If you want your life to be a magnificent story, then begin by realizing that you are the author. —Mark Houlahan
We’ve all met someone who seems stuck in the past. You know the type—always blaming others in their past for the way things stand in the present. And having no hope that their lives will change in the future. These people can’t (or won’t) move on. They not only blame their current life circumstances on people from their past, but often excuse their own behavior because of things that happened in the past. They forget that they are the author of their own story.
On the other hand, there are many stories of people who have overcome their past, and we find inspiration in those stories. These people have taken hold of the reins. They are guiding their own lives. They refuse to give up their present and future because of something that happened in their past. They are not willing to give further power to people who may have hurt them in the past, so they move on and write their own stories.
I am deeply humbled and in awe of a friend who had a horrific childhood of abuse and neglect. This person has grabbed hold of her life, given it a good shake, and turned it into something beautiful. She has moved on. She is a loving wife and mother. She serves others around her. Never an unkind word leaves her mouth. As she enters a room, you feel her sweet spirit. She is a loving and nurturing person. She sets the example of forgiveness and love for us all. She teaches us that the present and the future need not be all about the past.
It is possible to take the lessons from your past, apply them to your future, and make your life better without dwelling on the past or playing the blame game. Parents are sometimes frustrated by children who blame them for all the bad things that happen in their lives. This usually begins in the teenage years and sometimes is carried through another decade or longer. Once they start having children of their own, they often see things from a different perspective; but not always. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we had the ability to see things from the eyes of our parents as they were dealing with us? Better yet, what would we see if we could see things from an eternal perspective?
Everything that I am is because of the trials I have endured. That is true for all of us. It is how we deal with adversity and what we make of it afterwards that counts. Will our past make us bitter and angry, or will it make us kinder and gentler? That depends totally on attitude and what we want the end result to be. That is where setting a goal comes into play. I can set a goal to live my life getting through every day until I die—OR I can set a goal to be the best person I can be and help others along the way to do the same. I like the second goal better. By setting that second goal, I have raised the bar higher so that I can truly write my own story.
There seems to be a huge myth circulating that our happiness depends on other people in our lives. No one else has the responsibility to make you happy. Take responsibility for your own happiness. Nobody can change your story but you. You are the author of your life.
You can’t change what happened in your past, but you can be free from it by accepting it for what it is, learning from it, and then unchaining yourself from it. Be free of it. Move on. Write the next chapter. You can’t ignore the past, but you don’t have to wallow in it either. Heal yourself from your past through the power of the atonement.
The final healing comes through faith in Jesus Christ and His teachings, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and obedience to His commandments. That is why human reaction to challenge in life that engenders hatred, despondency, distrust, anger, or revenge must be supplanted by the tender mercies of a loving Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son (Richard G. Scott, To Be Healed, Apr. 1994 General Conference).
True healing comes through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Only through that healing is it possible to free ourselves from the chains that bind us, move on, and write our own stories. Don’t let the ghosts of your past be your ghost writer. With broken heart and contrite spirit, kneel in prayer and ask for healing. Then be the author of your own magnificent story. You have the power through God-given agency to write the ending of your book.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.