I have a past. We all do. I’m far from perfect and my past is full of good choices and bad choices. For the longest time I would stew on all of the ways I could have done better, things I should have done or shouldn’t have said. I lived with so much guilt and pressure in my day to day because I couldn’t let go of anything, and as a direct result of that I struggled with anxiety, depression and anger.
Isaiah 43:18 – “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness, and streams in the wasteland.”
God began to make streams in the wastelands of my past. I had to understand that, much like a car, I had a rearview mirror in my life, I could look into it anytime I wanted and for some things, such as a learning aid, it is beneficial to look into that mirror but to dwell on it, only meant that I couldn’t move forward with the rest of my life.
The Benefits of a Rearview
The Reality of the Rearview
You Have Right Now
“Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the “present” so unwrap it and enjoy it.”
This is easier said than done for some of us, and I know this first hand since I happen to be a STRONG futuristic thinker/planner with a “let’s get it done quick!” undertone and a side of “success is determined by your level of preparedness!” on a platter. I moved so quick, and planned so far ahead that as I was doing one thing, I’d be thinking of the next five things that were going to happen after it was over. I spent my free time scrapbooking, not because I love to scrapbook so much as I wanted to take the time to look at the pictures, and enjoy the memory of being in the moment, since I wasn’t in the moment at the time. It was quite sad really, I realized that was living my life in pictures and not in real time. I knew that I was wired this way for a reason, but I felt God calling me to get some balance in my life and learn to use these gifts to be a blessing to myself, others and for the Kingdom.
One of the most intensely painful but most cherished lessons God has taught me is to slow down, s l o w d o w n, s l-l-o-o-o-o-o-w-w-w down, breathe in each moment, and really be alive. I know you’re thinking, why would that be painful? but understand that I was used to doing everything at the speed of light, buzzing around from one task to another, getting every little thing checked off my list. I spent a lot of time being impatient, flustered and nervous. In addition to that I spent a lot of time beating myself up for past words, actions, choices, behaviors and so on because I so badly wanted to have everything running smoothly and perfectly. So in all honesty, to force myself to just slow down and appreciate each moment was really tough for me.
So it began that each day I would get this nagging feeling to just move slower, talk slower, react slower. Even when I would fold laundry, I would feel that pressing feeling to slow each fold down, take note of the shirt I was folding, which child it belonged to, noting how big they’ve grown, the memory of the ice cream stain that was on it, etc. In the mornings when I would sit outside on the bench reading my Bible, I would take the time to read and re-read a verse over and over again, I would write down my surroundings; the colors, noises, activity. I remember one morning about 2 months into this process, a hummingbird flew up to the porch where I was sitting, he was looking in the hanging flower baskets for some breakfast I assume, anyway I put my hands in my lap and sat very still, watching him, and he got so close to me that at one point I closed my eyes and I could feel the wind from his wings blowing lightly on my face. It was so precious that it brought tears to my eyes, and it was then that I truly understood all that I was missing in my day to day by rushing through everything. This may sound silly but I learned to really listen to what my kids were saying to me, I’d kneel down and look them in the eye, and I would just be amazed at how much I loved each of them.
The biggest lesson I learned from the “slow season” was that I didn’t have to wrestle over my past, it didn’t define my today or my tomorrow, Jesus had already covered all of it, forgiven it all, and separated it from my life. So I let it go, found my identity in who God said I am and decided to live each day deeper and with more purpose, to truly be ALIVE!
Habakkuk 2:4b (MSG) “But the person in right standing before God, through loyal and steady believing, is fully alive, really alive.”
This applies to not just your personal life, but your marriage, parenting, friendships, and family relationships as well. Quit living in, and bringing up the past, put it behind you and keep moving forward.
If you struggle with where you are because you haven’t given up your past, I understand, I’ve been there in my own unique way. God has better for you, you have so much more life to live than the emptiness that your past can offer. You cannot expect to effectively move forward in your journey if you’re living in the rearview mirror!
Battlefield of the Mind – Joyce Meyer
Victory Over the Darkness – Neil T. Anderson
Your Best Life Now – Joel Osteen
Eight Ways to Keep the Devil Under Your Feet – Joyce Meyer
Overcoming Hurts and Anger – Carlson