Ralph Waldo Emerson was a venerated American poet, essayist, philosopher, and pastor. A Harvard graduate, Emerson was appointed as pastor of the Old Second Church in Boston, but soon became a despondent preacher. After the death of his nineteen-year-old bride of tuberculosis, Emerson felt he could no longer administer the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper because it bothered his conscience. Emerson resigned his pastorate in 1831.

But he must have learned something during that trying time. Emerson married his second wife, Lydia Jackson of Plymouth, in 1835. He would later write to one of his daughters who was away at school and say: “Finish every day and be done with it. For manners and for wise living it is a vice to remember. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely, and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. This day for all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the rotten yesterdays.1

Too often we spend so much time on yesterday’s mistakes, that it’s tomorrow before we realize that we’ve wasted today. None of us likes to be stuck in time, especially on tragic days-gone-by. It’s so easy to take on the spirit of victimhood, asking ourselves, “How could this have happened to me?” Even though when we attempt the same thing again we can avoid making the identical mistake, but we can’t go back and erase the errors of the past.

Instead of being hard on yourself, accept the fact that everyone will have faults and failures, troubles and trials, good days and bad. It’s what you do with them that really counts. Don’t let it figure disproportionately on how you value yourself. In fact, sometimes mistakes can be taken as gifts. They show you what not to do so that you can better figure out what to do. Then write down some goals that you want to achieve and begin to focus on them. It may take you in a whole new direction, but you’ll discover some things you would never have known without those mistakes.

The Apostle Paul was a firm believer in this philosophy. In one of his Epistles he wrote: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.2 This echoes what Jesus Himself once said: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.3

But the most comforting part of going through these experiences is that with God the Father watches us like He watches the flowers and the sparrows; Jesus the Son of God is interceding for us so that all the help we need will be available, and with the Holy Spirit is walking beside us as our comforter, teacher, and guide. It’s not so much where we’ve been that counts, but where we end up. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

A Memoir of Ralph Waldo Emerson by James Elliot Cabot, Vol. I, Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Boston, 1888, p. 489

2 Philippians 3:13-14

Luke 9:62

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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