We all have a past.
For many of us, our past haunts our present, and in some cases even our future.
Perhaps we’ve made some new friendships that unfortunately learned through a rotten grape vine that our history isn’t what we wished it would have been and as a result judged us prematurely and inappropriately.
Or, maybe we have old friendships that will not let go of who we used to be, thus hindering the fresh perception of what we have become.
How do we overcome this obstacle?
How do we convince them our past doesn’t necessarily determine our present or our future?
How do we disprove the myth that people can’t change?
Do we argue with them?
Do we prepare a presentation to show them how pessimistic and narrow-minded they’re being?
Do we return hurt-for-hurt and bring up their skeletons, or do we just walk away and sever the friendship?
The lead character in 47 Ronin is an outcast. Aside from looking differently, Kai was also orphaned and thus disgraced having been left for dead in a forest. Kai, played by Keanu Reeves, rescues a samurai from a magical beast that would have otherwise taken his life. When the band of samurai return home, having slain the beast threatening their village, the samurai that almost lost his life takes credit for the kill, and thus the honor and glory accompanying the deed.
We look at the injustice and know Kai had every right to be offended. Many of us would have encouraged him to speak up and publicly denounce the liar for his cowardice behavior. We’d cry out in unison, “Defend your reputation!” Despite all the frustration that bubbles up in us, we don’t see Kai respond that way. He continues living his life not thinking too highly of himself. The story progresses and the band of samurai encounter a cause that unites them; Kai is integral to completing the mission. After Kai succeeds in a difficult trial, the other samurai see his honor and integrity and are left realizing they’ve been wrong about him the entire time—he is arguably the most honorable of them all. The samurai who claimed credit for vanquishing the magical beast (that would’ve otherwise killed him) is overcome with guilt and shame, and in meekness seeks to make amends. Kai humbly accepts his apology and pursues the friendship, not treating him how he had been treated.
Kai could have milked the man’s guilt and shame and rubbed it in his face before the other samurai. He could have drawn out the apology and publicly shamed the repentant man in front of his friends saying, “How dare you treat me that way!” Kai didn’t. He displayed an honorable humility. He lived in that moment how he had been living the entire time.
The moral of the story is this: there is no greater proof than a life lived. Our consistent everyday behavior will reveal the change that has taken place.
If you’re experiencing a struggle right now, don’t give up. If you’re enduring unfavorable circumstances, stand firm. You will see transformation if you persevere. It is in trials that our character and desires are tested and revealed.
There is a lot of wisdom to be learned from nature, especially from the metamorphosis undergone by caterpillars turning into butterflies. If the butterfly does not persist in their efforts to break free from their cocoon, the environment intended for new life and transformation will become its coffin. If someone comes along and breaks the cocoon for them, they will not have gained the strength to fly and will be defenseless against any predator. The struggle experienced by the confined butterfly prepares them for what is next. The butterfly does not cry out for pity. The butterfly does not request to have their plea heard before a jury of their peers. The butterfly patiently persists through the struggle and is met with a freedom never before experienced.
Endure, dear reader. Persist in doing good. Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who persecute you. You have a Father in heaven who finds great joy in caring for you. You can go to Him for help and consolation. He is committed to your growth. Remember this as you endure: there is no greater proof for transformation than a life lived. Your consistent everyday behavior will reveal to those around you the change that has taken place within you.