A study of the Parable of the talents.

It all boils down to what do you place your trust in.
It all boils down to what do you place your trust in.

The Parable of the Talents.

Do me a favor and read this first.

“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. “Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (‭Matthew‬ ‭25‬:‭14-30‬ NASB)

When we read this story it’s hard to believe that Jesus was the one telling it. What was he trying to tell us? On the surface it seems like a very hard man that was overly harsh on one of his slaves for not earning him extra money, but if you dig a little deeper you will see a valuable lesson here.
The talents themselves in this story are symbolic of several things. Our God given abilities, our personal talents God gave us, or they are just a item used to show us something much deeper. Now look at the slaves. Why did he give 5 talents to one, 2 to another and 1 to the last? This is where we get into some interpretation because there is nothing officially written about it. Maybe this master knew these slaves and he knew not to trust the last one as much as the other two. I don’t know but there must have been some reason.
What is the difference here between the slaves and their actions.
The first 2 take action, the third is afraid. The master never told them what to do or how to do it. He never gave them instructions of any kind.
Yet 2 took the initiative and took a risk and were rewarded for it. The last was afraid and did nothing, he didn’t lose any of the money but he didn’t act at all and was punished for it.
Now apply this to your life. God is our master. He is calling us to be brave with all we are given, I’m not talking about taking risks that are frivolous or self serving. But Godly ones, morally right ones. I am really convinced God wants us taking risks in faith in his name and trusting him to guide us through those risks. Every character in the bible was not guided step by step by god never having to trust. They all had to trust and make decisions in life with out Gods guidance in the small specifics to how. They were acting on the things he has shown them and was doing the best they could to follow that line. God doesn’t micro manage our lives. If that were the case we wouldn’t need any faith just follow stupidly to each place he pointed.
This parable is a excellent example and its even by Jesus…. can’t get any better than that.
In these verse he is telling us to stand tall be brave and use what God has given you, shown you, or pointed you to through prayer to bring him glory. The master says that he could have at least put it in the bank and brought him the interest. But the man was so afraid he might lose what he was given he just buried it. We do the same thing every time when we take a skill we have or a path the God has laid at your feet and we baulk or make excuses as to why we are not going and moving. Its Fear. Fear is the biggest killer of blessings there is. Fear is evil. God placed a fear in us for self preservation in a life and death situation. Not fear of a Boss, or others opinions, or anything. God wants us to be BIG for him. What i mean by that is we get one shot at this life. ONE!!!!! One chance to find your talents and gifts and use them to help others and bring him glory. I don’t care if its a job or a career, a friendship or relationship. He wants us to reach…. stretch ourselves out side where we are comfortable. Reach in faith past our fears, past our doubts. I don’t believe that God places things in our way to stop us. It can happen sure but more often than not what is holding us back…. FEAR!!!!! of what??? others dislikes? loss of material things? Financial lose? Job Loss? If God has called you to use one of your gifts…. if you don’t use it or do what he is telling you. Your in sin. Period. Thats the unfiltered truth. Too many times we look as sin as being something we do. But it can also be something we failed to do. Thats the thing thats hard to admit. We can reason away opportunities missed or Procrastinated away…..been there done that could write the book on it.
Too many times we are faced with something at one time or another we felt God showed us something, told us to move in a direction or light an area of our lives we needed to move toward, but its new scary and a HUGE amount of unknown. So what do we do?? we think…..”hmmmm I’m not sure i heard that right. I think I might have gotten mixed up with God there.” We talk ourselves out of it.
Again I think God is softly asking us…. do you trust me? Its in those moments that we know. In our hearts we know but later we second guess ourselves out of it because….. duh its hard its scary. Fear has raised its head and the enemy has started to sink his teeth into you.
This is something we will struggle with until the day we die and go meet our Lord. fear is a battle. BUT!!!!!!… i can say this… the more you face your fears the lesser they become. You take away the things in fear that are only in our minds. You strip it of its most important tool. our mind. When your mind starts to see that our fears are not always as bad as it thinks they are. they get easier to face.

