Another walk with Violet, another illustration on life. Violet, I’m sure most of you know by now, is our Goldendoodle. Unless it is a downpour, my wife Betsy and I take her for a 1.5 mile walk every morning.
Violet, in my somewhat jaded opinion, is simply the best dog ever. She is everything I could hope for in a pet: a wonderful disposition, smart and non-shedding (those of you who have had Basset Hounds know how good this can be!) All in all, Vi is very low maintenance.
This is not to say that she has no faults at all. Her need to have absolutely everything (wind velocity and direction along with proper barometric pressure) in order so she can go number 2 can be frustrating. The other quirk my dog exhibits is the inspiration for this post: Violet frequently (and for no apparent reason) will whip her head around to look behind while continuing to walk forward. This peculiar behavior has caused her to walk into more than one car bumper on our strolls.
Being one who talks to the dog like she’s human, I have tried to explain to Violet that life is happening in front of, not behind, her. If she would only stop looking back so much I tell her, she could avoid the painful bumps on her skull. While my discussions on this point have revealed little change in Vi’s frequent over-the-shoulder glances, I have been trying to apply this same principle to my life.
One of the teachings from 12 Step recovery says that we do not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. (From AA’s Big Book.) Simply stated, this tells me to learn from my past mistakes to reduce the likelihood of repeating them. To shut out all the memories from my dark past, then, would be a mistake, less I forget the lessons I have now gleaned from them.
For the most part, I have had success with this. By keeping some of the pain I caused in my consciousness, I am reminded daily of the devastation I am capable of but certainly do not want to inflict or go through again.
However, there are certain events or conversations, no matter how old they are, that will still pop up in my head, trying to gain my full attention. Things that I thought I had dealt with will seemingly be there out of blue. Hurts, both real and imagined, will come swimming to the forefront of my thoughts. These tend to keep my focus on things past rather than on what is in front of me.
Most of the time, I realize that these random intrusions are just that, random. Part of not shutting the door on the past does make it possible for other things kept back there to want to creep out. Staying aware of this happening often allows me to quickly put them back in their proper place.
When I do not quickly put these thoughts back into the past however, if I decide to linger over them, I risk joining Violet in bumping into something right in front of me because my focus was on what I thought might be behind me.
Like Vi, I need to remind myself that life is currently happening in front of me, not behind. If I will but properly use and learn from the experiences of my past, I can usually avoid bumping my head when I did not have to.
Life’s joys, challenges and yes, mundane daily occurrences are all happening before my eyes. Things to enjoy, challenges to be met and rote things to be done can all be further experiences to help me learn and grow in this life. But I must face them all, head on, without spending undue time trying to walk forward while staring backward.
Like most opportunities to learn, this one is a process for me. There are times when I wonder how I could have ever stumbled by looking back, and there are times when I wonder if I will ever get my focus back to where it needs to be.
God, in His mercy, is always ready to guide me back into His light. He will minister to my heart regarding those things in the past that vie for attention when they have already been forgiven by Him. When I live this out, I avoid many unpleasant bumps to my noggin.
As for Violet, I guess I will just have to be diligent for her as I remind myself that some of her lumps on the head have helped me avoid some of my own!
How about you? I’d love to hear how you have dealt/deal with the thoughts of the past as you try to navigate the present.
Be blessed and be a blessing,
6 thoughts on “Life is Happening in Front of, not Behind You”
I love this for so many reasons. I’m a big fan of AA. As a child I also used to bump into many things – lamp-posts and people mostly I recall! That was because I was usually looking at my feet, rather than behind me. I might still do that in a metaphorical sense too! Not shutting the door on the past is, as you say, sometimes precarious, but those lessons take a long time to learn and shutting it all out means we miss many lessons and the blessings of understanding. I still am triggered by the inner-critic and images of shame, that I spent futile years trying to drown… but now I can see, hear and give it to the Lord. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, GUARDS my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Blessings.
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Amen! As always, I appreciate you and your time to read and respond. Blessings!
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Smiled at talking to your dog 🙂
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I love how God uses our pets (& our children) to teach us important lessons. I talk to my kitties like they are people too! 🐕🐈
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I need this message again and again and again. I struggle with my past, past decisions, past relationships, etc. God has been working and working on me, and even though I am not totally “there” yet, I am so far from where I was just a few years ago. I like Dawn am learning to turn it over to God and let Him heal and transform and teach me. And GREAT advice from 12 steps: “we do not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” I feel like I do both, regret it and when I’m not regretting it, I’m suppressing it and trying to forget it. You shed light on the beauty of using our past to guide us ahead and also to keep us remembering how much we need Jesus. Thank you Pastor Chuck!
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As always Vanessa, I appreciate your transparency. I think most, I know I do, still struggle with letting go of the past. When I get into that place, I have taken my focus off of the Lord Jesus and placed it instead on me. It is selfish and self-defeating, but I go back there time and time again. Has God worked in me to help me with the wreckage of the past? Absolutely. When I get to this preferred place, my focus is on Him and I realize (again) how much I need Him daily.
You are a blessing my friend,