John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

Memorial Day Weekend

I'm headed out of town this weekend again. Florida this time. Panama City to be exact. I'm speaking at a retreat for singles, and I'm thinking about the past. Not really in a nostalgic sort of way, but the first topic I'm going to deal with is why we allow the past to define us so much. I have to be honest and say that there are things from my past that I'm ashamed of. Some of that shame is negative and based on distortions and half-truths. Some of that shame is warranted as it reveals the gap between who I have been in my life, and who I am meant to be.

Surely, if people lose their sense of shame, they lose something of what it means to be human, right?

And yet...I am a different person (in more ways than one) than I was. Seneca said you can never step into the same river twice. How much more true it is that we never meet the same person twice -- all that has come before leads us to who we are today and what we will experience tomorrow will help make us a different person the day after that.

I am growing, and I am changing. I continue to learn and progress. God is not finished with me and has promised to see this process of transformation through to its completion. There is a role that I play in this process, but I cannot claim responsibility for it, nor can I take the credit for it. God is the one who makes the wind blow. My job is to figure out which way it's blowing and try to harness it as best I can.

And in the process, I will fail. When I fail, as odd as this sounds, the Apostle Paul's advice is to forget about it. Put it in the past. Learn what there is to learn. Confess where that's appropriate. Work to set things right. And when all that's over -- put it in the past and move forward.

I know...I know.... I'm too hard on myself sometimes. I beat myself up for things long gone. I remember too well the negatives and forget too easily the positives. That should be reversed, and I know it. I'm working on it. But without a sense of how fallen I have been in the past, I will not appreciate the heights to which I have been lifted now.

This Memorial Day weekend, I am called to remember. And I am called to forget as well.