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The other day, my laptop stopped working. It had no power at all; just a black screen and silence. At the computer repair shop, the technician took out the battery, plugged in the cord and pressed the power button for several seconds. It turned on and I nearly fainted with relief.

He explained that, rarely, a computer may reach a point where there is so much energy being used that it just calls it a day.  It shuts down and leaves town.

Oddly enough, on the day before my laptop died, I had my own it’s-all-too-much moment. Things started to weigh on my spirit and I had quite a cry. Later, I realized that I had been thinking of negative things, some of which had happened years ago.

It was like taking a virtual tour of old, bad neighborhoods that don’t even exist anymore. Like walking through the remains of a factory that makes obsolete things, like Square Wheels, or Maps for Men. (Just kidding, males of the species! Nothing but love for ya.☺)

There really is no benefit in re-hashing things that were unfair, wrong, or hurtful. The people who did those evil deeds will have to answer for their own bad behavior, but you have the right to let go of what’s wrong. In fact, you have an obligation to your own soul to release what doesn’t serve you. Staying locked into that one location in time is like saying, I don’t want to move forward. I don’t want to feel good. I don’t want to live well.

Focusing attention on what you don’t want means you’re not scanning the horizon for blessings already headed your way. It means you might miss the good life that wants to find you, because the bad life of the past has filled the parking spaces earmarked for joy, warmth, and camaraderie.

It may be time to hit “refresh.” Visualize your life, exactly as you want it to be, in living color. Think of it as a palate-cleanser for the soul.

You’ll find that this choice comes in some form every day:

□Lightness/levity

□Darkness/despair

Do you know what happens to misery when you finally decide to obsess less and say yes to what will bless? In no time at all, it has join Elvis, who – as you know – has left the building. Yep, it shuts down and leaves town.

Catch and Release Picture

 

Some time ago, I had surgery to correct an eye condition called “macular hole.” The other day, I got myself worked up into a lather about it, wishing I’d never had it done. Sure, there had been a big black hole in my vision, but it was in the upper left part, so I could see under it. It was distracting, and I wanted it gone, but there’s no way I would have had the surgery if I thought it would take away my ability to see the world at all with that eye.

For years, I accepted the surgeon’s explanation that my eye just didn’t heal properly. So the onus, in a way, was on me. Not the doctor’s fault. Just bad luck, is all!

But on this day, I re-hashed this bad experience in my mind and couldn’t stop the re-wind button. Then I thought of some words… something I remembered vaguely, in the back of my brain. Some poet had written it…

“Nothing happens but that which God allows….”

Oh! It was me. I wrote that poem a few years ago. I had to look it up on my own blog to get the words right. And then I read it and thought, is this true? Why don’t I feel it in this case? Why do I get so worked up about this and why I can’t get any peace around it?

Nothing happens to you but that which God allows. And if God allows it, there must be a reason for it. And if there’s a reason for it, it must mean you’ll learn something from it.

PS God does send you more than you can bear. That’s how you learn to bear more.

There are some things that just have to live in the limbo of your psyche. That place you label “unresolved.” Things that don’t end with “and they all lived happily ever after.” More like, “happily never after.”

When you let yourself dwell on it for too long, you really steal from yourself. You snatch away time that might be filled with joy. With moments of repose. With sitting, knitting, next to a kitten. With blessings and beignets. With tea and scones with a true-blue friend. With peace and prayer, stillness and serenity.

You might find yourself thinking, this has really got hold of me. But actually… you’ve got hold of it. You’re gripping it, griping about it, letting it seep into your soul.

The answer – even though nobody likes to hear it – is: there is no answer. I know it’s not the spiritually satisfying solution you want to hear. But no matter how much it irks you, works you, sticks you or pricks you…. The only way to live in the present tense is to catch and release. As hard as it is to do, it’s a critical key to being finally free.

Just like the song says. Let it go.

Like so many other people, I’m going through a divorce, and the process has really been slow-going. The other day, I went to the Family Court office to pick up some papers and sat next to a lady who was in obvious distress.

Her stomach growled and she said, “Oh! Excuse me.”

I told her not to worry; “It happens to all of us.”

“Especially to moms,” she nodded.

And she paused, leaned toward me and added, “Especially to worried moms.”

Normally, my modus operandi is to encourage people and listen to their stories, but I had a recent realization that there are some things better left in the past.  Sometimes you can’t move ahead until you release the baggage holding you back.

My usual response to this woman telling me she was a worried mom would have been to say, “Oh, dear.  Are you worried?  Tell me what happened.”

My new approach was dramatically different. “Oh, dear.  Are you worried?  Don’t worry; it will all work out.”

She looked at me sharply, almost annoyed, responding with a disbelieving, “mm-hmm,” as if to say, no it won’t.

Up until recently, I’d let people tell me their troubles, thinking it might be cathartic for them.  As it turns out, when we commiserate with others, it actually prolongs and perpetuates problems.  It doesn’t help to tell everyone you meet a long list of your cares and woes.

Luckily, I got a leg cramp and had to walk it off, and strategically stepped away from this lady, but I overheard her talking to the woman on the other side of her.  There was a very long and sad story with graphic details. They talked intensely for twenty minutes and even exchanged phone numbers and emails.  In a way, they’d made a pinky-pact of sorts, to sit together and pick at soul-scabs until they bled again.

I was so glad I had stuck to my policy: I don’t commiserate anymore.  I’ll co-joy with you any day, but I won’t willingly co-sign your agreement to marinate in misery.

It took me years to learn this lesson, but now I know it in my bones. The only way to solve a problem is to do everything that you know will help and then release it, completely entrusting it to God. Traveling light and partnering with Providence is the only way to go.

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