances or a fear of the unknown future. In both of these situations, a person will work endlessly in an attempt to control the future. But control, for the most part, is an illusion. The only real control a person possesses is how he/she responds to outside forces. And the only way a person can respond to outside forces well is to be grounded in the present moment. Constantly focusing on the future prevents wise decisions from occurring in the present.
Similar to God giving us forgiveness and grief to heal from the past, He has given us gratitude (Psalms 86:12) and faith (Proverbs 3:5-6) to let go of the future. When we recognize that God is the source of everything we need to experience an abundant life, and begin acting in a way that demonstrates we believe this truth, we will experience true freedom.
It is impossible to change the past or control the future, but we can heal from the past and influence the future based on the decisions we make in the present moment.
The past is gone…
The future is not guaranteed…
All we have been given is this present moment in time…a true gift from God
So what is your next decision in this moment?
Your best opportunity is right now…Choose wisely
Kevin Hover is a Christian Author and Life Coach. His new book, 'American Pharisee: Overcoming the Beliefs that Deceive' is a true story of how the pursuit of the American Dream negatively influences a person’s pursuit of God. Like his Facebook page at @kevinhoverauthor and check out more blogs from Kevin at kevinhover.com