Don’t forget to look in your rear view.

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As January approaches, there’s always a bit of talk about goals and resolutions for the new year. Before you finish your list, however, I want to challenge you to take a minute to consider last year and even the previous years that bring you up to today.

“Disregard for the past will never do us any good. Without it we cannot know truly who we are.”

Syd Moore

I don’t know Mr.Moore, but I think there’s great truth to his quote. I’ve looked into the “rear view” of my life many times and each time, it seems, I gain more and more insight to who I am today. Sometimes, I even go way back to deal with a sin issue that keeps rearing its ugly head. One very memorable “rear view” moment, I found that I had not truly forgiven someone and needed to. My “grudge” was holding me back from loving them fully, without strings attached. Those have been some of the most healing times in my life and they allow me to move forward in an emotionally healthy way. But today, I thought I’d share a piece of my journey as I looked back some years to my college days.

On the day I graduated from Cedarville College in Ohio, (now Cedarville University) I left with diploma in hand and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. I was proud of the woman who had developed over those four significant years. We took pictures in front of buildings that we had walked by day after day on our way to classes and posed with friends that had become so dear. Later that day, my roommate and I went back to our house and cleaned out our rooms. We laughed and cried over the memories that had occurred in that old house on the edge of town: there was that time that some boys hid in our basement and nearly caused all the girls in our house to have a heart attack at the ripe old age of 21. Ahh yes, good memories.

Later that day, I packed up and hit the road with my family and left an incredible place behind. Out the car window, I looked back:

I remembered a girl who stepped foot on campus with excitement, but within a week wanted nothing more than to go home.  She was so overwhelmed by her new “books” (aka. “syllabi”) and all the new faces. She missed her familiar surroundings and suddenly felt shy for the first time in her life. She missed friends that she had real history with and her parents, so much so, that it hurt.

She started Nursing classes and struggled her way through Microbiology. There were labs and a couple horrible tests and finally, clinicals with REAL people! Scary.

Living a life of excellence was imparted to her through the many voices on campus. And of course, who could forget that she and the entire Freshman class had to exercise at least 3 days a week to pass a class?!

There was chapel every day and it was here, that God grabbed her heart and wouldn’t let go. She told Him that she would do “anything, anytime, anywhere” and she considered what that might really mean for her life. Her love for God grew. It was during these faithful years where God met her not only in chapel, but in the midst of clinicals at the hospital or through difficult tests that made her trust Him more.

Her relationship grew with the man she hoped to marry. They were encouraged to walk a life together that would point others to Jesus and to bring him glory no matter what God called them to do. They benefited from couples who mentored them for their upcoming marriage, where they were given “tools” to help work through the broken times to come.

I had to look back.

My life sings of these crucial moments in my past. They are a huge part of who I am today and why I do what I do and why I think how I think. I would be remiss if I failed to notice how much these past experiences contribute to today’s goals and dreams.  Sometimes we want to shove the past in a closet. It brings up painful memories or unfulfilled dreams, but there’s something to be gained there as well. Instead of saying good-bye to the past, why not invite its input and see how you’ve grown because of it?

As you think through this past year, what difficulties did you face? What dropped you to your knees? What made you cry? Where were you undone? I felt all of those emotions at one time or another this past year. There were times that days with my children felt unfulfilled and my desire for “more” stood in the way of engaging them like I should have. There were moments of pure frustration with ministry life and people, but as I took a step back I realized that there was so much to be gained there! God met me in those places of unrest, revealing areas of my own life that needed to be surrendered.  I felt hurt a few times too and learned that God will always require me to extend grace…especially when I don’t want to. I was reminded that many of us think very differently than one another, so we aren’t always going to agree and that just might have to be ok. I was reminded again that I need to obey God relentlessly and stay faithful to what He has called me to, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

If you haven’t already taken some time to feel the weight of your past’s hard lessons, do it!  Adjust your rear view and don’t miss what God has placed there for you to consider. Learn from what you find. Let it transform you.

So don’t move forward just yet. There is so much insight to be gained from looking back. You might laugh or maybe you’ll have a good cry, but I hope you won’t miss it.

About shannalehr

My name is Shanna Lehr. I'm blessed to be the wife of Scott Lehr and mother to Ella, Ava, Janie and Gracie Belle. I love to cook, travel, run, and spend time with my family. My life has been changed by Jesus and I love to share him with others. Stop back often and join the conversation by leaving a comment. I love to hear from you! You can connect with me on Twitter: @ShannaLehr
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