it’s okay to look back – just figure out why

Have you ever found yourself feeling a little stuck?

Somehow, you aren’t moving forward or backward. There’s no momentum, no shift, no progress. In this place, we have a choice to decide where our vision goes, don’t we?

But I would venture to guess that most of us believe that we only have two choices when we get here: we either look forward or backward, right? Wrong.

Let me tell you where this thought process started.

I hate traffic, y’all. I know everyone hates traffic. This isn’t unique. But more than simply traffic, I hate meaningless traffic. A few weeks ago, I was on my way home from one of our church campuses which is about thirty-five minutes away. I had been driving like, eight minutes, and took the turn onto the highway which brings me to a little bridge over a dam. And right away, the cars in front of me are stopped. What is worse than being stuck in traffic on a bridge? Not a lot. I was irritated, but honestly, was hoping that there wasn’t a bad accident. I don’t know how long I sat there. It wasn’t terrible, but it was long enough. And once the momentum begins to move forward enough, I see it. THE ACCIDENT WAS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BRIDGE. I can’t. I can’t deal. Fifty cars were slowed down because of our human need to see what was happening on the other side that didn’t even affect us. There’s a special term for this. It’s called rubbernecking. Why, you ask? I don’t know.

I looked up the definition for rubbernecking and it was even worse than I thought. Different dictionaries literally use the words “stupid” and “foolish” to describe it. In fact, the Cambridge Dictionary’s definition is this: “the activity of looking at something in a stupid way.” Stop it. Rubbernecking does more damage than just slow down your commute; it actually causes more accidents.

The Bible speaks to this, and it’s for our benefit.

“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.

Do not turn to the right or to the left; keep your foot from evil.” [Proverbs 4:25-27]

I’ve been in a strange place lately. As a full-time mom, no one talks about how to adjust when your kids are in school full time. I remember when I was working, I completely judged these moms. What could they possibly do all day!? They have eight hours to just do whatever they want. I know better now. I am not bored with my time in any way. As I began to process that I was in a new chapter in my life, I subconsciously began to evaluate my performance over the past seven years. Without even realizing the narrative I was creating, I began to feel things like guilt and regret. Did I spend enough time being present? Did I make the most of that time?

It didn’t help that last week, all of my TikTok and Instagram feeds were literally inundated with an audio that begins with, “You have little kids for four years. That’s it. Once that time is done, you never get it back.” I didn’t even listen to whatever the rest of the sound said. Because my kids were past that time now, and it was aiding to my guilt.

I shared these things with my therapist, who put words to my questions. She helped me see that I was evaluating myself as if I were my own boss, and she asked me, “Has this been helpful for you?”

I took time to pause as I always do, and replied, “Well… no, I guess not.”

We began to talk about how guilt and shame simply aren’t a part of God’s process.

We are doing this kind of thing all the time, aren’t we?

We are looking backward, full of regret and shame for how we acted, what we did, why we made the choices we made. We are looking side to side, getting so distracted that it’s slowing us down and causing us to be stuck instead of present.

Did you happen to catch the little words that were printed on the picture for this post? They’re printed on the side mirror of your car, too. “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” In other words, in the rearview, everything looks a little bigger. Our mistakes feel bigger. Our missed opportunities feel weightier. The lost time seems so massive. Hindsight doesn’t always have perfect vision. At times, it’s blown out of proportion.

We don’t gain anything in this space.

But there is one reason to look back, and only one.

It is to remember God’s faithfulness.

“With my whole heart, with my whole life, and with my inmost being, I bow in wonder and love before you, the holy God! Yahweh, you are my soul’s celebration. How could I ever forget the miracles of kindness you’ve done for me?” [Psalm 103:1-2 TPT]

“Once again I’ll go over what God has done, lay out on the table the ancient wonders; I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished, and give a long, loving look at your acts.” [Psalm 77:11-12 MSG]

Where have you been looking?

Are you so focused on what’s happening around you; what others have and you don’t? It will absolutely pause you from moving forward.

Are you living in the regret of your past? Allow God into that space today. What does He want to say about it? How did you see Him move during those times to bring you where you are now?

Fortunately for us, God is in it all. He’s in our past, He’s in the here and now, and He’s in the glorious future. We can’t escape Him no matter where our eyes are focused; but we can allow Him to escape our notice.

Fix your eyes on Jesus – whether behind or in front of you.

The best way to end this post today is with a section of Psalm 139, and (shocker) I’ll be sharing it from The Passion Translation. Fix your eyes on Him, and let this truth plant you wherever you find yourself on the road.

You perceive every moment of my heart and soul,

and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.

You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.

You read my heart like an open book and know all the words I’m about to speak even before I start a sentence!

You know every step before my journey even begins.

You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past.

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