Wednesday, July 06, 2011

You Don't Define Me

To my past:

You and I have been through a lot together. Some things have been wonderful…graduations, friendships, dreams come true. And then other things. Well, to be honest, I kind of wish I could forget them. Deaths, dangerous relationships, and dreams flushed down the toilet.

I used to depend on the good things to make my life. When things were going well, life was great. And I let those things define me and make me who I was. It's easy to do that, you know. Every article I published in a magazine or every A I earned in school became another brick in the wall of my life. With every relationship or homework assignment, I felt better and better about myself. The more awesome things that happened to me, the more I felt like I could accomplish. It was like everything great in life lifted me higher and higher. When people would ask me about my life, I talked about the things I had done to get me to where I wanted to be in life. Things like, "I graduated with a great degree from a good school because I worked hard and I studied hard." Or like, "I've worked hard to get fit. Of course that super-hot guy asked me out." It was like some sort of chain reaction: the harder I worked, the better things could be.

But then, of course, there are the more difficult things you and I have shared, past. I kind of had hoped you'd be kinder to me than most. But that's a silly thing to hope for. I mean, I'm not any different than anyone else. But still, it was a low blow when I slipped into depression after that one relationship ended. And the time I kissed that guy and I didn't even like him? Yeah, that's something I'd kind of like to forget, too. And when I lost one of my dearest friends to death, I really thought I would never be able to live like normal again. That latest rejection letter? It hurt. Like it or not, those hard things have been more building blocks of my life, too. There are times when I've tried to forget those things ever happened. Kind of like if I pretended they never existed, they'd never have an effect on my decisions today, now. That's kind of silly to pretend, though. No matter what I do, you're always going to be there.

I guess it's my choice as to how you affect me, though. And that's why I'm writing you this letter. I can't depend on you to make me the best I can be. (That's God's job…) I can't "break up" with you. You are my past, after all. But I am not made up of the good things, or the bad things, I've done before this moment. I am not made up of "good enough" or "not good enough".

It's true that you'll always be a part of my life as my past. But I can learn from you. I can grow from you. Instead of re-living the glory days of how things used to be (to the point where I can't function now), I can trust that God has even more wonderful things in store for me. Instead of letting my past sins grab me in a choke hold, I can remember the redemptive love of Christ. And when I'm stuck between right and wrong in the future, I can think back to my past mistakes and make the right choice. Instead of allowing myself to sink under the pain of loss and becoming a bitter person with a heart of stone, I can choose a better life. I can choose the better things the Lord has placed in front of me.

See, past, you don't define me. I'll never get rid of you. And I guess I wouldn't want to get rid of you. You've taught me a lot over my lifetime, anyways. You don't define me, but you are a part of me. And I'm going to do my best to learn from you and to work with you…but not be consumed by you. After all, God's got a lot in store for me. He's got so much in store for me, in fact, that I can't spend a whole lot of time worrying about you. So thanks for being there. But don't expect me to visit much…

Ashley Mays is the former Editorial Assistant for Brio and Brio & Beyond magazines and currently writes her own fiction for teens. She enjoys rock climbing, people watching in airports, and expanding her shoe collection. Ashley lives with her husband in Colorado. No, they don't ski. Learn more about Ashley on facebook or on her website:


Kaitlyn said...

thank you for being real and opening up. :-)

eve said...

hey wonderful post,and i really liked the subject