Considering the Past and the Present
In 2015 and 2016 I went through some radical and terrible changes in my life. 2015 – the sudden death of my husband. 2016 – cancer.
Those two years ushered me into a long period in which I had a great deal of time alone, unable to do anything other than think. It was deeper than just random thoughts. It was a meditation; consideration; evaluation; deep inner examination; retrospective inner dialogue; days and weeks of pain, loneliness and inability to do anything else; feeling as if I was wasting my life. Then, a gradual realization of the massive change I was going through – truly a metamorphosis. Also, an acknowledgment that I had gained a different perspective on life – my life. It was not a period of examination of others – just me.
Understanding and embracing the present requires examining the past. That can be painful. It was good to remember my husband and our almost-49-years together – it was painful. However, I had to look at who and what I had been in order to accept the changes which were happening whether willingly or unwillingly. Too much focus on the past can produce a great melancholy if you simply dwell on regrets. The past has to be balanced by the present and the future (even if you don’t know if you have a future). For a while I didn’t know but am now cancer free.
I had always understood the value of meditating on my Savior and His Word – listening to His voice. Until now, I had not recognized the value of simply allowing that flow to occur inside my own life. What I thought were wasted days gradually turned into strength, compassion, hope, and profound change in who I am now. I discovered me. I found emotions I had not had. I found myself opening up in ways I never had. I found confidence. The years of tears produced a gentler life.
It did not come easily or painlessly. It came by opening up to now and by being willing to do the unwanted or unexpected. As we all know, the deepest changes come out of the darkest pain. It is up to us whether to emerge better or worse. Many days I fought and defied the darkness and negativity of the past, choosing to come to the present and be thankful for what I had without ignoring what I lost.
I would encourage you to “waste some time.” Find that time alone – at home, in the car, on a park bench, by the ocean, wherever – to let yourself go inward to the best and deepest part of you - and then, back out to now. Don’t focus on the worst – if the Spirit of God dwells in you, then the deepest part is always good. The rest of it is not what matters – we all sin, fail, do stuff we regret – put it at His feet and move on. For me, it happens most easily when I have my eyes on nature allowing myself to be consumed by the outward beauty. If flows to the inside – beauty begets beauty.
Today, a Blue Jay (I think) came to visit. He was beautiful. I love birds because they can float on an unseen current of life. I can do the same – float on the unseen current of God’s breath in my soul if I allow myself to. Over the past hour he has come back over and over again – careful, ever-watchful, yet free. The past does not hold him down on the ground. He has used it to learn how to fly and how to live. I have an ever-greater privilege than him. Not only can I be free and unburdened, I can consider and make choices. I can take the lessons of the past and use them to help others. I can smile through tears. I can be thankful and rejoice.
You may not see any benefit first. Don’t give up. Keep coming back, like the Blue Jay. He first tried to feed at a small feeder near the ground and found it very difficult. Finally, he discovered the big feeder located much higher and was able to rest and eat. It required many, many trips from my yard to nearby trees but he knew what he wanted and didn’t quit till he got it.
Trust me – the effort is worth it!