I am sure that you have asked yourself that at some point. What if I had gone right instead of left? What if I had gone here instead of there? What if I had never met that person or if I had met this person instead? Many times we ask these things because we are not happy with where we are. Sometimes we are happy with the place we are at, but we like to think about where we could be. How different things could be if we just made a different choice here or here. We like to think that things would be better if we are not satisfied with where we are at now.

The thing is, we are the sum of all those good or bad things that have happened in our past. Who we are today comes from our choices and our memories. They have a huge bearing on who we are right now. The way we think comes from what we have been taught or learned. Yes we all have regrets. We all have those few things that we would like to change. In the smallest ways or in the biggest ways. But those changes could very well have a greater impact than we realize.

There have been many stories and movies that touch upon the “what if……” scenarios. The Butterfly Effect franchise, the Ray Bradbury story “The Sound of Thunder” and many others. But from watching these movies or reading the stories we see that changing one small thing can make big changes later. Sometimes it can be fun to think of how things can be different. But as we all know, we can’t change the things of the past. But, we do have control of what our future can look like.

Yes, yes. I know that we don’t know what the future holds. But why should we allow our past keep us from making an impact in what our future looks like. We do not have to let the past control where we go. You may know what I am talking about. We get so close to success, we quit. It seems like we get in a perpetual cycle where it looks like we don’t like success. To be fair, many of us don’t get in these type of ruts. But all to often many of us allow our past to control what we do.

Now this is ok, if we learn from those things that don’t work. Gordon Ramsey wouldn’t be the success he is if he had been successful the first time he tried to open a restaurant. By having a few “failures” he was able to figure out what does not work and find what would work. We need to realize that just because one thing doesn’t work doesn’t mean we won’t find anything that will work. Thomas Edison “failed” over 2,000 times before getting the right filament for the light bulb.

What we need to do is use our past as a way of saying, “This will not work. Is there something that will work?” Then try something different. We need to learn from those times that we were not successful and try different things. We should not allow our past’s to hold us back. All too often we beat ourselves up. We allow our past to keep us down. Ephesians 4:22-23 tells us to forget our past when it relates to who we were. ” You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds.”

Yes this is talking about the “S” word, sin. But it can also be applied to the person we were in our past. We are no longer that person that made that mistake. We have learned some things from that time. We need to use our past to show us that, yes, we made mistakes, but we can make different choices to have a better future. In the book “Soul Print” by Mark Batterson, God uses the bad things in our lives as well as the good to make His print in our lives. That print is what makes us unique. It is this uniqueness that is a gift that God has given to us. It is God’s thumbprint in our souls or soul print.

We have to be willing to learn from our mistakes. In fact, we learn more from the mistakes than we do from our successes. When we fail to make the right choice we are forced to look for another solution. A different way to do things. Mistakes were never meant to be used as excuses to not go forward. In the classic Doctor Who, the doctor was talking to Romana in the City of Death. He said that in order to know where we are going, we have to know where we have been. We can learn from our past. We can’t learn from our future. We can embrace all that is in our past and use that to shape where we are going. We can take control of the lessons learn and not let the lessons control us. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The mistakes can give us a greater opportunity for learning.

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