Confession is a blessing. Especially when you happen to go to a church you never been to, in a far away land, to a stranger priest you’ll never see again, and he ends up giving the best advice you’ve gotten in years. He was also from a foreign country, which was good because it gave me a real wake up call to how seriously we take ourselves in our first world country. In other countries people are worried about the next meal, or persecution.
I was confessing my struggle with forgiveness. He asked me what I was trying to forgive, “Wounds from the past.” His response, “But they are in the past? Why are you still thinking about them?” He then proceeded to give me a wake up call from the present moment and the possible future.
Yes, the past happened and wounded you but it could also have been instrumental in how you became the person you are today. More to the point, he said, “You are a young person in the prime of life, why aren’t you thinking of the future?”
He gave me a verbal slap on the wrist for wallowing. It might have seemed more vehement with his accent than he actually intended, but I needed the reprimand. Part of the trap of this life, especially in singlehood, is the temptation to waste time distracting ourselves i.e. Netflix (guilty). Another trap I had fallen into is spending time tracing the roots from different events in my past that made me into who I am. True it’s good to know how you got different habits, or who you got them from, but only insofar as it is helpful in acting to avoid the same mistakes. The future is what I should be thinking of, not how much damage I have sustained from the past.
Wallowing is actually not an easy habit to break. But wounds from the past are actually just that: wounds that hopefully have healed over because they are from a while ago and should be tough scar tissue by now. Real wounds are like that as well. Sorry if this gets a little graphic. If you keep itching and scratching a wound it will never heal properly. Leave it alone! More importantly if you keep picking at it and reopening it to explore how deep it goes it will just get infected and then you’ll be really sick. It’s true some serious and deep wounds don’t heal properly and you have to open it up and clean out underlying infection. But that should be done by a professional, best not done alone. After that, take measures to prevent the infection from spreading.
Medicine. It comes in different forms for different people. Some people need counseling, some people need a lifestyle change, or a location change. That’s not all you need. Nourishment. We cannot heal properly if we are not eating the proper nutrients necessary for reconstruction. What are we consuming on a daily basis? Is it helping the healing process? Some of us may need a lot of extra fuel to heal, spiritual reading, spiritual talks, silence and prayer. Perhaps even a retreat or a regular spiritual adviser.
The present and future should be my only concern. They are the only things I can change. I can make decisions now that impact the rest of my life. I cannot in any way change the past. Don’t be like Pumba, get your behind out of the past!
No matter how many times we look back, we are only heading in one direction. Forward. Time is funny like that. So it’s best we keep our eyes up ahead. You don’t want to miss anything, and you should probably look where you are going.
My penance was to pray for the person who wounded me. To hold the person in my hand and offer him to God. He also told me to seek a spiritual adviser if I needed more help overcoming these wounds. He told me to hold on to the Person Who will not disappoint, Who will always act out of love. Hold on to Jesus. Don’t let go.