Originally Posted by Mike Young October 2006
Guys, have you ever seen one of those movie scenes where some one or some group is going to make a trip and they take everything with them? In the pioneer movies, they pack the wagons full of precious things that they just have to take with them but along the way, as the journey gets tough, they decide they need to get rid of some weight so they start leaving things behind.
You know we can all identify with this idea on an emotional level… we all have things from our pasts that we keep with us. I’m not talking about material things; I’m talking about memories, habits and behaviors. There are some things that we keep with us and we aren’t really sure why, but sooner or later, as the journey gets tougher we realize, we can’t keep toting all this junk.
The tough part is that unloading the emotional baggage of our pasts isn’t as easy as unloading a wagon and leaving the family piano beside the trail.
It takes some real toughness to decide to leave an anger problem, a tendency toward violence, a sarcastic tone of voice or an addiction problem behind. And sometimes the toughest part is coming to grips with the fact that these family heirlooms are weighing us down. Guys, let me remind you that you won’t win life’s race if you carry a load of junk everywhere you go…
Remember Paul’s words, throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…
At some point in our lives, if we’re going to become the men God wants us to be, we have to sift through our stories and take a look at the factors, good and bad, that made us who we are. Many factors in our lives were beyond our control. We live in a society that exists at a particular time in history. We can’t do much to change that. Nor can we change the family of our birth or how God made us. But, because we can’t change something, doesn’t mean we are powerless.
I’ve often been reminded of the fact that I can’t always choose my circumstances, but I can and must choose my reaction to them.
Many men would never admit it but much of how they live and what they choose for themselves is part of an ongoing attempt to change their personal history. It simply can’t be done. We must move forward making sure that we take advantage of the lessons of our pasts but never being victimized by them.
Paul, again sets a great example for us when he says that he asked to have his ‘thorn in the flesh removed’, Christ responded with “My grace is sufficient for you”.
Men, we all need to accept who we are and where we came from. We must also accept the fact that we have all made mistakes in the past. The consequences of those mistakes may linger, but we can’t wander through life full of resentment, self pity, or anger about anything that we can’t control.
Train yourself to learn as much as you can about your past and use those lessons to chart a course for a stronger future.
So, stop making excuses for who you are, how you were made, what you aren’t good at, the embarrassing things about your life, your family or your mistakes and move forward. A man can’t lead his family if he’s constantly looking backwards and making excuses. Dwell on the assets that you have gained from family, life experiences and other opportunities and use those assets to invest in a stronger future.
Now, one final thought, it’s difficult, if not impossible, for a man to deal with these concepts alone.
We each need to have a few men who will help us unload our collection of heavy family heirlooms and accumulated junk from our wagons so we can travel the trail more efficiently.
Find those men and challenge each other to leave addictions, anger, frustrations, pornography, disappointments, violence, discouragement and the like behind. You’ll enjoy the journey much more, and so will your traveling companions.