Breaking Out Of Ruts: Never Go Back

You can’t have a better tomorrow if you are thinking about yesterday all the time – Charles Kettering

The Path

In a car, the windshield is always bigger than the rearview mirror. Although we use the rearview occasionally, we are more dialed into the windshield, to where we are going. Such is the nature of life. 

Here is how I see it. We:

  1. Learn from the past.
  2. Live in the present.
  3. Lean to the future.

We learn from the past so that we don’t become repeat offenders in the things that drain, derail, and delay our progress. We live in the present to maximize our potential, prepare for the future, and celebrate wins along the way. We lean toward the future because that’s the direction we are heading, where our dreams and destiny lie.

In his book, The Principle of the Path, Andy Stanley mentions we end up in the places we are most attracted to, even though we never intended to go there. He uses driving as an example. If you intend to go right but keep looking left, your destination will always be left. He says, “We don’t drift in good directions. We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.”

When we live in our past, we end up placing more value on our memories than on our dreams. If our memories are greater than our dreams, it means we have stopped living and simply exist.

Look Ahead

Your opportunities are always ahead of you. Your regrets, mistakes, and failures are behind you. You cannot take advantage of the opportunities ahead of you if you are still mulling over your regrets, mistakes, and failures. They will torment you and suck all your passion and desire from what’s ahead of you. On the brink of every opportunity, you will hear the voice of your regrets and failures alongside the voice of hope. Whichever voice you lean into will determine how your approach life. Choose hope!

Paying The Price

Many of us are attracted to the opportunities, but we underestimate the cost. Your gift is given by God free of charge, but to grow and walk in it will cost you. It might cost you some relationships you are holding onto but are toxic to your progress. It might cost you the time that you have to commit to growing your gift, which may not be desirable but fruitful. What are you willing to give up in order to walk in the opportunities you have been given? It might cost you in terms of the traditions and thoughts that are no longer productive for progress. You may feel unqualified for your opportunity and gift, but qualification is not the determining factor. Your gift, whatever it might be, is a gift. It is our responsibility to use the gifts and the opportunities we have to be productive and fruitful.

We often cite a lack of strength as why we can’t do what we are gifted to do. Most of the time, what we lack is not strength, but determination. Determination is the application of the strength you have within (no matter how small) for as long as necessary to overcome obstacles standing in your way despite discomfort and discouragement.

Fertilizers Of Life

I was brought up in the city and have limited farming experience. When we visited my grandparents, they used fertilizer to enhance the growth potential of the crops they had planted. The fertilizer smelled terrible. It was composed of cow dung and decomposed organic materials. I always wondered how something that smelt so bad would produce something edible. We will experience discomfort when we apply ourselves to our gifts and opportunities. Not only that, but we will experience some disappointments, frustrations, and failures along the way. Sometimes it is the things we don’t prefer that are used to bring out something productive. Similar to the manure my grandparents used on their crops.

Don’t Go Back

When you face discomfort on your journey to your destiny, it is easy to look back and wish for times when things seemed easier than what you are facing now. That’s a con designed to deter you from what you were made to do and tempt you to go back to a lesser version of yourself. After surgery to repair my tibia which I injured while playing soccer a few years ago,  I used crutches to get around. I became dependent on them. After some time, I had to let go of the crutches and start walking on my own again. There were moments when I walked without crutches that my knee hurt so bad that I wanted to go back to the crutches, using pain as my excuse. The more I desired to go back to the crutches, the more my determination to get back to running, which was my eventual goal, waned. If I went back to crutches, I would still be stuck with them and nowhere closer to my goal. I decided to use the discomfort and pain as fertilizer to grow into the place I knew I was meant to be. Crutches in our lives represent whatever excuse we are using or whatever we keep going back to when we are discouraged, uncomfortable, and even disappointed as we grow in the gifts that have been deposited in us. What are your crutches? You may only be able to let go of one crutch at a time but celebrate the progress, no matter how small.

Final Thought: Letting go of one excuse means you are closing the distance to your destiny. You will also realize you can function better without the excuse once you let it go. Over time you discover that life is better and more effective without the reasons you thought you couldn’t do without. Remember, the windshield is always bigger than the review. Never go back!

Keep on Keeping on!

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