“Don’t dwell on went wrong. Instead focus on what to do next.” – Denis Waitley
Yesterday I was in the garage cleaning and came across something that took me back about 10 years. It’s funny how “things” have significance and how they can trigger thoughts and memories. Some memories that remind you of a fun or pleasant time, and others that can take you down a dark road.
So years ago when I was newly divorced from my first wife, I moved back into the house we had together, almost a year later. I remember feeling guilty most of the time with thoughts about how our divorce was going to destroy our children. It’s a common thought from divorcees I suppose, but I could never seem to shake it.
I remember asking my son (who was about 10 at the time) what he wanted for his birthday that year. For me it was a guilt gift. Something he didn’t need, claimed he wanted and was way to expensive, but I bought it anyway. A gift that sat in my garage for almost 10 years, rarely touched unless being relocated to another section of the garage. But somehow it brought me comfort. Like I was doing something noble, that would remove or at least ease my feelings of shame.
Well off course that didn’t work, but I was still out of $300 for something that is now equivalent to a large paper weight, taking up unnecessary space in my garage. As I reflect on that time of my life, it was not a good season. I had so many consuming negative thoughts that plagued my decisions and forethought on a daily basis. It was something I could not prepare for.
The divorce was hard enough, but the change of my family routine, like seeing my kids at night, every day was not something that I could anticipate or prepare for. It brought me to an all time low. It was one of the worst feelings I can remember about the whole process. Something that I would not wish on my worst enemy, but like anything difficult, you persevere and get through it, if you don’t give up.
My decision to buy my young son a motorized mini bike that he would have most likely hurt himself on, was certainly a poor choice on my part, but back then I just wanted him and my two daughters to be okay. What I have learned over the years is, our children need our time way more than they need things, but when that time has abruptly changed, we will find anyway to keep the peace, make amends or simply feel better.
I am grateful that my relationship with my children is not only intact, but thriving. And after moving that mini bike several times over the years, I finally moved it outside to get rid of it last night. It had it’s place and served as a reminder of what I use to hold on to, but today thankfully I am not driven by guilt any more. I am driven by the purpose of simply being a good father to my children, and I am blessed to witness the fruits of that daily.
Purchasing the mini bike represented a dark chapter in my life, and now finally moving it out represents something greater. And that is, life does move on, doing the right things do matter, and guilt, when faced with integrity and honesty cannot continue to torment our soul.
So whatever guilty thing is holding you back, release it, live your life with integrity and face towards the future. Yesterday cannot be changed, but what you do next can.