Looking Back to Yesterday

Barbara Lighthizer

If we keep our eyes focused on the rearview mirror while driving, it will be only a matter of time before we have a disastrous crash. Farmers would have a dreadful time planting a crop if they plowed while looking back to see where they have been. Teachers insist that children keep their eyes on them as they are giving instructions. Every phase of our life requires our attention to what is happening now so that we can progress with safety and wisdom and be on target.

olderwomanfaceSpending too much time reminiscing about the past is a part of aging and is particularly a struggle if we are single.

Some time spent remembering our younger years and the joys of marriage and raising children is wonderful, and we can praise the Lord again for the many blessings He has given our families. If we are not careful, however, we can easily slip into memories of the painful times of divorce, deception, death, and loneliness, which will bring depression and can rekindle resentment. We know that this is not pleasing to God, and it will destroy our joy and peace of mind.

Hurtful situations have touched all of our lives at some point, and many of us have made foolish and sinful decisions which brought grief to people we love and to ourselves. As Christians, we ask the Lord for forgiveness and we are assured that our sin has been forgiven. The Lord promises to remember it against us no more (Hebrews 8:12), but Satan is happy to dangle the memories in front of us--if we allow him to do so.

The Future Holds Something New

The Lord tells us, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past" (Isaiah 43:18, NIV).

Paul also spoke of forgetting the past and working toward the future (Philippians 3:13, NIV). Pondering our sins, failures, and wasted opportunities has no value. Hopefully, we have learned our lessons and have determined, with God's help, not to repeat them.

Polly has to fight depression, especially in the dreary days of winter. She knows that she is more susceptible to negative memories during these months. A good brisk walk does wonders for her attitude and outlook. If it is too stormy outside, she walks around her living room, dining room, and kitchen for 45 minutes. "My carpet looks a little worn in the area of my indoor hike, but who cares. I get a good walk, my bones are getting stronger, and I feel better able to focus on an activity that will not remind me of sad times," Polly shares.

Keeping active is a great deterrent against hurtful memories. There are many positive actions that we might consider adding to our daily schedule, such as:

  • Praising the Lord during the day.
  • Allowing time for a relaxing hobby or activity.
  • Volunteering at our church or local school.
  • Avoiding TV shows that deal with distressing topics.
  • Reading good books.

Every moment we have is a precious gift from our Lord, and we cannot redeem one second of our past. Wasting the time we have now in grieving for what was or what might have been is a terrible waste of time. We cannot serve the Lord effectively today with our eyes focused on yesterday.