By Don Lindsey
We’ve all heard about the dangers of living in the past and how dwelling on yesterday can blur our ability to see what’s ahead of us. I do not doubt the validity of that logic. However, I use a slightly different approach when tackling my day-to-day life. For me remembering both the good and bad from my past help shape my future decisions and ultimately, happiness.
For instance, four years ago I wrote a blog about a friendship that ended very badly. I was very negative in my writing, going as far as to publicly blast the person I was upset with and attacking his character. While some friendships do not last and quite frankly shouldn’t, the way I handled my side of that situation was beyond wrong for a multitude of reasons. For starters, my former friend was just as upset with me as I was with him and he didn’t attack me publicly or privately until after I had posted my blog. Also, while taking my verbal swings at him, I ended up hitting members of his family, and these are people that I love and respect very much. His mother was and is someone I love and look at as a second mother. She was distraught, hurt and disappointed that I handled myself the way I did and while his daughter never expressed any anger towards me, the very thought of her being upset with me made me feel ashamed. Thankfully I was able to restore my relationship with his mother and as I mentioned his daughter, someone I’ve known and loved since she was born, has always been wonderful towards me, even after I had made a complete fool out of myself. That particular friendship needed to end. However, I did not need to act the way I did.
To say that I learned something from that situation would be a massive understatement. At first, I tried to dismiss my actions by using the excuse that I was only expressing what I felt, but deep down, I knew that was garbage and eventually came to grips with the fact that my childish behavior and lashing out hit people that I would never intend to hurt. I led with anger, and when you lead with anger, you cause damage. Even after I started to realize my mistake, I still had excuses. I kept telling myself that I was under a ton of stress due to medical problems. When I realized that this wasn’t a concreate reason for what I had done, I used the excuse that I hadn’t found Christ yet and therefore didn’t have the peace in my heart to handle those stressful situations that we often find ourselves in. While both of those statements are true, they are not a reason to publicly take shots at another person. As I wrote in my previous column, we as a society, tend to see only ourselves and only how to make our lives better. In my opinion, that is one of the biggest issues we have, and I know this because I had that same mentality for a large portion of my life. I didn’t truly find comfort with myself until I started to see that we accomplish so much more when we work together as opposed to tearing each other down.
While that incident was embarrassing, I am grateful for what I got out of it. I had a conversation a few nights ago with one of my oldest and very best friends, and we were discussing this topic. He said that he has no regrets about any of his past mistakes and while I admire and almost envy his ability to look at it that way, I have learned to use my regrets as learning points. I am always telling my kids that mistakes only happen once, maybe twice. After that, they’re no longer mistakes but bad choices that we decide to act on. I firmly believe that. In fact, one of the reasons I didn’t want to write publicly again in any form was due to the shame I felt from that blog post four years ago. I worked through that, accepted the opportunity to write for this publication and have been more than happy I have because of what I learned before. I tore down people with that blog post, but now realize that I also have the ability to do just the opposite by writing these columns. I don’t see myself as an inspirational source in any way but what I have learned is that for some reason, there are people who draw some inspiration out of the things I have been through. In a lot of ways, the biggest mistake I feel that I’ve ever made has prepared me for this moment, and I thank God every day for the lesson I learned from it.
Don Lindsey is a follower of Christ, son, husband, father, and a survivor. Originally from Dayton Ohio, and resident of Apopka for six years, Don sees his life as a dedication to his wife, parents, children, community and most importantly to God.