The Impact of Your Past

Pumbaa: “It’s times like this my buddy Timon here says, ‘You got to put your behind in your past.'”

Timon: “No, no, no. Amateur. Lie down before you hurt yourself. It’s ‘You got to put your past behind you.'”

(The Lion King)

In this scene, Simba finally moves forward after attempting to forget his past. He realizes forgetting is not only impossible, but doing so denies who he is as well as holds impact well beyond himself.

Our youngest son came to us when he was nine years old. He brought with him a rough start to life filled with more disappointments, struggles, and hurts than most people face in a lifetime. In the time he’s been our son, we worked to undo the damage and bring him to a place of continued forward growth academically, mentally, socially, and spiritually.

We talked a lot about how he could better handle life’s situations without reacting and letting emotion control him. Finding positive choices helped him grow and heal.

Questions that Help

These five questions helped our son immensely and can help anyone with the process of learning from their past and moving forward.

  1. Did you ask for forgiveness? While granting forgiveness remains out of his control, asking begins the healing process. We also made sure that he forgave where needed too, and we referenceed Ephesians 4:32 in that discussion.
  2. What can you control? The answer is always “myself.” This brings understanding about focusing on controlling attitude, actions, and words.
  3. What can’t you control? The answer to this is always “others.” You can only control yourself, not others.
  4. What could you have done differently? This question helps understand that while we may not have meant for something to happen, our actions or reactions set the stage for something to happen or somehow make a situation worse. The idea of a ripple effect is crucial for growth.
  5. What can you do to control your anger/frustration in the future? We then spent a few minutes discussing ideas, which usually included praying, taking a deep breath, walking away, taking a break, journaling, and quoting scripture. Having tools for when struggles happen again is crucial to prevent repeating the same mistakes.

These discussions with our son also included talking about self-control and its importance, and we focused on how he could build trust through respect and obedience. We then ended the discussion with a prayer and “hugging it out.”

These questions can become automatic not just for addressing issues with teenagers but also for tackling the struggles in our own lives. They provide an intentional way to understand the value of Going Backward So You Can Move Forward.