By Reba Phelps
Early one morning while leaving the house to take my 12-year-old to school we were verbally rehearsing the day ahead of us. You have a Student Council meeting this morning. Your father will pick you up from school and deliver you promptly to Natchitoches Flipping Athletics. After the gym you will have a volleyball game. Being the polite child that she is, she asked me what all I had planned for my day. Not wanting to bore her with the adult-like details that would take place during that day I merely replied, “My plan is to leave my office at 5:00 and not look back.”
For days on end I had been working somewhat late. I always tell myself I can get a days worth of work done from 5:00 to 6:00 in the evening. There are zero interruptions and I can fully focus on the work at hand. Confession, I love working late and sometimes when I get home I continue with emails and such. I have always looked back over the day when I get home.
However, this particular day I was more interested in leaving on time to enjoy the evening with my daughter. I was leaving the office on time and not looking back.
As soon as I mentioned my intentions of not looking back my clever and well meaning daughter said, “If you decide to look back you will turn into a pillar of salt.”
Who knew this child actually listens in church while she doodles on everything she can get her hands on.
Being the lover of good humor and cleverness that I am, I complimented her combination use of biblical humor with a real life scenario.
After I dropped her off at school I continued to be amused at what she said but it also began to sink in what actually happens when we look back. Of course there are many scenarios in life where we look back with fond memories and it brings a generous smile to our face. The birth of a child is always a precious memory to revisit. When they move out and leave for college it is natural to look back over their childhood. The looking back becomes dangerous when it alters our day or our mood on a routine basis. It also becomes a hinderance when we cannot fully function in the present.
Truth is we can never relive the time we are longing for.
Sometimes we live in the past because it is familiar to us. We know how the story ends. It is simple, comfortable and is ingrained in our spirit. Most of the time when we live in the past and look back it is for sentimental reasons.
The most hurtful way to live in the past is to live with regrets, hurt and unwillingness to forgive and forget. Our thoughts are our most precious components to our mental well being. Once we learn to control our negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts then we can begin a path of healing. We can actually have hope for the future.
Although we are so blessed that we no longer turn into a pillar of salt for looking back and living in the past it still has its consequences. I don’t think that God ever intended for us to set up camp in what used to be. There are so many moments in the here and now that we are missing when we choose to live otherwise. There are so many new memories just waiting to be made that we do not want to miss the promise of our future.
I picked up my daughter that day early just as I had promised. When she got in the car I couldn’t help but remind her of the hilarious thing she had just said that morning. As mother who loves good humor I wanted to relive that moment. She looked at me and asked, “Why are you living in the past?”
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”