So look at this verse with a different eye and realize who is telling you this story and why. Fear is mentioned over 300 times in the bible. This is just one more example of how God is showing us the results of a fear lead life and that he wants us reaching in faith outside our comfort zones and trusting him and not our own ability to control our circumstances. Trust….. thats what he wants in us. Give it all to him and step in faith. sometimes two of the hardest things to do what the trials are in your face.

Why is love so important.

WHy is love so important to us
WHy is love so important to us

“The world says “love if.” Gods love says “love even if”

We hear that we are to love one another…. The bible is pretty clear on that. But I think many don’t understand why. This is just my take on this, and on one aspect, see if you agree.
Everyone has a past. Most have a certain amount of pain, usually at the hands of someone that has hurt them and made them put up walls to protect themselves. Look at it as a asphalt road. As it is exposed to the heat and cold and harsh treatment it gets cracks and pot holes and it gets rougher and rougher. If no repair is done it hinders your movement. It keeps you from moving forward. By being able to give someone kindness and love be it as a friend or romantic love. Your repairing those damaged sections. Slowly you fill those old cracks and holes, the torn and damaged areas are slowly filled with trust and love. It takes a special person to fill them. One that doesn’t give up when faced with negative walls or pushes away. One that’s persistent not because they gain anything but because they love as we are supposed to.
Most of the time we don’t even realize the whys behind it but struggle when someone throws up walls to keep you out. Don’t take it personal understand that it’s because they have been hurt they are afraid to trust again. It’s up to you to slowly show them love is a great thing and everyone is capable and deserving of that kind of love.
This is the love god speaks of, the love he has for all of us.
One thing people will ask is…. Isn’t this where god comes in? Isn’t he supposed to fill that gap for people?
In general I would say yes. But the one thing everyone craves is human love. If god meant for us to be fully fulfilled with his love only why did he create Eve? He knew and saw the need for human contact and affection for each other. This is where gods work through us as humans is great. If we love as we are supposed to. Selflessly and unconditionally then this allows his love to show through someone he is working through. If that makes sense.
He works through us, our words, our actions, our behaviors. He has used unbelieving kings and people to get his work done what makes us any different. So show that love to others be kind and have empathy for them. If it’s romantic love, come closer to god and allow his love to flow through you to slowly erode someone’s walls of distrust and unworthy misbeliefs about themselves and what they are worthy of…… Prove them wrong and show what god can do through you.

What a touch of kindness can do.

true Kindness is a kind act  done not for looks not for any other reason than the act itself.
true Kindness is a kind act done not for looks not for any other reason than the act itself.

A touch of kindness.
I read a story today about one person bought a $40 gift card at Starbucks for the person behind them in the drive through. This caused a pay it forward for the next 400 some customers until one lady refused to pay for the person behind her. She got a free coffee and left. sad.

It made me feel good about people in general. Too much in life we get locked up in our little piece of life. We forget to give… thats what it basically comes down to.
Sometimes it takes someone else to remind us.. so see what one person can do!!!! many times we look at things like… ” my little contribution can’t help.” We take the attitude. If I cant do it big I wont do it at all. But this is a perfect illustration of how someones relatively small gift to someone else, a random stranger none the less. But it caused all of those other people to remember that the idea of giving doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. It can be contagious. 🙂

God’s whispers vs Life’s shouting

Gods guidance comes quietly in whispers, rarely shouting to us.
Gods guidance comes quietly in whispers, rarely shouting to us.

