Looking Back to Look Forward
Do you find it hard, at times, to move forward? Do prior experiences disconnect from your present realities? Do you long for the past to make sense? I admit, I can view previous year’s experiences as distractions that tip-toe around to derail my present life. My mind frequently shadows back and asks why? And to my surprise, gazes into my past give answers to my right now moments.
Moving into the new year doesn’t mean forgetting about the previous year. Too many of us immediately wipe the 2021 calendar clean and rush into 2022. But 2021 is part of our story. Many of us shed tears, sang songs, enjoyed friendships, and held family close. We’ve also recorded in journals about the wonders God has performed.
Choosing to remember and reflect on previous life experiences connects us to our current realities.
God often calls His people to remember, “Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered” (1 Chronicles 16:12).
God gives us glimpses into hard areas of our lives when we look at our past. We begin to understand how His sovereign hand brought us out of difficult places. We must remember this. We must record it.
What do you see when looking back? Do you smell the aroma from your grandmother’s kitchen? Do remember the death of a loved one? Some of us remember the joys associated with good memories. Some remember the pain associated with rejection, abandonment, or abuse.
Looking back can bring pain; however, God heals to bring forth present and future victories.
Old Testament and New Testament Connection
In the first chapter of the first book of the New Testament, Matthew connects Israel’s past to its present. He makes this connection to remind them they were slaves in Egypt, and they have been delivered by God, “So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations” (Matthew 1:17).
Matthew also records the genealogy of Jesus in the first book, the first chapter, and the opening scene of the New Testament. Matthew shares the lineage of Jesus beginning with Abraham. He chronicles the matriarchs and patriarchs to remind the Jews of who they are and where they come from. This chronicle of Christ’s lineage gives them hope in the New Covenant. This connection assures a past that gives way to a future. As Israel remembers the miracles, and wonders of the past, we too have a hope in a glorious future with Christ.
Looking at the Present
Present victories often come from looking back. Live in the present and take time to breathe in every moment. Pay attention to your emotions. I find inspiration from reading old journals because they allow me to look back and see how far I’ve come. I don’t stay long or worry about what happened in the past. Yet I am thankful my past has propelled me to where I am today, because a hurtful past can result in a healed heart.
You have many stories intersecting year after year from the pages of your life. Be intentional to record these events in a journal. Be encouraged to write from your current reality, and next year you’ll see another God-breathed chapter.
Your past experiences have prepared you for today. When you look back at the memories, know God uses them for good. Learn and grow from them.
What I’ve learned from journaling about past events:
- Clarity on an issue to move forward
- Trusting God with long and difficult relationships
- Finding inspiration from difficult times
- Remembering God’s faithfulness
- Past experiences push toward future goals
As I move into the year 2022, I glance back to a year lived well. A year meant to propel me forward. A year filled with joys and sorrows. A year written on the pages of my journal. And a year that will always be a chapter in my story.