Don't Let Your Past Determine Your Future
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."1
In his book, Confidence, Alan Loy McGinnis talks about a famous study entitled, "Cradles of Eminence" written by Victor and Mildred Goertzel, in which the family background of 300 highly successful people were studied.
Many of the people in the study were well-known personalities including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Winston Churchill, Albert Schweitzer, and Gandhi. And Einstein—all of whom were brilliant in their field of expertise.
The results of this study are both surprising and very encouraging for those of us who came from a less than desirable family background and home life. For example:
"Three-quarters of the children were troubled by poverty, a broken home, or by rejecting, over-possessive or dominating parents.
"Seventy-four of the 85 writers of fiction or drama and 10 of the 20 poets came from homes where they saw tense psychological drama played out by their parents.
"Physical handicaps, such as blindness, deafness, or crippled limbs characterized over one-quarter of the sample."
These people may have had more weaknesses and handicaps than many who had a healthy upbringing, but lacked confidence. What made the difference? Perhaps, realizing they had weaknesses, they compensated for these by excelling in other areas.
One man said, "What has influenced my life more than any other single thing has been my stammer. Had I not stammered, I probably would have gone to Cambridge as my brothers did, perhaps have become a tutor, and every now and then published a dreary book about French literature." This man who stammered until his death was W. Somerset Maughan, "a world-renowned author of more than 20 books, 30 plays, and scores of essays and short stories."
It's not what we have or don't have that matters in life, but what we do with what we have. God wants us to acknowledge past hurts and grow through them. In so doing, we don't allow our past to determine our future.
Someone has wisely said, "It may be true that I have been a victim in the past, but if I remain one, I am now a willing volunteer." No matter what our background was, when we trust our lives daily to God, and work through our past hurts to resolution, we can and do have hope for the future. It's up to us what we do about the present. Once we have resolved our past hurts, we can say, as did the Apostle Paul, "One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."2
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to realize, as an adult, that while I wasn't responsible for my background, I am totally responsible for what I do about resolving all past hurts and for becoming, with your help, the person you have envisioned for me to be. Lead me always on the pathway of truth and responsibility. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV).
2. Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV).