In the 1989 movie Steel Magnolias, Dolly Parton’s character tells her friend who doubts someone is old enough to have a past, “If you can achieve puberty, you can achieve a past.” This movie contains a plethora of quotable quotes and that’s one of the things I love about it. She is right, too. Everyone has a past. You don’t have to be 30 or 40 or 50 to achieve a past. All you need is one yesterday.
When people learn something about me that surprises them because it doesn’t fit who I am today, I am not afraid to admit that I have a past. Maybe some people popped into this world all sweetness and light and never did anything they regretted or had anything painful happen to them, but most of us didn’t. Most of us have things in our rear view mirror that invite us to regret decisions, or wish we knew then what we know now.
I used to live in a continual state of regret. I was stuck in the belief that if only I hadn’t done this thing or that thing, then this other bad thing wouldn’t have happened, or my life would be so much better. It was not a fun way to live. I am so grateful that I was able to let go of that and to embrace the reality that God is in control, that he knows what he is doing, and that everything happens for a reason.
Now, I can see how the “bad” things in my past played a part in ushering in the “good” things in my present, and how if that difficult thing hadn’t happened then this other wonderful thing would never have occurred. It is beautifully freeing to be given permission to let go of regret and to simply accept the path that lies behind me, and trust that with each step I take I am being equipped and prepared for whatever lies ahead.
Don’t despise your past. God knows what he is doing!