Past, Present, Future.

Past, Present, Future. December 26, 2010

Most of us have seen or read some version of “A Christmas Carol”. The story is about an old man named Ebeneezer Scrooge who has no compassion or Christmas Spirit. On Christmas Eve, he is visited by 3 ghosts who teach him what he is missing and change his life forever.

When I was a kid, I used to pray that my Dad would have a “Christmas Carol” dream. I wished that somehow he would be forced to face his past, realize what he was doing in the present, and change in time for the future.

Today, I still see people that could use a similar dream, and I fall into the temptations of tunnel vision myself at times. I am still not sure what it is that can trap us into tunnel vision, but I am becoming more and more convinced that being blind to our past, present, or future is not healthy.


We can have mixed feelings about the past. Some people seem let their past define them, pain or abuse from years before controls who they believe themselves to be, They are convinced that they cannot change because of how their past defines them. Or maybe they are determined that the past will not be repeated, and their whole lives become wrapped up in the mission to prove the past wrong, shaking with fear every time the past comes knocking. Some people go to the opposite extreme, they have wonderful memories of their past, and often wish they could go back in time to “the golden age”.


Some people seem to have a hard time acknowledging their past, good or bad. They won’t talk about it, won’t recognize past mistakes or achievements, and get upset if anyone else happens to bring it up. People trapped in the present often have a hard time seeing how far they’ve come, life feels like an endless repetitive cycle. The future is unknown and scary, there is not much to hope for, and life becomes meaningless.

And there are the people obsessed with the future. Enjoying life is impossible because it is never good enough, it could always be better. Someday when they have more money, when they graduate, when they can vacation more, when the kids grow up, then, finally life will be good. Every day feels like a failure because it is a waste of time. Life is on hold until certain achievements and life goals have arrived.

Somehow, in the middle of temptation to let the past define us, be obsessed with our future, or blind to both, how can we find a healthy balance?

How do you take the right steps to acknowledge and process your past, grieving what you’ve lost and growing from what you’ve learned? To revel in the present, living each day for today and rejoicing in the little things that make life what it is? To look forward to the future, with all of the hopes and dreams that come with it, but without putting our life on hold until we get there?

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