I always pick on Billy Graham…

so this time, I grab advice from a different source – Leon Fontaine at the Winnipeg Sun.

Do you get your identity from the past or the future?

When you think about who you are, do you define yourself by where you came from, your heritage, or your background? Do your habits, hang-ups and hurts also define who you are?

Most of us gravitate to the past for our identity. Unfortunately, when we look backward to gain a sense of who we are, it makes becoming a new person in the future almost impossible. Simply put, when you hang on to your old self, it’s hard to get rid of old problems. If you struggle with addictions, hang-ups, destructive attitudes or emotions, it’s likely these past problems will be a recurring theme in your future unless you redefine yourself.

Let’s keep in mind that until someone comes back from the future dragging enough time machine belts into this world for the rest of us to play with, we’ll have to face the future like everyone else – unknowing.

Our identity is shaped by our past, yes. It’s shaped by our parents and our heritage and our experiences. My question to Leon would be, why is an assumption being made that a person has to be a new person in the future? Why is there an assumption that there is something wrong with the present person? Why is there an assumption that the only memories a person has are bad ones? That the only habits are the wrong ones? That the only emotions or attitudes available are the least desirable ones? Turns out it’s so that he can answer me this way:

The Bible teaches us that we are to live as new people after giving our lives to Christ. When you enter into a relationship with Him, your old sins are washed away and your destructive habits become part of your past. You are to move forward into a new life as a new person.

Life is full of mistakes. It’s really the one thing we can count on when we get up in the morning. Hardly the feel-good quote of the day, but hey. It’s true. How we get through them and deal with them is how we determine what kind of people we are, and what kind of people we want to be. That is how our future is determined.

I think it’s important that we own up to our mistakes. I don’t think it happens often enough. Part of it likely has to do with a lack of authority figures willing to do that. Part of it likely has to do with a desire to blame other agencies rather than admit the failure began with us. And a big part of the problem, to my mind, comes from people like Leon Fontaine who preach to us that all we have to do is give ourselves to Jesus and all will be forgiven.

I don’t think old “sins” should be washed away. This conjures up the idea that they can be flushed down the toilet like pieces of shit that don’t matter beyond that moment of brief discomfort. I don’t think they should be hung onto like that ratty pair of lucky underwear you’ve worn inside out and backwards since the last time your team won a tournament, but it’s just as wrong to cast them away like they don’t matter a whit. Of course they matter.

Every experience shapes us and shapes those around us and it’s entirely worth it to remember what we did wrong. I don’t mean dwell on it for all of eternity until the should’ves and what if’s collapse in on us like a dying star. I mean we should at least be willing to acknowledge what happened and be willing to do whatever needs doing to move past what happened, and make amends to anyone who was harmed by what happened.

A new life that is free of the problems of the past –whether it’s with relationships, addictions, attitudes or emotions – begins when you establish your new identity in Christ. Read the Bible and discover how much God loves you. Learn about the life He wants for you. It is in developing this relationship and learning about Him that you’ll be given the power to live a new life that is on a higher level than ever before.

There is no reset button. You don’t really get to restart your life just because you know Jesus now. You just start another part of it. Everything you did and said still happened to you, and to the people involved. While it’s fun to claim Christ has forgiven every bit of whatever got done, can the same magnanimous claim be said for the person who got hurt? That person has to deal with whatever the hell it is you did, too. Maybe you’re content to let Jesus deal with it, but someone else might have to live with it.

What you give attention to will grow in your mind. When you give constant attention to your old self by examining the weaknesses of your character, it causes you to experience your past again. That’s not to say that you can never reexamine your past, but make a decision at some point to let it go and begin living your new life. Instead of focusing on your shortcomings, focus on the power you have to change through God.

I’d come across an interesting article recently that was going to become a drafty post but it’ll fit here nicely. Research suggests that who we are as adults is a direct result of who we were when we were six. If we were fun loving kids, we’re fun adults. If we were bullies then, we bully now. If we were nice then, we’re the same now. So essentially, the only way to change your adult self would be to go back in time and change the child. And since we can’t go into the past any more than we can fly a car into the future, we’ll have to live with the realization that our personalities seem set in stone far earlier than once assumed.

And what change may be possible won’t be something we can do with the flip of a switch or sudden “Jesus Loves Me!” born again conversion. It does require changing beliefs, but it wouldn’t be necessary for everyone to follow through on the advice Fontaine lauds in order to improve one’s outlook on life.

Believe that God can heal any broken heart, overcome any addiction, walk away from old hang-ups and begin living a new life. Even if you’ve tried in the past and failed, you have the power of Christ helping you become a new person. Let today be the start of your new life

I’m sure Rhonda Byrne preached much the same for The Secret and The Power too.

About 1minionsopinion

Canadian Atheist Basically ordinary Library employee Avid book lover Ditto for movies Wanna-be writer Procrastinator
This entry was posted in Advice Avenue, atheism and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.