Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast. This will be given Oct. 15, 2017.
How often have you caught yourself ruminating over something that happened in the past, wishing you had said something or done something differently? We’ve all done this, sometimes replaying an event in our minds, over and over again, the way we wish it would have happened.
It’s good to learn from the past, but looking too long in the rearview mirror can be dangerous. This is especially true when we’ve accumulated hurt feelings or disappointments that we keep revisiting.
When we carry the burdens of the past, we cannot live joyfully now. We cannot anticipate a bright future because all of it is shaded by the resentment we continue to harbor. A woman who found herself lying awake at night, stewing over long-ago injustices and regrets, chose to imagine herself stepping on each painful memory as if they were boulders heaped in a pile. With every step, she climbed higher until she had moved beyond the pile to the serenity of a grassy meadow, drenched with sunlight and peace. She finally found contentment by realizing that while she cannot change the boulders, she can choose to step away from them. In fact, by putting them beneath her, she could use them to elevate her life to a better place.
There’s wisdom in the Maori proverb “Turn your face to the sun, and the shadows fall behind you.” When we let the past stay in the past and turn our attention to that which is bright and promising, our hearts feel renewed energy and our step is lighter. Not only that, but we become a blessing to others, as well. When we take control of our thoughts and look for the good we can do, we become kinder, less focused upon ourselves and more pleasant to be around.
Another word for this positive, forward-looking approach to life is forgiveness. Sometimes we simply need to forgive someone who has wronged us. And just as often, we need to forgive ourselves. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we are happy with what happened. It just means we no longer give the past the power to control our present. It means we have chosen to move forward into a positive future.
The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM, ksl.com, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143), mormontabernaclechoir.org and youtube.com/mormontabchoir. The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. MDT on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.org/schedules.