Since I can remember I have always loved thinking about the future. When I was a kid I watched the Jetsons. In elementary school, it was Back to the Future. (Let's be honest, we are all still watching Back to the Future.) As I grew older it was other sci-fi movies that kept my mind glued in thinking about what is to come.
Well, congratulations - you made it to the future. We're here...and I'm still waiting for my flying car.
The future is amazing. There is nothing wrong with having our minds fixed towards it. It's important in planning. (Proverbs 21:5)
Here is where you and I get stuck, though: Our minds can get so future focused we lose track of what is happening right now.
There is a tension we need to begin living in. For us to become better lovers, listeners and leaders we need to find the tension, set it and then choose, hell or high water, to live in it. This is the life God is calling us to.
So, where is the tension?
The tension is found by going back into your story - moving backward. It going to your past and recalling how you have become the man you are now. It is digging into the story of your past. When you can learn to practice going back, it will change who you are now and help you to plan for the man you want to become in the future.
Here is what you will learn when you learn to dive back into your story, and history:
1. Engaging your story will inform the way you shape your present.
Men don't like to think about our lives and story in the past. Why? Because we are afraid of what we'll find there. Men are notorious for avoiding our childhood, teen years and even events happening only a short time ago.
Men avoid the past because we are afraid of what we'll find there: hurt, trauma, brokenness and defeat. We don't have time for pain, so we'll just move on.
Avoiding your past is a mistake. Your past is a villain ready to be slain. Unless you turn around and deal with it once and for all, it is going to keep coming back.
The terrible pain of your past will destroy you if given the chance. This is exactly what the enemy wants to do - destroy you.
So, how do you avoid destruction? Don't let your past rear its ugly head. Take control of it now. Go there and process it with people you trust.
When we can learn to enter this practice of going back into our past, it will help inform the men we are today. In fact, even today, you will see a dramatic shift in the man you are becoming. People will take notice, I promise.
2. Engaging your story will provide leadership for your friends and family to do the same.
Several months ago, I attended a conference that has gone on to change my life forever. It has become a destiny marker in my life - a place in my story where God showed up in a radical way to do a mighty work in my heart.
At this conference, I learned the power of my story and everything coming with it - including the past. I learned how to work through it.
But the work didn't stop there. As these last several months have unfolded I have begun inviting others into the process. I wanted to provide leadership in helping them to learn what I learned.
As a man, when you decide to engage your story and unpack the volumes of your life I can promise you - people will take notice and follow you as a leader. They just will. They will discover qualities you may have never thought you had.
You will become a better husband, father, co-worker, leader and most of all, Follower of Christ. People will see Jesus in you like never before. All because you decided to go back, engage your life and story and get the healing you needed. You will be the hero.
3. Engaging your story will inform the relationships you form now.
We have a tendency, as men, to hold our relationships at arm's length. We won't let others close until they let us close. This is a terrible way to live. Trust me, I lived it for years. Do not continue to live this way.
When you begin to unearth all that has happened throughout your life it is going to help you to step into the brokenness of others.
Vulnerability begets vulnerability. When you go there first, others will follow. You will be forming God-honoring relationships along the way.
I know what you may be thinking at this point: This stuff sounds mushy and emotional. You're right, it is. But you are an emotional being. Somewhere along the way you were convinced otherwise. Don't buy the lie any longer. Become the man God created you to be.
4. Your future legacy cannot be addressed until you go to your past.
Remember all the stuff about future earlier? Of course, you do - men love the future. Men love legacy. They want to leave their mark on this world. I get it - I do too.
Here's the thing: until you address your past, your future legacy cannot be written. In fact, I would go as far to say that it won't be written - not like you would want it to be.
There will be pieces missing from your future when you avoid your past.
We need to stop thinking of our lives as a linear timeline moving in one direction. Your life is a circle in which everything is on the table, ready to be explored and used by God at any time. When we can learn to picture our lives this way, God ready to do whatever he needs to do to make us into the men he wants to make.
This is the kind of life God wants for you. I want this life for you, too.
If you want to be a better lover than you must first learn to love and engage your story.
If you want to be a better listener, you must first listen to what your story has said.
If you want to be a better leader you must know where you have been before you know where you’re going...and where you can take others.
Your life and story have volumes written about it. Go there and God will do an incredible work.
Call to Action
When was the last time you sat down with a trusted individual about your past and unpacked it? Find someone this week and begin having those conversations. You'll be surprised at what you find.
Interested more in this incredible life God has for you? Download my free eBook Your Story Matters and begin this intentional journey, today.
Ben Weaver loves helping young men excel at relationships. He writes regularly on his blog A Journey Worth Taking.