Gods voice is usually not a scream or a shout. But our lives that we live do. Our society, our circumstances scream loudly, and the sad thing is they rarely match. As Christians we seem to be able to spout advice thats righteous, and usually true, but we give it like we have it all under control.
It is so easy to say one thing and we totally believe it even in our hearts we truly do. Then our own tests come. God is whispering in our heads one thing and the world around us and our circumstances and our fears and doubts rise up and scream at the top of their lungs. The devil knows which buttons to push, which issues hit our weak spots, that get that instant reaction of fear and worry, our level of anxiety rises to all new heights. OK now remember that advice you gave someone a few months ago. “Listen to God if he is telling you to push your head through a brick wall, move forward trusting he will make a hole for it.” (Charles Stanley) Remember that advice you gave someone.??? It might not have been those words but I’m guessing you have. I know I have. There is nothing wrong with that advice but when the test is in our own back yard and in the middle of our lives with your kids, your relationships, your job, your life. Its a little different now isn’t it?
That’s life though. If you are reading this looking for answer I’m sorry to say that there will be more questions come out of this than answers. God rarely is as loud as our fears or our anxieties about our lives. I know from my experiences that I will reason Gods words out over time. I will procrastinate I will ignore him. I will do that all under the disguise of waiting for God. Don’t get me wrong there many times we need to wait for God. But we can use that as a excuse also. We can place the blame in a round about way on Gods shoulders when deep down we know its ours. Thats a tough one to come to terms with sometimes. So what are we to do? Well, personally I have done will in some areas of my life. Some areas I can follow gods voice and do what he is asking no problem.. other areas it seems a struggle and is a none stop inner struggle i have with myself. The one thing it does do, it changes how I give advice. If I’m in a situation to remind someone to trust God then i better well have some experience doing just that, and don’t keep it to myself share your experience with people. Make it personal for them, something to relate too. It’s not having sympathy for some one as much as it is empathy. Your able to relate a past experience of yours to help them see how God might work with them. The problem a lot of people seem to have it they give all kinds of advice but not having any experience to back it up and throw out these “christian” platitudes that make me cringe. Its ok to give that kind of advice because its true, we are supposed to trust God and give all our worries to him. but not to make someone feel bad about it if they are struggling with it. Its only when you can relate your own witness, your story of how God worked in your life and tell them the struggles that you had and the faith failures and the low places you went through. THAT is what brings it home and gives them hope.

So your thinking Ok thats great but how does this apply to my life? My situation, my fears…I told you there would be more questions didn’t I?
The fact is everyone struggles at some point on some subject. Satan knows our weaknesses and what causes fear to rise up to keep us in place and not to move toward what God is whispering to us. Its all about trust. Trust is Gods test for us. It always has been. Do we trust God or do we trust what we see feel hear and fear. The thing is God knows. period. He knows when we rely on our own powers our own strengths. The only person we are fooling is ourselves.
We hide from Gods path for us because its never easy its never just a simple step. The reason is because if it was always easy we would never grow, we wouldn’t need him, Jesus says its hard for the rich to get into heaven because they have all they need here. ( paraphrases) Its the exact same. If all the doors God opened for us were easy choices then we would slowly stop worshiping, stop praying and stop craving him in our life. He knows that Duh!!!! Life is never easy, there are misguided people, evil people, and great people. All in our path for a reason.
So the answers lie inside you. We have to be brutally honest with ourselves. admit when we have dropped the ball God has given us. and hope that his grace gives us a second chance at it. If not stand firm on the lesson gained and step forward not back. Thats the other thing I have seen. many people are living in mental places that are horrible on them. Filled with fear worry doubting second guessing Gods words that he has maybe been showing you for years but still baulk. In all honesty, with myself, when there is a thing that causes a large fear inside me I know I better listen and not to the fears. Listen for God because when fear strikes I know that is not from God. Fear is Satan’s tool not Gods. So use that as a guide. Look inside your self see the fears and what they are where they came from and how are the stopping you right now. Fear is the biggest killer of dreams and the biggest killer of Gods will for our lives. hands down with out a doubt. and its sad. I have seen many people myself included that have missed wonderful opportunities in life because is caused me to take a leap and go outside my comfort zone and i reasoned my way out of it. I let my fears talk me and justified it with inaction.
I am a firm believer that God wants Bold action in his name, he wants our faith to lead us to taking big risks in his name. The bigger we go the more he gets to shine. His glory glows more and more when we do this. Like I said before, these are easy to say until your the one sitting in the hot seat and Gods whispering. ……go. and the world and your circumstances, your fears are screaming NO!!!! as loud as they can. try your hardest to listen to that whisper. I have never taken a risk for God that hasn’t been rewarded,
Look inside yourself and don’t be afraid of what you will find. It really can change your life for the better

Why do people feel the need to tear us down?

