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A Mind That Forgets The Bad

Always have eyes to see the best, a heart that forgives the worst, a mind that forgets the bad, and a soul that never loses hope.

~author unknown

Last week, we talked about a heart that God puts in us. A heart that is open and accepting. A heart that forgives the worst because it sees the best in itself and in others. Today, our focus is on a mind that forgets the bad, the bad experiences of the past and present.

One of the many things I like about mindfulness - an ancient meditative practice - is the invitation to be in the present, in the now. To not even contemplate the future, which isn’t guaranteed. Don’t worry about the past, either - you have no control over it. Don’t focus on the past, and don’t stress over it. Rather, be present in the now. Live in the present.

Indeed, while you meditate, your mind will wander from one thing to the other, one issue to the other, one worry to the other, but do not focus on those - be present in the now. To me, being present isn’t to have a mind that doesn’t necessarily wander; it is to have a mind that centers you in the present, helps you to be in touch with yourself, who you are, your purpose, what life means for you, the value of others, and your desire to see the best in yourself and those around you.

A truism of being present in the now - and not especially focusing on the past - is the fact that you cannot pray away the past, nor can you do anything about it. You cannot wish away the past, but you can learn important lessons from the past because you need a guidepost into the future.

However, you always have to be mindful of being held captive by a bad experience of the past.

There’s a story of Joseph and his brothers that I'm sure you have heard countless times. After being sold into slavery many years prior because his brothers thought it would be better to get rid of him than to kill him, Joseph sees his brothers. This time, he wasn’t the little brother they taunted and hated because of his dreams; this time, he was a Prime Minister. They didn’t recognize him because he was the dream they hated and thought they had gotten rid of. They didn’t recognize him because many years ago, they couldn’t see the best in him or in themselves.

But Joseph did recognize his brothers. He was so present with himself that he recognized them because his own dreams of himself had not only come to pass but were manifesting themselves in real time. The interesting thing about what happened was that, in spite of the fact that the past loomed large over him, he wasn’t trapped by the bad experiences of his past.

In fact, the past provided more than enough meaning for him, because within the moment of meeting his brothers, he pointed to the hand of God in his life. It has been the working of God all along, for it is God who makes all things possible.

It is God who determines our destiny.

It is God who charts the course of our lives.

Yes, your enemy isn’t God, and so cannot at any stage in your life shape what your life is going to be. They may throw wrenches in your way, but the final determinant is God. That is the point that Joseph made to his brothers when he finally revealed himself to them.

Remember this: Joseph could’ve done whatever he wanted to do with his brothers, and that would have been perfectly fine. But if your mind isn’t trapped by the past, if you are not trapped by your past experiences - the bad ones - you don’t feel obligated to exact revenge. You wouldn’t even feel the need to hold on to those bad experiences.

In St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he considers all his experiences - the good, the bad, and the ugly. He doesn’t talk about a rerun of the bad, thus giving himself the opportunity to remake the past. As valuable as the past may be, he simply looks forward to the day when he shall see his savior Jesus Christ face-to-face. Listen to Paul: “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Paul’s mind doesn’t feel trapped in any way.

I do not know the bad which you have endured or your bad experiences of the past. But as tempting as it may be to hold on, the invitation is to have a mind that compels you to forget the bad and frees you to look at yourself in a totally different way.

The reality is that a mind that forgets the bad isn’t only optimistic about the human story, but is compassionate towards the human condition. It expresses compassion for itself and others.

A mind that forgets that bad is not only in touch with itself but maintains a positive disposition because it sees the best in itself and others.



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