Monday, December 10, 2012

A Perspective on the Past

Growing up, I knew nothing about military life or what being a service member entailed other than fighting in wars. I had heard stories from my grandfather about his duty in WWII and I knew that my uncle had died fighting in Vietnam. Beyond that, I was clueless. The idea of dating or even marrying a military man never entered my mind. I was used to being a small-town girl who lived in the same area all her life and assumed that these circumstances would never change. 

That was my life for nearly twenty-one years. Even when I went to college, I was only thirty minutes away from home and would visit often. I began entertaining the idea of venturing out of Ohio to attend graduate school, but I planned on settling back near my family after I had sewn my wild oats. But in one quick swoop, something unexpected happened that changed everything. In the middle of my junior year of college, I met the man who is now my husband.
Since becoming a military wife, I have often grieved the loss of my past. So much is different from all that I knew during my first twenty-one years. Life had been so consistent, so easy, and so expected. Now, those things are gone and I get stuck sometimes wishing that I could bring them back. I find myself weighing on the way things used to be rather than accepting and appreciating the way my life has evolved. By spending so much time longing for my past, I surely have allowed the way things were to get in the way of how they are to be.
I have read many quotes which encourage people to forget about the past and instead focus on the future. In the book The Noticer, by Andy Andrews, there is a quote which reads, “It’s time to stop letting your history control your destiny.” Though I agree with these words of advice to an extent, I also believe that our pasts are essential in helping to shape the people we are today.
For me, my past is where I developed my values and moral beliefs. My experiences are what helped to create the positive voice inside of me that pushes me to find the good in life. The time I spent with family growing up has influenced the way I teach my kids about the importance of being together. Somewhere along the way, though I never knew I would need it, I developed the skills and the faith I would need to persevere as a military wife.  I may have grown up in a lifestyle which was consistent and easy, but the lack of challenges back then allowed me to view life with a positive enthusiasm which has allowed me to overcome the difficulties of military life.
Our pasts are the foundations on which we continue to build character and a reference point when we find ourselves astray. It is true that allowing the past to overpower our ability to make wise choices can lead to setbacks on the road of life, but so can denying ourselves the opportunity to use the past as a way to influence our futures in a positive way. Our memories, good or bad, are a guiding force for the people we are today. We can choose to forget them entirely, or we can choose to see them as learning experiences which can, in the present, help us to improve our selves. 
Today, when I find myself missing my past, I remember that all of those great times were in preparation for where I am now. I consider how grateful I am for the life I had, but I also smile with thankfulness for where it has brought me. The life I have now may be very different from what it used to be, but I cannot deny that it is just as wonderful a life to be living. And when I gather my thoughts and remind myself of these things, I realize that I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.


1 comment:

  1. Hi there Lisa- new reader here from the Monday meet up. I look forward to reading more here. I really LOVE the last paragraph of this post, and I couldn't agree with you more. Our past is a huge part of our present but doesn't have to change the gift of gratitude that we can have when we find contentment in the here and now.