Some people just amaze me, the need they have to make people feel like less or ridicule them for the things they do to better themselves.
Case in point…. I was leaving work… I had changed clothes to my work out clothes and was heading to the gym…. a person that works in the same building asks me… ” are you going to the gym?” Yes. I reply
she then asks me where I go. I said Im heading to Crossfit. she got kind of a sneer on her face and said… ” OH.!!! your a cross-fitter? ” I chuckled and said yes.
SHe says ” Well I want to meet you when your 60 and see which one of us is in better shape.” Ok what was funny was she was in no place to criticize me she doesn’t go to the gym she doesn’t eat healthy. I have seen her around work before. Then she asks me “How old are you.” I smiled and said 43. she kind of looked shocked…. now I’m not a greek god or anything. I’m in shape I have muscles, I need to lose about 15 more pounds to get where I want to be, but I’m getting there. but I defiantly look better than most 43 year olds I’m talking physical shape anyway. When she asked me to meet her at 60. I said Ok your on. She looks me up and down then lowered her head and said never mind LOL
I just about couldn’t hold my laughter until I got to the truck.
But what struck me was the desire people have, people that don’t work hard to stay in shape or eat right, ridiculing those of us that do. They seem to take it too far. By that I mean anyone that does crossfit is a maniac fitness freak that lifts too heavy and is injured all the time. This is a case were a few have labeled the majority. Yes crossfit is known for some insane work outs but you have to curb that with your own ability and scale them to fit you and not let your ego push you past your limits. The atmosphere does breed competition which for most guys can be dangerous to push past their limits. But CrossFit itself is not a bad thing its the egos that each person takes in to the box with them that gets them hurt. Now I will get off my soap box about that.
This is about peoples attitudes about others that are doing the work to get fit and feel better. I never understand this attitude in life, the need to drag people down that are reaching for more or higher. It just floors me.
Some how it makes them feel better about themselves when really it should make them feel bad or motivate themselves to do more instead they feel the need to pull you down to their level to make them feel better about a lack luster effort to get fit. LOL just amazing


The never ending battle
The never ending battle

Surprise!!!!!! Thats one thing I have found…. God loves surprises. The bad thing is many times we don’t see them as a good thing.
If you are familiar with your bible you can start in Genesis and go all the way through and you will find one thing after another. Gods people are surprised by what God does, by how he does it and the results of his work.

We as humans have this natural sense to see bad in things, I think it is just a way that we prepare ourselves for what might be ahead of us. Kind of preparing for the worst just in case it happens type of thing.

I think a key thing to following God and listening to his voice is to change our outlook about surprises. Look at Abraham. Pack up your people and go this direction….. no where no place just go that way and he does it not knowing.
Next promises to populate the world with his miracle of a son Isaac. Then to ask him to kill him as a sacrifice….. surprise… only to save him right before he plunged the knife in his own son.
Joseph…… thrown in a pit. then sold to slavery. Then in jail for something he didnt do. surprise…..

Each surprise God brings has a purpose. They can be a surprise of job loss, medical issue, having to move, family things…. its an endless list. Some we see as good things but most we see as bad things. but they are all to grow us in our faith.
When we can get out of our selfish state we tend to stay in and see and reach for God in these moments. We lose parts of ourselves. I felt this going through my divorce. I lost most of the stuff and money that I felt defined me, and now I’m wondering how I am going to make it to the next cycle of bills. I lived in fear of that for a long time. Many nights I was awake all night worrying. Now I look back and think only by the grace of God did I ever make it. I did the math… it doesn’t add up right. I shouldn’t have made it. But I did because eventually I gave up on self and gave in to God and trusting him. I wish I could say I am the perfect follower and do this every time but I would be a liar. I struggle, I fight God because his surprises hurt and they stretch us to places outside our comfort zone. It is an ongoing battle of self vs God. One that doesn’t go away no matter how far we grow or how old we get.
So remember in your day. Just when you think you have your life right where you want it to stay, you better look out. God will throw a wrench in your finely tuned plan. One to wake you up and rely on him instead of your own ability. The faster we come to realize that, the quicker those surprises stop making us anxious and worry warts.
Its Gods way of forcing you outside your comfort zone and it works. but its not always easy and its not always fun but there is always a lesson to be gained and growth made if you choose it.

