Forget About The Cart And The Horse!
Everything you've heard about "you're putting the cart before the horse" was a lie! Well at least in terms of forgiving yourself... Well maybe, depending on what you've heard. You could have heard the healthy version I suppose!
So you're probably wondering what I am getting on about. Well it would probably make sense to summarize the back story. I will spare you and everyone else the gory details. I've spent the better part of 15 years grinding as fast as I could away from my mistakes, my failures, my choices that lead to my life and family falling apart. It wasn't until this past week when the Lord spoke through my best friend that I started to realize something.
That something was the fact that while I was overcoming my old self. I hadn't left everything behind... Even though I had convinced myself I had. There was still something tagging along for the journey. And that was myself. I was still carrying myself far and away from my past.
FYI That doesn't work...
You can't carry yourself away from your past and still have yourself in your future!
Now that might sound crazy, but hear me out. I was carrying myself by not facing myself, by not forgiving myself. Ironically I didn't realize this nor could I see this until I sat down and faced myself. It was then that I realized I had continued forward in life, fleeing from my past self, determined to become a new man while I was dragging my old self along for the ride.
It was an odd thing honestly. I had to force myself to stop and sit down, literally stop. And then I had to turn around. You see I have spent 15 years working to become a better person. Working to be a person who loves people well. Working to have integrity, grace, patience and compassion over selfishness. But as I sat down and started to emotionally turn around and look back at the life behind me I became paralyzed. I didn't want to do it. Because there was a lot of wreckage back there. All the things that had driven me forward were bad. I had been working hard to get away from them! Why would I turn around and look at them!?
Why? Because I had to. Now this is where the horse and the cart come in. I don't know when, and I don't even know that it was a conscious thing even. But I guess I had convinced myself that when I got healthy enough, then I would turn around and look. And you know, process and deal with whatever emotional baggage was left to deal with. But that was a lie.
The lie was that I had to get healthy before looking back.
The truth is that in order to get healthy you need to take that moment and look back at the wreckage of bad decisions and forgive yourself, in order to get to that new healthy plateau. You can't get there, until you do this! You cannot truly overcome and change, unless you do this! I had believed I needed to put the horse before the cart. But when it comes to forgiveness you need to put the cart before the hose. You really do.
Now I'm sure you might be wondering.
Ok, but how do you do that? What does it look like?
Here's how it worked for me. I had to force myself to look back. Look back on all the miles I had traveled. And along those miles of personal growth there were those painful memories.
- Memories of when I had put myself before my family.
- Memories of when I had neglected my child.
- Memories of when I had lashed out in anger and hurt, not caring that the other person was hurting inside to.
- Memories of where I had failed to provide for my family.
- Memories of where I had made horrible mistakes and it cost me dearly.
- Memories of where I had been foolish with my money and put my families security at risk.
- Memories of where I had failed a friend.
- Memories of where I didn't have self control and really needed to have had it in those moments.
So many other memories of failures, mistakes, stupidity, foolishness, selfishness... As I traveled back over that wreckage I realized fully, emotionally, that I was carrying it all with me still. Yeah I had run from it in healthy growing ways but I was still carrying it. And somewhere along that movie reel of my wreckage I ran into... myself. My past self. The one who had made those decisions. The moron one, haha. My younger, selfish, foolish, stupid self who had created all that destruction in my past.
It's odd when you travel a great journey of personal growth and change. Because you get so distanced from the person that you used to be that you look back on them and they truly feel like they were a different person. But that's where it gets odd. I had to forgive myself, but it was weird. Because it was more like forgiving someone else than it was forgiving myself. The person I was is not the person I am today. I can't even relate to that person anymore.
It sounds weird, but you really have to say out loud "I forgive myself. I forgive you [insert_your_name_here]." And as I did that I realized I had to say goodbye to my old self. It was much like grieving and mourning the passing of someone you know. It was very distinctly as much forgiving as it was saying the last goodbye to someone. It felt a lot like "Keith, I forgive you. I forgive you for what you did to my life. My life looks like this today because of what you did. And that is not OK. But I forgive you... I don't ever want to see you again."
It was time to say goodbye, but the good and healthy goodbye.
So that leaves me with the question for you. Did your younger self make some big mistakes, have poor decisions that dramatically and negatively impacted your current life? Did you do something wrong with the law? Did you neglect your diet? Did you choose all the wrong relationships? Did you allow someone to hurt you? Did you squander the time you had with a friend or family member? Or was it something else?
Whatever it is that your younger self did that left a hole in your current life. Or left a path of wreckage behind you. Take a moment away from everything and everyone else. It's time to forgive yourself, time to say goodbye to that old version of you. So that you can leave that baggage on the side of the road and drive away. Free, lifted higher, a distinctly new person.
You can't walk into your future fully, dragging your old self with you. Besides, when you really think about it. Do you even want to carry your old self any longer?