When You’re Tempted to Look Back…

Early this morning I drove the familiar rolling road, passing by a cattle ranch on the way home. The cattle had thick dustings of snow on their backs, and they huddled together near the barn rather than lazing around a nearby Maple as they prefer to do on warmer days.

It’s March 10. It’s customary for this area to be rid of all snow by the end of this month, but as I looked around at heaps of white stuff, I realized this will be an unordinary winter. And then, I wondered why I ever expect winters to be the same. All this ran through my mind as I contemplated various seasons in life…including the seasons of my life.

Being solidly in mid-life, I can look back on several times and seasons, and there are definitely some that are favored above others. Admittedly, I even have an actual favorite. And because I’ll bare my soul a bit, I’ll also admit that at times I have wished I was still that woman from a different season. In times of discouragement, I’ve been tempted to think she had more energy and zeal, and was more joyful and carefree. She seemed to be more creative and brave….and to put herself out there to take risks more. She seemed, in some ways, to even have more faith.

But today, when that thought popped into my mind, I felt repulsed. “How….could I even entertain such a thought,” I prayed, “when You’ve grown me so much….when You’ve brought me through so much? I’ve experienced so many new things….and learned so much more….how could I ever want to erase all that?” It hit me. The attributes I admire in that woman would also come with a whole host of immaturity and lack of experience. I appreciate her (the previous me) for who she was, and for that particularly glorious season she was so blessed to experience and live. But I don’t want to be her again. I’ve come too far, and not because of me, but because of Him.

We tend to easily remember all the good things, and that is a mercy. When we think more deeply, however, we remember unpleasant things, like all the things we didn’t know at the time, and how we would do many things differently now. We remember that to go back to another time would be to erase all we’ve learned and the ways we’ve grown since then. We can’t have both the youthful zeal and the wisdom gained and lessons learned over time.

That girl (My Southern friends would say, “Bless her heart”,) she didn’t know what she didn’t know. And I am so incredibly thankful to be on the other side of the lessons learned. My hope is that in years to come, I’ll look back on this present season and say the same. Because, as you and I both know, there’s always more ways needed to grow.

Youthful zeal? Sure, I’m older, but I still do have a great deal of passion. Experience has honed it to be more calculated, perhaps, and I think more strategically put to use. More joyful and carefree? My joy has matured into a deeper sense of fulfillment, coupled with peace. I have many more cares because I know more about myself and the world, but I know exactly Whose feet to lay them down at…and I’ve had a lot more practice with that. And as for having more faith? That is just flat-out untrue. It takes more faith than ever to live through my days in my present season. More is required, and while I’m not pursuing an international adoption, ministering to expectant couples, or moving across the continent at present, the earlier version of me would buckle at the level of trust that is needed in my life right now. So you see? If I take a deeper look, I realize I was longing for things that were only a shadow of my current season’s reality.

Seasons were not designed to hold onto–not in nature, not in our lives. They gracefully turn from one to the next, in their own time….or more accurately, in His own time. And so it will remain until the end of days.

“While the earth remains, there will be seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22 ESV)

So today, or any other day, if you’re inclined to think back on your former season of life and you think you like your then-self better than who you are now, take a more honest look. Remember to look at the whole picture. Imagine your then-self, but erase all the experiences and growth you’ve had since then. Would you really want to go back there?

Life seasons differ from nature in that many will never return, though some do seem to come ’round again. But as in nature, they will never be exactly as they were before. One summer or winter is never exactly like any other. So hold loosely and enjoy every detail of your present season. When a season ends, let go gracefully so you are free to receive what’s next. Don’t cry that a previous season is over, but marvel that it was. Remember the best is coming if we are abiding in Him and cooperating with His sanctification in us. There will never be another season like the present; He is accomplishing more than we know, so let’s also look forward with expectant hope to what the future holds.

One thought on “When You’re Tempted to Look Back…

  1. What a great reminder and so true! Ecclesiastes 3. The perspective of enjoyment of an earlier season while lacking the wisdom & experiences gained through time, makes one feel so blessed to have both in the present time. I was so happy to see this NEW blog entry in my email this morning. You have such a gift of storytelling, sharing life’s experiences in which we all can relate to. More please! 😉


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