Here’s an unusual story, created by a usual cause, with the usual effects, until now!
Some sailors had been drinking. It was late on a dark night and they wished to return to their ship. They arrived at the place where they had left their rowboat and drew out the oars. They rowed and rowed and seemed to make little progress. Finally, the most sober among them discovered that they had never loosened the boat’s painter from the wharf. A painter is rope that is attached from the back or front of the rowboat to a wharf.
There’s a lesson here that can set captives free. God asks us to do two things in order to go forward. Not only do we need to row, we also need to cut loose of past, present or future things holding us back. Unresolved issues behind us in our past can impede us from what God and life have for us in the future. There’s no future other than the past when we are tied to the wharf. The harder we try, the more exhausted we become. Our effort is not as strong as a wharf.
I’m sure all of us can relate to this in one degree or another. Some are tied to wounds from their childhood. Others are tied to unmet expectations they had of themselves or others. Some are tied to a spouse who cheated on them, a pastor who disappointed them, a business partner who betrayed them or a person who offends or offended them. Some are tied to humanistic philosophy and a world view that produces nothing but confusion in the end. Some are tied to besetting habits. Some are tied to fear of the future and what it will bring. Others are tied to false self-image and identity issues. The list goes on and on.
Think of the rope of unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is the rope which ties us to the wharf of the past. We can row like crazy but wherever we go, our unforgiveness goes with us. We are handcuffed to the one who caused our pain. It’s like dragging around a person who weighs 500 pounds with us wherever you go. It wears us out. We eventually give up, coping with but not confronting the rope which ties us to the wharf.
Forgiveness is not for others. Forgiveness is for us. It’s the key to the handcuffs, freeing us from them. We are free, but we need to uncuff ourselves to experience what can be, rather than what was. Playing the victim only reinforces unforgiveness by blame-shifting. Victimization may empower us to row harder and faster on the fuel of hate or revenge. But, row as we will, we will still be tethered to the wharf of victimization. Like a rat inside the cage on the wheel of misfortune, we’re going nowhere.
May I say something personal? You are not a victim. You are a human being, made in the image of God, who had something bad, even devastating, happen to you. What happened to you is not who you are. Quit taking on a false identity or you will be tied to the wharf ad nauseum. You will become a lightning rod for calamity, and a mighty magnet attracting problems from near and far.
Many of you would agree with much of what I have written so far. The key is doing something about it. The solution is often as simple as untying the rope. The rope, not the wharf, is the problem. Here’s the solution all effective, life-transforming counseling is aiming you toward. When you are finally ready, loosen your grip on the rope of your issue, then let go. Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.
Now that we know what we need to do, what are we going to do with what we know we need to do? Probably nothing. Here’s an explanation from author James Clear.
“Human beings have been procrastinating for centuries. The problem is so timeless, in fact, that ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle developed a word to describe this type of behavior: Akrasia. Akrasia is the state of acting against your better judgment. It is when you do one thing even though you know you should do something else. Akrasia is procrastination or a lack of self-control. Akrasia is what prevents you from following through on what you set out to do.”
Why do we do this? Our brain values long-term goals for our future self, when it’s in the future. But when the time comes to decide in the present, we will no longer make a choice for our future self. We are in the present and our brain is thinking about the present self. Researchers have discovered the present self likes instant gratification, not long-term payoff. Being present-minded takes us backward to the road of least resistance and back to being tied to the wharf.
People, this isn’t information, It’s illumination. Understanding how our brain works, then managing your brain, empowers you to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Decide to be future-minded. A decision is a breakthrough into your real self in seed form.