There was once a girl who had a secret about her past. It haunted her day and night, sometimes she cried herself to sleep. She had been dating this wonderful guy at the office for nine months, and she was dreading the day he would find out about this secret. It made her ill with worry and she was often sad and depressed. The weight of the guilt was heavy on her, so much so, that she stopped enjoying the present. She began to dwell in the past, reliving her mistakes over and over, worrying and beating herself up over it.
One day, her manager at work found her crying. He called her and asked her what was wrong. Faced with a person who showed concern about her welfare, she finally told him. She had an eight-year old son that nobody knew about. He lived with her mother in a different town and she saw him once a month. The reason she was so upset was that she regretted her mistakes, but she was worried about what her new boyfriend would say or do when he found out.
Her manager, who was a wise man, asked her a few questions:
Do you regret your past?
She said yes.
Do you wish you could go back in time to do things differently?
Can you actually go back and change things?
She paused for a moment. Then she shook her head.
Is there any way that the mistake would go away?
Do you realise that while you are hung up about the past, your present and future happiness is slipping away?
She paused to reflect on this.
If you cannot change the outcome of your past mistakes, don’t you think it’s time to stop beating yourself up over it?
That had not occurred to her.
If you like this guy and you think he likes you too, the best thing you can do is to be honest with him. That way you will be right with yourself. It is a risk, but the result is that no matter what happens, you have let go of the guilt and fear that is holding you back.
She thanked her manager and left his office. Later that evening, she summoned up the courage to tell her boyfriend about her son. To her surprise, he was not upset. In fact, he was delighted to hear that she had a child because he recently found out that he couldn’t have children. The next weekend, they went to visit her mother together. All her worries, fears and anxieties melted away when she saw her boyfriend and her son getting along so well together. By the time they were leaving, her son was sad to see them go, and he asked when her boyfriend could come and visit again. It was a step forward. She didn't need to worry about her secret anymore.
* * * * *
Now this story is fiction, but I wanted to highlight a few lessons that I’ve learnt recently. One is about dwelling in the past. We all have chapters in our lives that we wish we would erase or re-write. It’s part of life, part of growing up, part of learning who we are. I’ve had to learn to let my past go. I cannot change it, I cannot undo it. And the more I dwelt on it, I found out that it was a heavy burden, sapping my energy, draining the joy of my present, and blocking me from moving on with my future. If this applies to you, I would urge you to take another look at the issue. The past is gone; there is nothing you can do to change what happened. What you can change however, is your attitude. You have to forgive yourself of the mistakes and stop beating yourself over it. You have to deal with the guilt by admitting that you did something wrong, but God will forgive you if you ask Him to. And once you have learnt from the mistake, you can move ahead with your life, knowing that you are a better and wiser person for it.
Another lesson I’ve learnt is sharing my burdens. Some of us pretend that we’ve got it all together, and we don’t need help. We give people an illusion that we have no problems, no weaknesses and no struggles. Yet, we are crumbling under the weight of problems on the inside. We need to stop trying to pretend like we know-it-all and be humble enough to ask for help when we are struggling. Nobody is perfect, nobody knows everything. If you ask for help, it doesn’t make you a weak person; it makes you a wise person.
And finally: honesty. I’ve been told that honesty is the best policy, but sometimes I’m still surprised by the truth in it. I find that, when I come clean and admit my mistakes, people don’t judge me half as bad as I judge myself. Sometimes I’ve been struggling with an issue for months, and finally when I discuss it with hubby, the problem seems to shrink in size to almost nothing. I’ve realised that it’s okay to admit to yourself and your husband that you have weaknesses, fears, doubts and struggles. That’s what is meant by “naked and not ashamed”. You should be comfortable enough with each other to share each other’s struggles, and find solutions together. That’s why he or she is there to support you.
Sometimes I feel quite silly for trying to bear my struggles alone. I think that sometimes, the last person we listen to is our spouse. When we have a problem, we assume we can pray about, or share with a friend, or seek help elsewhere. All of which are good, but they can also be tactics to try and cover up who we are with our spouse. It’s a slippery road; once you start hiding things from your spouse or significant other, you start building a wall between you. And the longer it goes on, the higher that wall becomes. When all we need can just simply be: come clean; admit we have a weakness and we can then work together to find a solution as a couple.
If we reflect on these things, we find that it is fear and pride that holds us back. Fear blows our issues out of proportion, such that, in our minds, we feel we are going to get judged by everyone else. Pride prevents us from admitting that we are not perfect, and we need other people to help us. But what sweet relief we get; when we do confront our fears and swallow our pride. We find peace.
Stay blessed and favoured!