I don’t know who said it first, but I love the saying “You must learn from the past, plan for the future, and live in the present.” This is the way life is supposed to be lived. If you try to do it another way you will live as a slave to chaos, and uncertainty. All three parts of this saying are important to a well-balanced life when we keep their parts in proper perspective.
The past is important in that it made us who we are. If we learn from it, all those successes and failures can teach us how to avoid the same mistakes in the future. All the mistakes we’ve made, and all the rejections we’ve received, can give us the strength to succeed. If you live in the past, you will live a life full of regret, and self-pity. You will obsess over that one moment where you passed up an opportunity to advance. You use past rejections to justify the feeling that you will never be good enough to deserve the life you want.
On the other hand, the future is important in that it gives us direction, and something to look forward to. When we plan for the future, it will become a map to guide us to our dreams. It will help us to make the right decisions so we don’t turn the wrong direction. People who live in the future end up obsessing about every possible disaster looming over the next horizon. They never reach their dreams because they are too busy worrying about the next epidemic, or they think the government is using our money to destroy the world. They are slaves to paranoia and fear. They may know they’re good enough to have their dreams, but what’s the point, we are all doomed. They live hopeless lives, because to them life has no hope.
Living in the present means that we have learned enough to move forward. It means that life is still hopeful, and that we hold the key to our future. We can grieve for our loved ones when they leave us, and we can face setbacks in our lives, but we can move through these because God has given us strength from the events in our past, and a purpose to move toward.
The important thing to remember in all this is we can’t change the past, and the future has not been determined, so it’s up to us to make it a good one, and give it meaning for the present.
Challenge: Write in your journal about your plans for your future, and re-read it often. It will help you through some hard moments in your life.