Someone asked me recently, "What is the most impactful thing that has ever happened in your life. What event had the greatest impact on who you would become?"
I sat and opened up the different cupboards of memories, thinking through the dust-ridden events that had occurred and carefully examining their implications on the most current version of me, myself, and I.
One event was truly the demarcation line for my life. This defined who I would be and set me on a path of growth and change that none would have ever imagined and truly set the course on the North star that was my destiny.
It was my father's terminal illness. No, there is no happy ending to that part of the story, but it truly did shape my reality. I had two options to consider.
I could allow my situation to drag me down into the abyss of despair. It could have drowned me in sorrow and been a cruel despot dictating my every decision. This path is too commonly traveled. People give up. They stop trying to be better and surrender to the despair poured out upon them.
The other option is to sprint at health. To sprint at a hope that cannot currently be grasped, but can indeed be seen. I chose to seek out the wisdom of the ages to answer my difficult question of whether life was worth living. People, books, philosophers, religion. I sought out learning to become better.
We always have a choice.
Everything that had happened to me as I struggled became a tool in my mind to help others. I thought to myself that surely people struggle with the same difficult questions that I do and could use the answers that I had found. It gave me a purpose. I found meaning.
Everyone goes through difficult things. We all have an option. We can either choose to see life through a redemptive lens or not.
To live a meaningful life we must view everything that has happened to us redemptively.
The past can become one of our greatest weapons against apathy and the mundane. Every experience you have can be used as kerosene to light the fire of compassion and purpose in you.
Bitterness or regret always begins as a gentle friend speaking sweet nothings into our ears and reminding us of how painful our past can be. It can speak through the lens of loyalty or justice reminding us that we must never forget the past and hold on to the brokenness that it brought us.
What if we can embrace our old friend Past. Instead of being one that brings about pain and regret, what if he becomes a reminder of change and growth? What if we opportunistically take the memories and seek out where our current redemption can be found in them?
Regret and Pain do not control the market on the economy of our past. Every memory is ours to decide upon and to give meaning to.
You are the only one in control of the narrative of life. Take hold. Don't let your experiences control you. Take initiative in redefining meaning in your life.