Don’t look back, you’re not going that way

The older you get, the harder discernment becomes. I feel like as children we have this innate tendency to trust and to sense what is good and pure in this world. We have our parents, our teachers, our older siblings, our cousins, our coaches, and so many influences that shape our understanding of the world and guide us along. Things seem to be in a constant state of moving forward – there is a familiar flow.

As we age, as we mature, as we develop into our own person we gain many things. Independence, autonomy, a strong sense of self. But somewhere in there, we lose or begin to misread that internal compass. That one that directs us and guides us continuously forward.

Looking back to reflect and to see how far we have come is necessary to grow. Moments of nostalgia and airs of sweet memories as we scroll through old photos on our phone or, how archaic, flip through a photo album on the coffee table. I have heard a lot of songs and talked to many people recently who long for earlier days. People who keep living in the past. Elevation Church did a sermon a few weeks back on this topic. Using Matthew 26 and Peter’s fear of moving forward in his life as an example. Without the constant guidance of Jesus, Peter seems to experience the exact kind of fear and state of complacency we get stuck in.

Ironically, most people will scoff at those who live in their glory days. We all know that uncle who “back in his day” could have gone pro if he didn’t blow out his knee, or that guy at the gym who used to bench 405 but now can barely hit 225. The back before I had kids, I had a killer body. Back before I got married, I had a booming business. Heck we all have examples of that in our own life. But there’s a difference between remembering an earlier time, and living in the rear view mirror. There’s a reason the windshield in front of you when you drive is so much larger than the rear view mirrors to see what’s behind you. You need to be able to look back for reference but be focused on what’s ahead.

How many of you have photos of your ex saved on your phone? Text messages, screenshots, old sweatshirts, cards, things of sentiment from someone who broke your heart? How many of you have those things after you have moved on with someone new in your life? Or after you married someone else? How many of you use every opportunity of #tbt or #fbf to show off on social media how good you used to look, or how successful you used to be? How many of you find yourself constantly thinking and dwelling on things of the past? Constantly replaying that game winning touchdown. Constantly reliving the good times and shared memories with your ex. Constantly putting yourself through a state of wanting to go back.

Friends, you are worth so much more. We all have times we cherished, people we loved, and moments that shaped us. But stop looking back. Delete the photos, erase the screenshots, block their number, throw out things that no longer fit, start a new photo album, make a vision board, and start looking at the blessings before you and the road ahead.

I used to find myself doing that a lot. Pining for who I used to be or the life I used to live. I used to scroll through thousands of photos wishing I could go back. Either to a certain person or a certain place or a certain time. I would constantly compare my body now to my body when I was a collegiate runner. I would always look at the relationship I once had and think I’ll never find that again. I would think about the things I could have or should have done differently. I was constantly looking back. And you know what? It took away from the blessings God was giving me in the present. It took away from the people God had given me in the moment. It took away from the opportunity and the experience right in front of me.

One of the things that has reignited the most joy in my heart has been simplifying my life and reflecting on all that I have. Most days I try to start or end the day with “10 Good Things.” Either 10 things that happened today or 10 things I am currently grateful for. Shifting our focus to be present and thankful for what we have excites joy and gratitude in our hearts. I started to work towards new running goals, new lifting goals, new body image goals rather than comparing myself to who I was before. The difference has been huge. I enjoy my training. I look forward to it because rather than feel defeated for not being as good as I was, I can celebrate small victories of how far I have recently come. I’m not anywhere near as fast or as lean as I once was, but I enjoy running and can rejoice over newfound prs. Running a half marathon after 3 years of bulking and lifting and eating disorders and struggles – and actually enjoying most of it, was a huge victory in my book.

My passion and fervor for the Lord, the love I feel for the man my life has been blessed with, the beautiful home and awesome Jeep I get to revel in, all of these blessings that I could easily overlook – I am trying to intentionally celebrate every single day. I can look back and be grateful for the events, relationships, accomplishments, and journey that shaped me, without being focused there. I can smile knowing that back then was great, but what lies ahead is even better.

Friends, let’s stop being so focused on the rear view that we miss out on the scenery in front of us. Reflection is a beautiful thing. Life is a journey, it’s a ride. The path ain’t always straight, the road ain’t always clear. But what lies ahead is so much better than what you leave behind.

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