Let's be honest, how many of us have had problems with getting over an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend? I think that is an experience that a lot of us can share. If not, God bless you. You are an incredibly lucky person. It's rough though isn't it? The smallest things can remind you of them: TV shows or movies, certain restaurants, even smells or tastes. It is evidence of just how close two people can be intertwined; how deeply we can affect another human.
Sometimes I look at myself as being two separate people. It is childish I know, but I look at the good side of myself and the bad side. Almost an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other scenario. While I know that it is more complicated than that, it doesn't change the fact that it helps me to frame my thoughts. There is a part of me that wants to grow; to change; to fight new battles and see old ones conquered. This side of me is the good side. It longs for new places and people; longs to see God's plan come to fruition in my life. There is also the side of me that holds me back. The side that reminds me of my failures; that is comfortable in the past making the same mistakes. This is the bad side of me. It sees no value in change.
To jump back to the beginning for a moment, I sometimes wonder how deeply the halves of myself affect each other. It is so hard for me to let things in the past go. It is almost like breaking up with someone in a way. In order for me, or for anyone, to separate with the past (the bad side of us) we must lose a part of ourselves. It's hard. It's painful. Often it leads to losing people and things that are dear to us. I know and understand this well. So many times I've made efforts to change things about myself only to run back to them when I'm lonely or upset. It's human nature to find things that are comfortable and that we feel safe around. But there are times in life when you reach a place and you know that things have to change; when you understand that you are in a unhealthy pattern and you want to get out of it. These are the moments that feel like we are breaking up with ourselves. In a lot of ways, it is worse than breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. It changes everything about your life. You have to change the people that you hang out with, places you go, maybe even jobs. Or maybe it's not that severe for you, but you're ready to change habits or tendencies that you know are not healthy. I know how you feel. Anything and everything reminds you of your old ways. It is impossible to forget the past, but even separating from the past is incredibly difficult.
These moments define our lives. All too often we change momentarily, only to fall back later. I've done it time and time again; most of us have. This example has helped me to think more clearly about these moments. Imagine that you have a friend who is in an unhealthy dating relationship. She is dating a guy that is clearly no good for her. He is pushing to her to do things that are hurting her. She's pulling away from you and her other friends, even her family. The patterns that she is forming with him are hurting her life. Nothing hurts worse than seeing situations like these. You do everything that you can to reach out to your friend and let her know that she deserves better and that she could be happier and healthier without this relationship. Why is it so hard to see similar patterns within ourselves? It is a baffling question, but one that could prevent so much pain in our lives. What if we all pretended that we had two halves, a good side that wants to change and a bad side that does not (please...just humor my childish examples.) If we lay out all of the decisions that we make, and honestly examine the evidence that our lives create, I think we would be startled to see that the halves of ourselves are in a bitter gridlock. The trade win for loss, but in the end both cannot have a significant foothold in our lives.
Just like it's not easy to part with a significant other, it is equally as hard to part with habits and patterns in our lives, but it's necessary in order to grow. I don't want to seem like I think that I have it all together. I surely do not. There are things in my life that need to change. I just want to share how I'm thinking about change, and how I'm preparing my own life in this state. Know that you are not alone in this life journey. Never be afraid to let the past die. It doesn't deserve to have a hold on your life that slows you down from change. I know that we don't all believe the same here, and, as always, I respect that, but just know that I believe there is a God who sees us as we are, and loves to help us change. Don't be afraid.
Thanks for reading today. Connect with me on Twitter: @matthewhillec