We have all been told that from time to time. It’s important to keep our eyes focused on what is right ahead of us, especially when walking or driving. Otherwise, we may walk into a wall or step out in front of a car. Or we just may drive off the side of a cliff. It’s also prudent to look ahead and make plans for our lives. However, once in awhile it is wise to pause and take a look backwards—to reflect on where we have come from and where we have been. Most of us are easily consumed by forging ahead into the future, failing to pause and reflect on the journey thus far.
In the Old Testament, God told the Israelites to build a memorial of stones to help them and their children look back and remember God’s faithfulness in parting the Jordon River for their safe passage. (Read Joshua 4:4-7.) It may not be necessary for each of us to build a literal memorial or to make sure others understand our passage through the past year. Nevertheless, before we attempt to move forward, we would all do well to remember where we’ve been in the past twelve months.
What challenges have we overcome?As I look back on my year, I am grateful that I finally got over a cough that lasted nearly two months. I remember the scare with my dad’s heart attack and subsequent quadruple heart by-pass. I’m thankful he survived and regained his overall health. I recall the heart-wrenching good-byes to a daughter, her husband, and three little grandchildren as they left for Bosnia. Somehow I survived. I especially remember the handful of friends who mourned my loss with me. How I treasure their comfort and support!
What difficulties and losses did we face?
What prayers were answered?
What relationships were strengthened?
What new friendships were forged?
What books were read? Was one of them a particular blessing?
What new things did we try?
What lessons did we learn?
What memories were made?
What guests passed through our doors?
Who befriended or encouraged us?
What projects were started? Completed?
Where there unexpected blessings or kindnesses that came our way?
I learned how to use a digital camera and write a blog. I delight in the memory of the extraordinary wild flowers near Steamboat Springs. I reflect on my joy over the announcement that a new grandbaby was on its way. I think of the few articles that were published and the exciting opportunity to write devotionals for a Bible that will be out later this year. I recall with joy the trip my husband and I made to Bosnia to see our far-away family and celebrate two birthdays while there. I think of the time Alicia and I spent on a couple sewing projects. How fun to pass on what I know about the art of sewing to another generation.
Yes, memory by memory, I figuratively build my own memorial of where I’ve been. I attest to God’s faithfulness, affirm my resilience and growth, and extend compassion to myself for the difficult days. In doing this, I am then ready to look forward—to anticipate the journey of a new year.
Have you taken the time to look in the rear-view mirror or glance over your shoulder at the past 365 days? Take a few moments to ponder the past year before pushing full steam ahead into the coming year.
*Note: Yes, I suppose this should have come before my last post! But I guess I am a little backwards in my thought processes of late.
(c) 2006 Marlene Depler