Wow, it has been quite a while since I have written on here. A lot has happened in the year since I last posted. I finished my LDS mission, I have done some school at BYU, and I have had quite a few… learning opportunities.
You see, near the end of my two years serving in Florida I had become comfortable with my situation. Most people would call a bunch of 18-21 year old kids crazy for leaving the comforts of their lives to live in a new area simply to teach people about Jesus. Most people DO call us crazy. I, however, grew to like it. I loved knowing exactly who I was and what my role was. I knew the material I was to teach and I had fun. I was confident, which was something I had never been before.
Well, the inevitable day came on September 18th of last year. I came home. I sat on the plane, waiting to be thrust back into a world that I thought I was ready for. I remained confident. Those first couple of weeks were great. It was as if nothing had changed. I woke up at 6:30, went for a run, got ready for my day, studied my scriptures, and spent the rest of the day telling stories of my wonderful years as a representative of Christ; my “Glory days”.
The problem, however, is that my “Glory days” were gone and life hit me like a ton of bricks. And then it happened. I couldn’t sleep. This was something that I had dealt with for years before my mission but I hadn’t had much of a problem with it during those two years. To be perfectly honest, I was terrified that first night since coming home that I couldn’t sleep. To me it was as if my entire mission had been wiped away and my past had finally become my present once more. I believed for quite some time that I was a lost cause and that I could never be the confident man I was while I wore the suit and tie. I was done for.
It’s amazing how incredibly alone and tired you can feel when you truly believe that you will forever be stuck in the same place, never to move on or progress. I’m just going to assume that you have felt something similar. Most people have. The bright spot comes when you realize that you are not as stuck as you have led yourself to believe.
It has taken me a while, and I doubt that I have finally grasped the full concept, but I have begun to realize just how silly the idea of being stuck in the past is. In fact, it is quite impossible to be stuck in the past. The past is gone. It is old news, behind you, over. You cannot bring it back and neither can anyone else. For better or for worse, it is gone.
It is true that I can attempt to get myself stuck in the past, but even then, I am simply choosing to do now what I did then. It is a choice I am making now.
One of the most wonderful, and terrifying, things I have learned is that I cannot live in the past. Wonderful because I know that I can make new decisions today to change the course I decide to be on. Terrifying because I know that I cannot rely on good decisions of the past to get me through the decisions I face today. As Rafiki says, “It doesn’t matter. It’s in the past.”
Overall, however, I believe this knowledge to be some of the greatest knowledge a person can learn, and not just because you can realize that you don’t have to go back to being an insomniac. I think most of us have a past that we have tried to live in or run from. We have a future we are trying to make a reality. However, none of these really matter now. The future is for goal setting and the past is for learning from. It doesn’t matter if I have made the mistakes of ten men yesterday, as long as I am willing to change my decisions to reflect a good man today. On the other side, serving a mission and being a good man yesterday will mean nothing if I do not live up to the standards from here on out.
Every day is an opportunity to change; to become better than I was the day before. Every choice a chance to decide what kind of man I will be right here and right now. Sure I will make more mistakes. Sure I’ll have more sleepless nights, dark days, and cold nights, but those days will not define me. I will, hopefully, be remembered as someone who never gave up, who didn’t live in the past but who fought to make himself better now. And, hopefully, you will be too.
I know it is possible to leave the past behind and create a better now. I know it is possible to change. completely. A mistake of the past does not have to define the direction of our future, but only if we are willing to change. Christ makes that change possible. He has gone through your past; every second of it. He knows what future you can have. He is there with you and with me every step of the way.
“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”