Living in the Rearview Mirror

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

  • Perspective –  There are times in our lives when we will get down in the pit because we see ourselves for what we do and don’t do, instead of seeing ourselves for who we are, and because of that we are often tempted to beat ourselves up and feel as if there is just too much “fixing” that needs to be done in order to feel peaceful.  The rearview of your life often times can give you a paradigm shift so that you can remember this:  “You may not be where you want to be, but thank God you aren’t where you use to be!”
  • Hindsight is always 20/20 – Use your past to learn and grow.  When you fail, fail forward to success by learning from mistakes, victories and life lessons.
  • Level with Yourself – Just as you can adjust your mirror in the car to look yourself straight in those beautiful eyes, look your past right in the eyes and be reminded of your worth and value.  God loves you so much that He’s worked to call you out of your old self,  build you up and seat you in a place of honor, to comfort you, to assure you that you are a treasure to Him and to use your gifts AND YOUR PAST to help others.

The Reality of the Rearview

  • You can’t change it!  Stop trying to go back there, you cannot change where you came from, you can only seek to move forward and change where you end up!
  • You Risk a Crash! – If you drive while looking into the rearview mirror, you risk a major wreck, since you cannot focus on what’s behind you and what’s in front of you at the same time, so the only way to successfully, consistently focus on the past is to put your life in “park”.  Remember, you are going to have to choose what you give your energy and attention to, and if it’s constantly dwelling on what’s behind you, chances are you’ll be stuck in a rut without making any forward progress, so put it in drive, switch your focus, and move onward and upward!!
  • You’ll Always Have One –  Just as a rearview mirror is installed in every automobile, so it is for each and every one of us, we have a past and we always will, each new day you wake up, your past just got bigger.  Do you ever have those moments when something really random will pop into your head from your past that you really wish you could just forget?  Those are the tapes that we play over and over again in our minds, and the devil loves to press play on those tapes to keep us from realizing our potential and our future.  Since you cannot erase what’s happened in the past, you have to learn to combat your thoughts and renew your thinking, speaking and actions. Romans 12:2 says to “..be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  and the first and foremost way to do this is God’s word; it is LIFE to all who consume it.  In addition to that,  I have included a few books on the list below to help with the battle of the mind, I highly recommend reading one or all of them!  And remember….   “Every time the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future!”

 

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!

Be blessed!

Rheanna

Book List:

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

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