“Don’t look back. You aren’t going that way.”
I don’t know where these words originated, but they came to me while I was looking for inspirational wall decals for the room I changed to my office. I didn’t go with this expression for the room, but it was written on my mirror for almost a year.
We tend to walk wherever we are looking. It is incredibly difficult to stare at one thing, but move towards another. Most of the time, if we try to look back while walking forward, we start to veer off to the side. At best, we make very, very slow progress.
When I first wrote the words on my mirror, I kept finding myself looking to the past and longing for what was. At that point, the future was very uncertain and scary. Looking back, though more painful, was less terrifying. I had so many moments when I just wanted to erase the present and go back. I wanted what I had. The quote written at eye level reminded me that the past was gone — longing for what was, but will never be again, is a fruitless effort.
As September draws closer, I again fight the battle of looking back. This time of year is full of painful memories for me, landmarks of lost battles and devastating revelations. Conversations that can’t be unheard. Actions that can’t be undone. I am not tempted to look back and long for what was anymore. I am excited about the future, and fully believe that what comes next will be better than what was. Now, the temptation to look back means rehearsing the failures and disappointments of the past. To bring those hurts into the present and future with me. They are many. They can paralyze. More importantly, they have no bearing on what is true.
I need to look where I’m going, and not where I’ve been.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
These verses capture where I want to go and where I need to look to get there.
- I want to be embedded in a community of believers that will help strengthen and encourage me, as I strengthen and encourage them.
- I want to lay aside the pain of the past.
- I want to be victorious over sin in my life.
- I want to be a person who preserves and presses on, even when it is difficult to do so.
So, I will look to Jesus. As I fix my eyes on Him, He relieves the burden of the past and gives me strength for the future.
I don’t want to look back. I just want to look at Jesus.