I have always been intrigued by the concept presented in the account of Scrooge, where he was given the opportunity to spend time viewing his past, present and future. I have often had a fleeting desire to go back in time, and correct some perceived mistakes made in my younger (and more stupid) period of life. But, like Scrooge, all I can do is look at and think about - but not change my past.
Greek mythology speaks of the three fates; sisters who spin people's life threads, weave them into a tapestry, and finally cut the thread of life at the time of death. What would happen to my life tapestry if I were able to change just one thing from my past? For it is my past which makes up my present - and present acts and decisions lead me to my future. What relationships, events or life lessons would I unravel and destroy in a clumsy attempt to re-weave my past?
I am grateful to have the gift and ability to repent of past mistakes - and grateful that it is not possible to change the past. If it were possible, I'm certain given my "creative skills", my life tapestry would turn out even worse than I perceive it is now!
The past is to be learned from - but we should not desire to live there. I can look back and claim the lessons learned through experience and trial - and bring the best ones with me to the present. This then gives a foundation on which to stand while looking forward with faith and hope to the future.
Faith is confidence or trust that is always pointed to the future - and hope is an expectation of things to come. I need to have both faith and hope in myself, looking beyond my own weaknesses and fears, reaching for promises I have been given.
It is because of fear, and a wish to protect my weaknesses (real or imagined) that I have on occasion thought of a return to a time that cannot be lived in again. Or being dissatisfied with present circumstances, have a desire to jump past the pain of the here and now into the future with thoughts of... "when this happens", or "things will be better after".
When my expectations of the future do not happen according to my thoughts, plans, and timetable - that is when I most need to step back and place my life and faith in the hands of God; to allow His plans and timetable to happen. I recognize a need to continually set aside the destructive thoughts (easier said than done) - for it is not about where I have been, it is where I am now, and how decisions made in the present will take me where I am desirous to go.
The Prophet, Thomas S. Monson (current president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has given us a "guide to your eternal happiness" - comprised of three simple steps...
- Learn from the past [your own past, and that of others].
- Prepare for the future... remember the promise of the Lord: "If ye are prepared ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30). Fear is a deadly enemy of progress.
- Live in the present. Sometimes we let our thoughts of tomorrow take up too much of today. Daydreaming of the past and longing for the future may provide comfort but will not take the place of living in the present. This is the day of our opportunity, and we must grasp it.
("In Search of Treasure," Ensign, May 2003)