It’s so easy for me to look behind me. To look at past experiences and conversations and replay them in my mind, wishing something had gone different, or yearning to relive a special moment. Looking back can be euphoric, but it can also become obsessive and drag me down. I’m sure we all look back and replay regretful situations until the outcome is what we would prefer. I look back with regrets, in not having been brave, in not taking risks. I’ve lived a very comfortable life, a safe life, and I sometimes beat myself up because of it.
In recent months, my looking back has been a reflection of time passing me by. It’s been centered around feelings of being left out, of being left behind, of riding straight through a stage in life where others stop to find love and grow familes. Through this time of moving through my struggles, the Lord has shown me the word ‘forward.’ Move forward. Look forward. Look to Him for life and love. God holds my past, but I don’t have to live there and constantly look back at it. It’s ok to stop and rest and reflect and be, but even if I’m not physically moving forward, I can still LOOK forward.
It’s hard to not turn around. Looking back sometimes warps my view of the past. I remember what I want to remember. I hold on to bliss-filled fuzzy thoughts, with a bit of fairy tale sprinkled in. My memories sometimes become what I want them to be, not what they actually were, and I am comfortable living there. But, when this happens, I stall. I miss reality. I’m not being present. My thoughts are directed inward and I live in a space inside myself.
This concept of not focusing forward happens in many aspects of my life. Conversations that didn’t go the way I wanted them to, situations I would have approached differently, things I held on to and should have let go of. Looking back brings up hard-on-myself feelings of having ‘not done it right’ and thoughts of how I should have approached a situation differently…better. Of course I would have done things differently. Looking back gives me 20/20 vision. I’ve taken the test and now have the answer key right in front of me. I can see where I messed up and what I would do differently next time. That doesn’t mean I have to keep reviewing the ‘right’ answers. That unit is over. The lesson is finished. It’s time to look forward, with new insights and experiences and more tools in my toolbelt than before.
Faith is moving forward even when things don’t make sense, trusting that in hindsight…..everything will become clear.
There’s something about facing forward that directs my eyes to look up and my posture to straighten. I anticipate what’s now and what’s next. Just holding a physical stance of looking up and out brings me optimism and peace. I live in the present and see God’s glorious gifts before me. No regrets. No wishing I could take back what I said…or didn’t say. What I did….or neglected to do. What’s in the past is done. It’s finished, and if need be, it’s been forgiven by our awesome God. I yearn to approach every day with this type of clarity. To carry with me memories of what was, but not turn around and be stuck there. Looking forward helps me live in a stance of ‘now’ and I don’t want to miss it.
For the life to which I was accustomed held me more than the life for which I really yearned.” – St. Augustine
A friend and I made a toast early in the new year. We toasted to unmitigated risk taking in 2013. This was a practice I carried over from 2012 when I had decided to become a bolder, braver version of myself. Risk. Moving out of my comfort zone; moving out of the routine; not continuing with the same old same old. I did and it was liberating. My risk taking hasn’t involved jumping out of an airplane or taking a hot-air balloon ride (although, these are two events that I must cross off my bucket list someday). Oh, but there was that mud run. A dirt-filled 5K + this girly girl = definite risk. No, my risk taking centers mostly on trusting others. Sharing who I truly am. The real me, without reservation.
Within the past year, I put my heart out there by telling a friend that I have deeper feelings for him than friendship. This was a huge risk because our friendship would forever change. It could fracture; it could blossom. It would certainly be different than before. It was a risk I wanted to take. I didn’t want things to remain the ‘same old same old.’ I wanted to tell him. I trusted him with who I am. I risked and things didn’t go my way. I have no regrets. God will always work my choices and circumstances for His glory. This experience, along with testing the waters of online dating, were two risks that helped me open up more to the opposite sex. I found online dating to be more reflection than risk. It always seemed so scary to me, when in actuality, with the light shining on it, became an outlet of self discovery. I would have missed this tremendous period of growth had I not risked.
Did I feel like I was in a bit of a rut and needed some excitement in my life? Did that prompt my sudden interest in risk taking? Perhaps. But, I’m not taking risks willy-nilly. I glean insight and direction from the Holy Spirit and move out of my comfort zone with faith-filled confidence. I run in the direction in which God leads. I am a different person today than I was a year ago. I have blossomed in confidence by allowing others in. It’s almost like I’ve uncovered another layer of myself. It’s a form of surrendering.
Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” – John 5:8
I believe that I’ve been my own inspiration for taking more risks. Taking a risk means making a change. Do I stay in the shade, or step out into the sunshine? Do I live in the sameness, or do I want to be set free? God doesn’t want me to stagnate. God is always on the move and He wants to take me with him. It’s necessary to move out of the familiar to grow and stretch and learn. I think I have always welcomed change and growth in school and work, but not in the areas of love and friendship. In those areas, I’ve always been cautious and timid, especially when it comes to sharing my personal life with others. I have a close circle of friends who know me….really know me. They know that I’m not this happy-100%-of-the-time-everything-is-perfect-in-her-life woman whom so many people believe me to be. I’m flawed; I’m broken; and I am humbled. But, I started opening up to more people several years ago and found that I learn so much from others when I share with them. The bond that forms from this shared trust is sacred. Taking risks by opening myself up to others has reaped beautiful blessings of deeper connections with others and within myself.
This blog is a risk. Yes, I hide behind some anonymity, and aside from a few close friends and family members, no one knows that it’s me. But, I am unapologetically myself in these entries. What I’ve gained from reflecting on joys, naming my struggles, and sharing in conversations with those who connect with my words, is the very reward of taking risks. I love the visual of a spotlight pointing down over top of my head. The light illuminates me and a small radius around me, but a step in any direction means stepping into darkness. Taking a risk is a faith-filled step into the darkness; into the unknown. The result is uncertain. It’s not always rosy. But I’ve learned that even if I take a risk and things didn’t turn out the way I had hoped, it was better to have risked and lost than to not have risked at all. The gain has been immeasurable. The gain is me really living.