Two years ago I wrote about the principle of passing by on the other side. Here’s a snippet to help you understand what I meant by that:
I went running. That much is true. And to be honest, I run with anticipation, of what God will say. He speaks to me along the streets of my neighborhood, in the glint of sunshine on the lake, the smell of fall in the air. So when I turned the corner to ascend the hill, I started the little game I’d been playing each time I did so. I condemned. Maligned. Hollered at myself.
There’s a house on my route that serves as a reminder of a failure of mine. And every time I jog by that house, the words assault me. “You should’ve remembered. You should’ve extended more grace.”
So I started my mantra to the cadence of my slow-paced run.
Then the Lord said this: Pass by on the other side.
Yes. You’ve beaten yourself up far too much. Pass by on the other side.
So I did. I purposefully ignored the painful house reminder, steadying my gaze on the other side of the road. I noticed houses I’d never noticed before. New landscaping. A new vista. The sun shone differently on this side of the street. And once I passed the house, I felt free.
It really is true that you have a choice. You can run on the side of the road where the condemnation blossoms. Or you can choose to run to the other side and notice new signs of life. You can beat yourself up, or choose to offer grace. Yes, grace–even to yourself.
So yesterday when I jogged by that house again, I remembered what my daughter Julia told me recently. “They moved, Mom,” she said. “They don’t live there anymore.”
It niggled at me. They moved on. But the tinge of regret still stung me.
Could it be that we cling far too much to pain and regret and shame? Does it do us any good? Remember this: Other people move on. They get on with their lives. The question is: Can you?
So picture that thing you can’t seem to let go of as a house. In your mind, jog by on the other side. Offer yourself grace. And then picture a moving truck out in front of that house. The reminder of your pain has packed boxes, moved a piano, and scrubbed floors. They’ve jumped in the moving van and moved on.
Now picture yourself continuing to run, no longer held back by the memory. Wave to the moving truck as it lumbers past you. And then keep running. Move on. Your heart and health depend on it.