Rudyard Kipling, in his book Bridge Building, says, “Never look backward, or you’ll fall down the stairs.” This statement, in the context of his book, inspires serious philosophical and existential questions related to the duality between science and the spiritual. Still, it also evokes a fear of looking back at where so much of life has happened and so much has been learned.
The relentless question of “Who Am I?” begs to be answered in light of your past experiences. We are a product of our past experiences; they color how we perceive ourselves, others, and God. Our ability to move forward and look ahead can be crippled if we look back in fear and trepidation. So I prefer to learn from George Washington’s perspective on looking back: “We ought not to look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.”
We all have chapters in our lives where we would like to rip the pages out and incinerate them. But that does not erase the pain and trauma of that season. Nothing erases trauma – but trauma properly processed leads to healing and wholeness. The new trauma-informed you can become a powerhouse of knowledge based on personal experience. This experience can destroy you if you allow it. Or it can transform you into a force to contend with. This trauma can be used to change the lives of others within your sphere of influence.
When confronted by the unknown, we seek to regain control, even if only in our minds. Our thoughts find themselves on the runway to nowhere and everywhere, all at once. We contemplate flight – but no matter what destination we choose, it is either a destination we dread or one that is unknown. We are faced with reality – we do not get to choose the destination, but we do get to adjust our thoughts and remind ourselves that we are invited on this journey as passengers. We are neither in the cockpit nor are we in the control tower. Yet, when we stepped on that plane, we made a statement of trust; we placed our confidence in the master navigator and pilot.
Trusting is a decision and a choice. We choose to “Trust in the Lord with all our hearts.” Embrace the favor of the Lord!
Do not delude yourself into thinking you can be whatever you want; even a person with the strongest will does not have the power to determine their future. That power rests with an Almighty God – the Author of life. Whether you believe in Him or not does not change the reality of His existence and omnipotence. Choose to follow His calling because that is where your will and His power work in concert to produce the most beautifully orchestrated chapters in your life.
No. Do not rip out those painful pages. Let them govern the trajectory of the remaining chapters in your life. Let them be the fuel that keeps you fighting for victory after victory. Pain along the way is a natural corollary of life. Let it mold you, not distort you.
Keep filling the chapters with stories of God’s continued grace and favor. Focus on your healing and restoring the balance your trauma-focused brain would not allow you to achieve.
As you move into the new year, please look back – regret, pain, trauma, grief, devastation – all of those may well be what you see. Acknowledge them. Release them. Continue to fight the daily battle not to let them overwhelm you or the calling God has placed on your life. Fight the good fight. Run a good race. Keep moving forward fueled by the lessons learned from the past – victories, triumphs, despair, desperation, sadness, wishful thinking, excruciating pain. They all have a place in your memory bank and emotional cache. Their purpose, however, is not to hinder you but rather propel you into your God-ordained future with no holds-barred.
March on, warrior! God is in your story – no matter how painful or devastating.
“The favor of the Lord has established YOU as a strong mountain.”