Last night stirred up some old memories from my past. Fifteen years old doesn’t seem quite old enough to have a “past,” but trust me, I have a lot of old memories.
I did gymnastics for eight whole years. They say I was good, but that’s not why I did it. I did it because I loved gymnastics, and it was pretty much synonymous with my own name.
But I’ve changed so much since I was eleven.
I had my life all planned out. We’d work hard, my best friend and I would, and go to the Olympics. If that didn’t work out, we would go to college for gymnastics, and become coaches. If not coaches, then judges. And that was that. That was all I knew, and that was where God had me and my priorities at the time.
And then I stopped.
Last night, as I was getting ready to go to said best friend’s competition, I stared at myself in the mirror, comparing my image with the one of baby-faced me in a red and white leotard. And the thought came to me – so much has changed.
But I can think that thought without regrets. Sure, I wish I still had a six-pack, and could do countless push-ups and sit-ups, have backflips at my disposal, and be able to climb a thirty-foot rope without using my legs. (Seriously.) But I don’t regret where I am today.
I have a blog with all of you lovely, vibrant readers, where I can share the amazing things God has taught me.
I can focus on things that matter to me, like writing, and reading, and editing.
I have made wonderful online friends, who fangirl shamelessly share my faith and interests, and are wonderful, encouraging people.
I’ve had time to develop musically and teach myself how to play guitar, piano, ukulele, and how to sing.
I learned how to surf and now fight off bad guys amuse myself with karate.
I’ve fostered so many new passions and interests, and matured so much in my faith.
Things that were once such huge players in my life have become nothing more than occasionally resurfacing memories.
And you know what? I’m good with that.
So many times, we let our pasts take hold of us and let us continue to ask about “what could have been.” That’s not right.
A poem by Robert Frost, called “The Road Not Taken,” talks about this. The speaker is faced with two paths to choose in life, not right and wrong per se, but two choices, and he must go one way or the other.
The last stanza goes like this.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
(Read the full poem here.)
The poem isn’t called “The Road Less Traveled,” but “The Road Not Taken.” It’s about how we will never know what life would be like if we had chosen to do something else.
As much as I love Frost’s poetry, I don’t think our lives should have such a melancholy undertone over “what-ifs.” Of course we’ll never know what things would have been like if we chose a different path. But we needn’t hinge our thinking on that fact.
I’m learning every day to be okay with where God puts me. The choices I’ve made – such as stopping gymnastics, and removing that thing that I let define me – have brought me to where I am today.
I’d like to share something with you.
Your life is not a mistake.
God has a plan for your life, whether you’re eleven or ninety-seven. And whoever you are, know that you are exactly where you need to be. You don’t need to spend so much time dwelling on the fact that you never finished your education, or that you never achieved the high goals you set for yourself, or that you have an apartment rather than a mansion.
It’s okay to not be rich or famous, it’s okay that you never followed the glamourous dreams you thought you wanted, it’s okay, because you are still living the life that God has planned for you.
If you want to go out and try something new, to be bold in your faith, to start fresh, go for it. But don’t look back, because honey, you can’t change what’s happened. You don’t look behind you when you want to move forward.
We all have trials. We all have bad days, bad months, and bad years. But with God in our lives, we cannot classify our lives themselves as bad.
God has known from the dawn of time the choices we’d make. And through good and bad, He loves us.
Don’t regret where you are. It may be hard, but don’t look back. We needn’t dwell on the past because that life, that part of us, that person – is gone. We are who we are now. Let’s make the best of it, and live to be who God has created us to be.