It sat there, staring balefully at me. Not rude, exactly. Just forceful. Blunt.
Oh, I don’t know when it actually arrived in my inbox. I just know it’s one of the first things to hit my eye because it came from somebody I know isn’t trivial with life. It was something I knew I needed to read. Knowing the source, I probably needed to respond.
That’s always easier to do if I read and absorb first and then give my thoughts. I’m not a politician.
I opened it. I read it. Hesitated. Went back and reread it.
I sat back, considering its impact. I leaned forward, top two fingers and thumb of my right hand automatically curling into their familiar spot on the handle of my T S Eliot coffee mug. I took a sip. Mmm. Okay, another. Then I read it a third time.
You probably are wanting to know what it is by this time.
It’s one of those direct statements that has the ability to help shape and change your day-to-day living if you apply its truth.
I’ll tell you what it is if you’ll agree to be responsible for it once you’ve read it at least a couple of times.
Okay. Here it is . . .
The past is nothing more than a starting place. It determines only where you start from today, but it never has a vote on where you go from here.
People. Events. Places. You attach good or bad, positive or negative importance to them. We all do that.
I remember the Carollo kids. Always in trouble, and always at least three of them together. Always wanting to pick a fight knowing they could gang up on whoever their target was that day. I always seemed to be in their rotation. They likely grew up to be paragons of virtue, but back there in Kidhood, they were Class-A jerks.
I remember at 9 recovering from hernia surgery and having the old man in the bed next to me actively dying. The next year after that I had a major bike crash. Skull fracture. Concussion. Out in La-La land for 3 days. That’s what they told me. Could’ve been 3 years for all I knew.
I remember the first house fire I stood and watched. We were in the next block and could still feel the power and fury of that heat. We saw how quickly it destroyed that duplex. From then until we moved, I never glanced at that vacant lot without a weird feeling in my gut. There used to be a house there. People used to live in it and I knew them.
People. Events. Places. You don’t just forget them. They are background for your story. They are what they are. More importantly, they were what they were. They’re not any more.
Scroll back up and read it again. Yeah, right now. Read it aloud to yourself. I’ll wait . . .
There’s a reason it’s called The Passing Lane. It’s for letting oncoming traffic pass, and for getting around slower traffic and moving on.
What’s in your rear view mirrors has no hold on you unless you’re dragging it along with you. The only value of people, events and places in your past is what can be learned from them. That’s it. They are powerless to dictate what you do and who you are today, right here, right now.
What’s in your past has NO hold on you unless you’re hauling it around with you.
You’re the one who chooses what today will be like. Nobody from your past, no matter how imposing or demanding, can dictate to you who you can be or what you can or can’t do.
Did you know that when you keep trying to live someplace in your past, you force God out? Way back in the past when Moses was supposed to tell Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” old Moses got a little scared. He said, “Hey, God? No offense, Sir, but I been herding sheep out here. I’m just gonna waltz in there to Pharaoh and make demands? I mean, who do I tell ‘im sent me?”
“You just tell him “I AM” sent you.”
Cutting to the chase. When you decide–and you’re the one choosing to do it–to live or relive in the past, God’s not there. He’s eternally, once-and-for-all I AM. Not “I used to be” or “I will be some day”. God is the I AM.
If you insist on operating your life by living in the past God says, “I love you and I want to help you–but as long as you persist in living in yesterday, I won’t be there. I’m always right here, right now, today. THIS is where I’ll always be with you and never leave you by yourself. But you’ve got to be living here in this moment–not trying to live (or relive) back there.”
Friend, no matter what or who is in your past, none of it has a vote on where you go from here. Nothing back there has any power over you or your thinking that you don’t first give it.
So don’t. You’re free to choose, to use the passing lane for what I already mentioned. Let stuff just whiz on by and recede in your mirrors. Other than the lessons you can learn from it, don’t give it a second thought. Let ’em go. Then use the passing lane to pull out and around stuff that’s slowing you down.
And then move on with the life you need to be living now. The one you choose.
I love you and I believe in you.
© June 2013