“Repeat after me,” I said to my counseling client, “The future is my friend.” He looked at me with a furrowed brow and head cocked slightly to the right. “I’m serious. Repeat after me. The future is my friend.” The skepticism in his expression remained, but he complied with a less than enthusiastic tone. “I want you to recite this phrase at least twice a day for the next week or so.” This was not a typical counseling intervention, but with this client at this point in time, I thought it necessary.
It is often difficult to see past our current circumstances. Past experiences, hurts and failures can contribute to or directly cause the troubles and struggles we now face. We could be struggling with the consequence of another person’s behavior – as did the patriarch Joseph when his brothers sold him to a band of Ishmaelites headed for Egypt (Genesis 37:28) Or reaping the harvest of our own poor choices — “as a man sows, this he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
The fact that choices have consequences was originally determined by the God of creation, not the theories of behavioral science. God told Adam “you must not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) Most of us are familiar with the story, Adam and his wife both ate of the tree, and both suffered consequences. Later in history, the Apostle Paul would be inspired to write to the Romans, saying “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)
Many are simply not happy in their current circumstances, and feel powerless to change. Complacency can set in, and the hope of a better circumstance fades. It is easy to simply accept that this is the way things are going to be. While it is important that we take time to reflect upon, and understand the effect of past behaviors to avoid repeating them, it is essential not to dwell on them. It is tempting to become stagnant, and at times seemingly more desirable to wallow in self-pity, or cast blame, rather than face the challenge of change.
Change requires growth. Growth is not easy, and it is seldom pain free. It is needful and desirable nonetheless. Bad habits and poor choices take time and effort to overcome, and can be difficult even with the help and support of others.
To say, “The future is my friend,” is to celebrate the opportunity for change each new day brings, and the prospect of demonstrating those changes. While no one can change anything about his or her past, each can – with God’s help, along with Godly counsel and support – embrace the opportunity each day to make changes to affect our growth going forward. Will we always succeed? No, but there will be another opportunity tomorrow.
Several years ago, I read a book on dieting and healthy living. While I am sure it was full of useful information, I honestly only remember one quite profound statement. It said, “Don’t worry about your most recent meal. Instead, worry about your next.”
In the words of former Baptist pastor, John Claypool, “The God of the Bible is always to be found on the side of hope, trying to fan whatever flicker of promise He can toward a new future. This One is forever meeting us as He met Abraham of old – with a vision of a better tomorrow. Can we call ourselves followers of such a One and do anything else?” (Claypool, John. Glad Reunion. New Orleans: Insight Press, 2000.)
So, repeat after me, “the future is my friend.”
(Photo credit by the author – Bicycle trail near Rita Road, Tucson)
© 2017 by Roger E. Daniels