This week, we had our very last day of summer. We packed backpacks, picked the outfits, talked about the “butterflies” in my daughter’s tummy, and tucked everyone in bed. As I walked through the quiet house and sat down in our living room I had exactly one thought. “We made it. Thank you, Lord, we made it.”
While that may seem like an unusual amount of relief, it’s exactly how I felt after months of life transition. Our particular transition was a move, and it was a hard one for several reasons. First, my kids are older now. They knew what it meant to leave friends and “start over.” Also, we were apart, a lot. Packing and not being with your person during hard times just makes things, well, harder. And, there was the special adventure of looking for a home in the most brutal housing market since 1982.
As so many of us do, we buoyed the hard moments and emotions by looking forward. As scary as the unknown felt, we hitched our minds to hope and considered all the ways God would meet us there. We talked about new friends, a new school, and I mentally decorated our new home with its Christmas tree. We talked a lot about how we are together no matter where we go, and God goes with us. Looking forward gave us a lot of energy, unity, and hope. This looking forward was helpful because that’s what we are called to do sometimes.
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14, NIV
Yes, we did a lot of looking forward, and I am so grateful for the way that practice supported us. But, as I sat on the chair that night, my mind did not go forward this time. It went backward.
I thought about the pain of emptying our old home. But, that produced gratitude for the incredible friends and family who moved our furniture, filled our boxes, and filled our hearts as tears spilled over in goodbyes. I thought about laying on the carpet that last night thinking, “I’ll never sleep” and miraculously waking the next day rested. I thought about the incredible people in our new community who reached out in those early days, helping us to feel welcome and loved. So many things, all the ways God sustained us. And, as hard as it was to look back on some of those moments, it was also so very helpful. Turns out, looking back was helpful because that’s also what we are called to do sometimes.
“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.” Psalm 143:5, ESV
And, this beautiful translation:
“Once again I’ll go over what God has done, lay out on the table the ancient wonders; I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished, and give a long, loving look at your acts.” Psalm 77:11-12, MSG (emphasis added)
Looking forward AND looking back. Just one example of how important it is to look at the whole counsel of God’s Word to make sure we access all of the incredible resources He offers for our wellbeing. As so many of us make the transition from summer to fall, season to season, or loss into something new, may we remember these encouragements. Life transitions are best made by looking forward AND backward. A windshield and a rearview mirror are helpful on any journey.