Look Back to Move Forward

It’s easy to have decision fatigue about what to do with our lives.

These days people can live anywhere and do anything.

Many jobs are remote.

The internet opens up our options.

If we have a little saved up we can move anywhere in the country – or the world, for that matter – and get an entry-level job once we’re there.

Many people I know are living their dreams – making them a reality and not just a dream.

Times have certainly changed.

People used to just live in one place their whole lives…and they didn’t know anything different.

Think of Little House on the Prairie. Travel was hard and dangerous. And they built their own houses. Literally, from the ground up.

Would we move every three years if we had to build our house with our bare hands every time?

No thanks. I might build a house with my bare hands once, but not every few years….

That’s how short our attention spans can be. At least my attention span.

Of course, some people don’t have a choice and need to move for work or financial or family reasons. That’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking this boredom, this dissatisfaction, this wanderlust that I sense in my own heart.

This constant desire to “better” my circumstances by not being in the same place for too long.

But I know in my heart of hearts that there’s power in staying committed to one spot – one neighborhood, one community – for a good long time.

There’s trust and depth in staying.

Relationships are meant to go deeper, not just wider.

And how can we actually go deeper if we’re never in the same spot?

Josh and I recently drove through where we used to live.

It’s been nearly four years since we moved and when I look back I can proudly say that things are better now. 

We’re both older and wiser, for one. 

We successfully simplified down to a one-car lifestyle from two cars. 

We can walk, bike, and run almost everywhere we need to go in our current neighborhood. 

Josh’s job is close enough to bike, meaning he gets exercise that he loves in place of a long, stressful commute. 

I’ve found a homeschool group that I love – that is exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. 

I’m no longer working part-time but living the dream with my boys, adventuring almost daily to parks and creeks and nature areas. 

We’re grateful to still live close to both our parents – and our kids love spending lots of time with their grandparents. 

We love our church, love our diverse neighborhood, and love our simple, frugal, minimal lifestyle we have here. 

We have routines for fitness and healthy eating that are in place and feel effortless to us.

We’ve decluttered our lives of physical clutter and calendar clutter, in order to make room for things that matter more.

We’ve learned to live joyfully frugally – consuming very little without feeling deprived. In other words, we’ve learned the art of mindful consumption.

Of course we can always imagine something better than the here and now. But that’s not reality.

It’s an ever-changing fantasy. 

What we should really compare it to is how far we’ve come.

Driving through our old neighborhood, I’m so encouraged that we’ve come a long way.

Life is better now than it was then and we have a lot to be thankful for. 

We have two amazing kids, and are past the dreadful days of infertility and uncertainty. 

I’m no longer battling my depression that followed the birth of my children. 

I feel like myself again – finally – after several years feeling out of it. 

I ran my first marathon recently – actually an ultramarathon, at 28.5 miles! That is something I never thought I could do, but I did it!

I’m happily married to the greatest man in the world for me, and this is after many mistakes, dating (and not dating) some people that weren’t that great for me.

I’m even drinking less than I used to. Not out of guilt, but for my health. I struggle with staying hydrated so drinking coconut water and sparkling water is a better choice for me most days.

I’ve come a long, long way. And when I look back I can really see that.This isn’t to compare or make it sound like my life is awesome. It’s just to show the importance of looking back and how that plays into looking ahead.

I can feel down in the dumps and stuck until I look back.

I’m the kind of person who is always looking ahead. I don’t like to dwell on the past.

I don’t think it’s necessarily healthy to put too much weight in things that have already been done. But I do think looking back can be encouraging and a useful tool.

Assess what you did right, assess what you could have done better. And give yourself a little pat on the back for the good decisions you’re proud of.

If you don’t like the trajectory of where your life is headed, looking back can help you figure out where you got off track in order to get back on track. 

Looking back can be a powerful tool, without dwelling too much on the things we can’t change.

Comparing my life to the lives of others will leave me feeling incomplete and discontent. (Getting off social media really helps with this one!)

Comparing my life to my imagined, idealized life will leave me feeling overwhelmed with choices and possible missed opportunities.

Comparing my current life to my old life gives me real, immediate feedback on what has worked and what hasn’t.

It reminds me to be grateful and to keep moving forward – even if it’s just baby steps.

It reminds me that I’m on a journey and I will never arrive.

But I will grow. 

The older I get, the more I find that I don’t care what other people think of me. Let me tell you – this alone makes growing older worth it!

I don’t know how many years I wasted caring way too much what other people thought. I’m still not 100% there, but I’ve come a long way. It is extremely freeing and exciting!

I’m excited to turn 30 in September and see what “adult” life is like when I’m out of my 20’s.

I’m excited to see what other areas I will grow in and develop.

I’m excited to keep not caring what “they” think.

I hope you’re along for the ride so we can learn from each other!

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 1:10

What are some areas you’ve improved in as you’ve grown?

How are you more mature or living life more fully than you were yesterday?

What are some big goals you’ve accomplished so far?

Let’s brag on ourselves. Let’s inspire ourselves and each other! Let’s remind ourselves to take it one day at a time, but to appreciate the big picture as well!

Photography by Alex Marie Photo Co. 

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