As I sit here writing my self-assessment for the month of May, I realize two things.
The first is that I continue to slowly become more and more comfortable with myself, especially since my quarter-life-crisis last year. With the aid of being around family, returning to school, becoming more active with my church choir, and in general many other people/places/activities that have been good for me, I can strongly say that I am surrounded by what I consider many “safe places” right now. By “safe place”, I mean people, environments, activities, etc. which bring out the best in me, keep me productive in a positive & constructive way, bring me joy, and make me want to be a better person. In these safe places, I can find love, laughter, and other things I need to grow constructively as a person. So yes, my family is a safe place. School is a safe place. The part-time jobs I have while school are safe places. Singing with the church choir is a safe place. Certain close friends who are good to see, talk to, trust and laugh with are safe places. Certain adults I respect, enjoy talking to and might aspire to be like are safe places. Most importantly, staying connected to God in prayer and seeking to do things both for and because of Him is the safest place there can possibly be.
Now, the second thing is how my past plays a role in the forward direction I’ve been moving in. Of course, I’ve been a firm believer for years in not letting yesterday bother you to the point of keeping you from doing what you need to today – rather you should learn from the good and the bad, then prepare for tomorrow with that in mind. However, there traces of my past that haunt me regularly, frequently shifting my judgement as to whether the things I am preparing for tomorrow are worth it. “This didn’t work the first time around so well, what makes you think you can do better this time?” “You won’t be any different.” “You’ll never get these chances again. May well try something else.” “You aren’t that great anyway.” “How long must this go on?” These are all just a few of the thoughts that float around my mind in regards to how my past could possibly affect my future. Chances are, it will always be an issue in the back of my mind just because of the roller coaster of emotions and situations it all took me through. But can I survive with these thoughts in the back of my mind forever? How will it affect me emotionally or spiritually? Will it affect trying to find a wife & start a family carrying emotional baggage? Will it affect me professionally when I’m trying to accomplish various goals of mine? Will it have a downward spiral on my relationship with God or come back tenfold as I approach my midlife crisis on 20 years?
The answer to these questions, and so many more, is that there is definitely a chance of these things. A chance. But how far everything goes is really up to me. When my past comes knocking on the door (and I’ll admit, I have peeked in the peephole for a couple seconds), I’ve had to train myself to leave the door closed. Re-opening what had already been closed only allows those things to re-enter your house, which I’ve already suffered from. Last time I let them in, I indulged in things that were selfishly unhealthy for me because I blinded myself to that which was good for me, thinking that I needed something to be happy about. I let my emotions get the best of my thoughts, actions, words, and judgement. Eventually I had to tear myself away from these things and that environment in order to survive – to continue to dwell in my emotional curveball, I’m convinced, would only have led to a demise I can’t begin to imagine.
As dark as that may sound, I can guarantee it’s the truth. This is why I say, I’m more than grateful for my “safe places” today. I won’t sit here and try to convince you, the reader, that I’m a “good guy.” That is for you to decide upon knowing me well enough. I will say that I was raised to know right vs. wrong on many things, with values rooted strongly in faith with God. So my entire quarter-life-crisis was a long hauled left-of-center kind of deal.
What I can say now is this: My past is not who I am. It doesn’t define me. Anyone who ever has something in their past that they aren’t proud of or wish didn’t happen deserves to be judged by who they are today and who they are on there way to becoming. Some of you may have read previous posts about my aspirations and other thoughts as I acknowledged things about myself in order to help my personal growth. Now that I’ve gotten through the “learning from acknowledgement” phase and have put the pieces of my confidence back together, my goals now for the next month are not to let my past tear down the progress I’ve made. If I continue to do that, I will only set myself back into square one. I plan to use a lot of prayer, further reflection, plans for my future, and my “safe places” to keep me guided on the right track.
“And we know that all things work to the good for them that love God” – Romans 8:28
“Clear the bar…raise the standard.” – Pastor Ronald J. Fowler
“Be kind to your present so your past can’t make a liar out of your future.” – BB2
Yours in the journey,