What is your life’s message.

Today I was just thinking as I was driving. What is it that turns people off to God and the bible? I think I have a unique view of this because just 4-5 years ago I was one of them.
I can honestly say that the people of christianity are what build it or destroy it. It’s the people that turned me away. When I was on the fence and could have been turned with a more open heart to God. I saw judgmental people, I saw fake, I saw people there only to look good to others. I saw people acting self righteously and arrogant. My thought at that time was…. wow if this is what Christianity is and followers of God are then I want no part of it.
I really think We as christians can be the very barrier stopping most non believers from coming to God.
It took me finally seeing that God is God. He is not always represented by the people that follow him. I’m not saying all christians are that way but at that time that’s all I saw and that is where I focused… is that fair? No, but its a reality. So the real question is. Are you driving people away with your message? Are you pushy? Are you judgmental of others sin when you have sin also? Sin is sin, in Gods eyes, there is no ultimate sin. It’s a time to reflect on the christian you are and what others see in you.

Working in a hospital for many years I can say the people that made me take a look and question my beliefs are the people I saw there. They were faced with trials of health …. they were literally facing death or a failing parent, lost child, lost limb, life effecting medical things.
I saw people with terminal diseases that smiled and were not angry, but had joy in their lives still.
I remember one guy when we started talking, he told me he had gone through the being mad and angry at what God had done to him. Then he smiled and said, “It’s funny how God can reach you, even when your cross eyed mad at him.” haha. He said life is life. It’s short and we forget to live it instead of just going through the motions. This guy had a smile on his face and I could see he was at peace in his circumstance. I asked him how he got to that point. He just laughed and said…. “How did being angry help me? Was it gaining me another day of life? Was it helping those I love want to visit me?” He said. “All that anger did was push people away and I was alone.” He said that God had gotten him through that part of it and that he was at peace with what ever happened, if he was healed or God took him home either way.
Those are the stories that make you think its more than just the people.
What we forget as Gods children sometimes is that people need to hear the God events in your life. Those are the ones they can relate with. By that I mean they know you, they have seen the trials you have gone through. They see how your faith has emotionally and physically carried you through hard times. Your story is Gods message. Thats it…. it’s that simple. You can spout bible verses and all the “God speak” the church says but I can tell you those phrases are for other christians. None believers are turned off by them they don’t understand them and can not relate. What they need is meat. Real stories of faith. They want to hear WHY….. why do you believe what you do. What happened to you that made you change your thinking or your beliefs.
So remember don’t be afraid to tell your story. Some will be in awe others it wont mean a thing, but thats not your job.
The other day I heard something that said. We are to be the messenger only, we deliver our witness and it touches them or they ignore it. We don’t push we don’t prod for someone to see our views, that is Gods job. Believe me, being a pushy christian to change others wont do you a bit of good. As a matter of fact I would bet that the harder you push the harder people will fight against you.

So remember your witness is the way we show others God in your life. If you never go through a trial in your life then you my friend have never been tested. Being tested is the very act of faith. So if your bragging that you haven’t had any big events in your life because your blessed, then you better hang on because that either breeds complacency or apathy in your faith. And I know for a fact that satan loves a complacent Christian it gives him lots of room to sew seeds that will hurt for years.

