ENSIGN – January 2010

Shortly after my parents’ divorce, an old country song came on the radio, I’m Movin’ On, by Rascal Flats:

I’ve lived in this place and I know all the faces
Each one is different but they’re always the same
They mean me no harm but it’s time that I face it
They’ll never allow me to change
But I never dreamed home would end up where I don’t belong
I’m movin’ on

There comes a time in everyone’s life
When all you can see are the years passing by
And I have made up my mind that those days are gone

I sold what I could and packed what I couldn’t
Stopped to fill up on my way out of town
I’ve loved like I should but lived like I shouldn’t
I had to lose everything to find out
Maybe forgiveness will find me somewhere down this road
I’m movin’ on

And I cried. Then I bought the song and listened to it again, and I cried. I don’t know what happened in their marriage. They’ve never confided in me what happened. And maybe I wouldn’t be ready for it anyway.

But I guess I felt some measure of comfort in “labeling” what I thought I understood about my dad: They mean me no harm but it’s time that I face it, they’ll never allow me to change. But I never dreamed home would end up where I don’t belong. I’m movin’ on.

Comfort is what we are looking for when we are hurt, right? And we often look for that comfort in creating stories, so that we can “understand” what others were thinking or what their motives were or what really happened. We look for comfort in creating these stories – usually without us even knowing it, our brains go directly to creating these stories.

“We are hard-wired to make sense of hurt, as fast as we can. And if we can come up with a story that makes sense of it, our brain chemically rewards us for that story. Whether it is accurate or not.”

https://livingandtravelingwithkids.com/2019/11/day-25/

But there is a better way. And that better way includes staying in non-judgement. Test that story, question that story in your mind. Is it possible that nothing has gone wrong.

That better way includes loving people where they are at. Walking with them as they discover who they are and what they want for their lives.

I’m intentionally moving towards non-judgement – nothing has gone wrong.

Can I do that for my dad? Can I do that for ME? It’s a gift to ME, when I can live in non-judgement.

Can I do that for my mom? Can I offer myself the gift of loving my mom, where she is at, as she discovers who she is now and where she wants to be going? Can I live in non-judgement? Can I let her change? Can I let the story I believe in my mind about her change or even drop?

“…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before (us).”

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/nt/philip/3?lang=eng

In DAY #266 Brooke taught us about creating our future selves, in our minds, and then believing in who it is we can become – that future self. And she leaves us with this warning:

“Unbelief can come in our own self-doubts, and also in the doubts of others. Those around us may hold us hostage in our own identity.”

https://livingandtravelingwithkids.com/2020/07/day-266-your-future-self/

And this is what I am getting at today: Do I hold others hostage in their own identity, or rather in the story I’ve made up in my mind about their identity, right? Do I let people change and evolve and live their lives, or do I hold on to the past?

This story is a vivid example of a community holding a man hostage to his past self:

I was told once of a young man who for many years was more or less the brunt of every joke in his school. He had some disadvantages, and it was easy for his peers to tease him. Later in his life he moved away. He eventually joined the army and had some successful experiences there in getting an education and generally stepping away from his past. Above all, as many in the military do, he discovered the beauty and majesty of the Church and became active and happy in it.

Then, after several years, he returned to the town of his youth. Most of his generation had moved on but not all. Apparently, when he returned quite successful and quite reborn, the same old mind-set that had existed before was still there, waiting for his return. To the people in his hometown, he was still just old “so-and-so”—you remember the guy who had the problem, the idiosyncrasy, the quirky nature, and did such and such. And wasn’t it all just hilarious?

Little by little this man’s Pauline effort to leave that which was behind and grasp the prize that God had laid before him was gradually diminished until he died about the way he had lived in his youth. He came full circle: again inactive and unhappy and the brunt of a new generation of jokes. Yet he had had that one bright, beautiful midlife moment when he had been able to rise above his past and truly see who he was and what he could become. Too bad, too sad that he was again to be surrounded by a whole batch of Lot’s wives, those who thought his past was more interesting than his future. They managed to rip out of his grasp that for which Christ had grasped him. And he died sad, though through little fault of his own.

“Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is that charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ.

Faith is always pointed toward the future.”

Future me. Future Dad. Future Mom. Can I do some work – hard work – now to heal from the past, and move forward, leaving the past in the past, rather than holding on to the hurt and the stories that do not serve me well and certainly do not serve the other characters in the story well?

“Forgive and do that which is sometimes harder than to forgive: forget. And when it comes to mind again, forget it again…

(Not doing so) stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the Atonement of Christ…

Dismiss the destructive, and keep dismissing it until the beauty of the Atonement of Christ has revealed to you your bright future and the bright future of your family, your friends, and your neighbors.”

Future them. Future me. Future us.

Bryant and I were discussing Future Us – what does our future marriage look like?

“God doesn’t care nearly as much about where you have been as He does about where you are and, with His help, where you are willing to go… Keep your eyes on your dreams, however distant and far away. Live to see the miracles of repentance and forgiveness, of trust and divine love that will transform your life today, tomorrow, and forever.”

That better way includes faith. The best is yet to be.