I’ve been told not to dwell on the past. Yet, there are things in the past that I do not want to forget. Isn’t that true for everyone? There are definitely situations or events in my past that I can’t help but remember; they are imprinted upon me and have shaped my character.
Some of those things have hurt me in some way and can still cause me pain and sadness, but I cannot just forget them, no matter how hard I try. What I realized today as I spent some time in quiet reflection is that in remembering those things, I can note how I survived them and overcame them. Remembering them, but not dwelling on them or staying hooked to the past, is the only way I can remember the way the past has actually helped me along in my life.
I developed some strategies for managing some of the situations from my past that have proven to be ineffective or obsolete for living in the present. Knowing that means I can choose different strategies now. In remembering my past, I can see when and how God moved in my life to bring me through each situation. I can also see how my character developed into what God wanted for me as I figured out ways to overcome the difficulties.
God wants us to remember how He provides for us, how He worked to bring us through trying situations, and how He has protected us. It’s in remembering the past and recognizing God’s role in it that I can move confidently forward. It’s in recognizing God’s provisions for dealing with hardships of the past that I see the character of God and can better worship Him now.
This is what the writer of Psalm 78 was trying to do for the people of Israel. The Psalmist explains this purpose in Psalm 78:4:
will not hide these truths from our children;
we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
about his power and his mighty wonders. (New Living Translation)
The Israelites were to tell their children about the hard truths of the past and then told to see how God did glorious deeds to help them out (the rest of the Psalm goes on to call to mind the story of Israel’s miraculous exodus from Egypt). We, too, should remember the past with the intent of noticing God’s great works in our lives.
In Alcoholics Anonymous there is a list of promises that can be seen coming true in the life of recovering alcoholics. Two of those promises say,·
- We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
- We will comprehend the word serenity, and we will know peace.
As I work to move ahead in this present life, I remember the past and note how God has supplied ample serenity and peace even in the hardest times in my life. As you remember. As you remember your past, may your reflections show you the mighty ways God has moved in your life and give you cause to praise.