Jonah and a lesson

I heard a Great sermon about Jonah today as I was driving. What is the one thing everyone knows about Jonah? The whale right? He gets swallowed by a whale. thats what every one knows about Jonah.
The fact is, that part is a minor part of the story. God says that the prophets are normal men, because well… they are. Many didn’t want to be prophets at all, some ran from the job. Some after amazing battles won by God in amazing fashions found themselves in the lowest of lows. Some even wanting to end their lives.
Jonah’s story is one we can all gain from. Here is a guy that God is telling him to go to Nineveh, to a place and people that he knew would not greet him warmly to say the least. So he does what a lot of us do today. He runs trying to hide from it. Now a lot of us today don’t physically run from it but we will distance ourselves, procrastinate, or delay many ways the things God puts on our heart…. why???? If God places this on our hearts shouldn’t we grasp them openly and be glad that God has given us some direction? Well its usually because the things God places on us are usually things we are not comfortable with or instill fear in us. These are usually things that he is doing to us to get us outside a place of safety or our all to comfortable comfort zones. When we stay in these places we leave God little room to work for us. I believe the saying goes. If your making prayers be ready to move when the answers come. If your afraid to step you cant blame God.
Jonah did the same thing, He was afraid so he physically wanted to put as much distance between himself and God. The problem is there, isn’t a place you can get away from God. Its no different for us. We just do it other ways to not face what ever it is God puts in front of us.
But the answers are exactly the same. Face it. Turn and face what ever it is head on. The problem I always had with most of the Christian community as a general rule, if your faith is strong there will be no fear. We see many times in the bible talking of courage. Well to have courage there is fear. If there is no fear then it takes no courage. Fear is something to be faced. Many times in our lives we build up things in our heads that are much larger than reality. they have a seed of truth to them which makes it so we can seemingly justify it. but when we focus on a fear long enough it becomes bigger than our faith. We see things happening and they are usually every worst case scenario we can think of. Im not saying they will never happen but usually not. Usually we get done facing a fear and think wow that wasn’t as bad as I had thought. But really that doesn’t help us much with our problem. Buuuuut. 🙂 We can look in our past of times we have faced other fears and seen the same things. We can build our confidence through those events.

Jonah wasn’t done though. He went and gave the message to them of what he called his prediction of things to come.
Just kill me now, LORD! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.” (‭Jonah‬ ‭4‬:‭3‬ NLT)
Do you see what had seeped its way into his mind. Pride. He was willing to die if the things he had told them didn’t come to pass. Do you see how we are so much like this at times. We have these notions of how things should go and when God goes a different way we feel jilted. Jonah felt the same. He felt if his prediction didn’t come to pass it would make him look bad.
So what does Jonah do? he pouts. Sound familiar?
The LORD replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. (‭Jonah‬ ‭4‬:‭4-5‬ NLT)
But God has a way of working us through our own missed expectations, but it can be a hard road if we fight it.

I would recommend reading through Jonah again and look at the last chapter.
We basically see a pouting child and how God can work us through our pride and missed expectations if we just let him.


Broken roads

Many times in our lives we look at the long journey of broken hearts, bodies, minds and souls. We look back and see all the mistakes, the bad choices and regrets. We see a road of washed out pavement, cracked, and weather dry. We see missed turns that led us into the ditch and then maybe others that are smooth for a bit, but end in a broken road that contain all of our hurt feelings.
We all have this road, each one is different and we should never tell someone we understand the things they have gone through unless you have been through them. We can have empathy for someone even if we do not understand their situation or choices. This is the sign of a good heart. Someone thats willing to come alongside you, not to judge you, but take your arm or hand and say I’m here, no judgment, no shame, no anything but a friend.

Too many people are looking at the road that got them to today as a life of bad things that lead to more bad things and that will never change. The truth of the matter is it can change, but it means taking the steps you need to change them. If someone is mistreating you its usually because your allowing it. Many bad people will gladly treat you bad when you let them feel comfortable doing it. Not until you make a stand for yourself, will that change.
Never let your past define your future. You are better than the people that have mistreated you in your past or present.
Instead look at the journey for what you have gained. The strength you have gotten from it and the lessons learned. If you have someone in your life thats a great partner or spouse then each choice you made lead to them. be thankful for those instead of letting them hold you back.