"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended : but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14
Forgetting the past is something I struggle with often. The nagging memory of past mistakes, foolish decisions, blunders, hateful remarks, evil thoughts (Everyone has them, just admit it!), the fearful worrying of circumstances, and anxiety that gnaws on the conscience due to the feared opinions of men (mankind), and the list goes on... Paul also said:
"Not as though I had already attained , either were already perfect : but I follow after , if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12
Paul realizes his imperfection, and strives for a better way, but he is realistic enough to know that he cannot be a slave to his past, nor be paralyzed by indecision due to a fear of failure. The fear of future failures is also something that plagued me for many years, and contributed to far more failures than if I had just not worried about it. Marcus Aurelius who was a Stoic Philosopher said the following:
"Thy present opinion founded on understanding, and thy present conduct directed to social good, and thy present disposition of contentment with everything which happens—that is enough." Meditations 9.6
There are three things laid out here that we need to understand to have an effective outlook.
- Control your thought life.
- Manage your actions wisely and righteously.
- Accept those things that are outside of your control, which is a large amount.
One's perceptions of life and circumstances is the control center of how we live our lives. If you have "stinking thinking" then there is no doubt that whatever comes out of that will plague and disease your existence. If you are suspicious of your wife's manner, think that others don't like you or think well of you, fear the thoughts and opinions of others, fear failure, fear the past decisions, fear the future decisions, and so forth and so on, you will live in a miserable existence. Everything begins in the mind of man. What are you feeding your mind? How do you process information? Do you realize that you can change your thinking habits? You can.
Once you have organized your thoughts into a realistic and positive way, you can then choose wisely. However, if you don't then you will just have to accept the things that are outside of your control. This includes the past, the future, politics, the opinions of others, the preferences and decisions of others whether wise or foolish, that obstacle, which is in your way. You cannot change most of what is around you, but you can change your thoughts and responses to these things. You have to accept the current way things are in your life. However, if you want to exact any positive change, begin to think well, act well, and accept what you cannot change. As a Christian, we pray about those things that are out of our control, because while we cannot change those things, we have a God who can, given the decision is within His will. Keep this simple, love God, love people, love God's written revelation, love good wisdom, and practice these things.