Heart Choices: Look Back, Forward or Always in the Present? -->

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Look Back, Forward or Always in the Present?

Is there value in looking back?  I often hear that it's important to look forward because there's nothing you can do about the past.  So why look back on what may be painful?

But I also know that history can teach us important lessons.  And learning those lessons may prevent us from making more mistakes in the future.
Big Sur, California
I've been pouring over a box full of old journals I discovered while unpacking boxes during my recent move. I've also been looking at photos I've taken over the years.  I'm looking for photos to frame and display on the walls of my new home.  I smiled when I found this one taken back in 2006 in northern California.  A fun time with good memories.

I've spent much time reading many of my journals.  I poured my heart and soul into them.  I am transported back to the feelings I had while writing.  Some were joyful and others not so much.  I notice an ongoing theme.

Heart Choices was a name I used over and over years before I began blogging.  I always believed that we have choices to make in life.  Every choice has consequences; some good, some not so good and others just plain bad.  I also realize that not all choices I've made have been the best.  But I can certainly learn from them.

Looking back, I see how faithful God has been in my life.  

I also realize how many hours I've spent with dying people.  I worked as a cardiovascular nurse specialist for 25 years.  I recorded the stories of many of these people.  I spoke at many of their funerals.  My husband has often commented that he never knew anyone who had so many experiences with dying people.  He's always encouraged me to write about what I learned from them.

Looking back, I see times when I was so joyful despite difficult circumstances.  I see periods when it was so evident that the Lord was using me for His purposes.

And then there were times when I became so overwhelmed with my feelings.  Feelings of sadness and frustration.  I would give in to them and it spilled over into the words I wrote in my journals.

As I read the Psalms, I see David who also experienced many times of joy and many times of sadness.  I am working on memorizing Psalm 25.  I've found that it's a bit more difficult to memorize the older we get but I am determined.

Listen to verses 1-5:
"To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.  Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.  No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.  Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."

I want to trust God with my life.  I want to give Him my hurts, my anxieties, my hopes and my dreams.  I want to give Him my past and my future.  And I want to give Him my now; the present time.

So as I look back a bit, I am discovering that I have much to share. Lessons I've learned, prayers that were answered even when I couldn't see that at the time.

Looking forward, I can trust that God is faithful.

So where are you?  Think about your life for a moment. 

  • Do you spend any time in the past?  
  • Do you always tend to focus on the future?
  • Do you try to live your life being present in the now?

In the present, I know that God is faithful.

Will you think on these things for a moment?

I'm linking up for Spiritual Sundays.

Blessings and love,

Debbie Petras
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  1. Thank you so much for visiting and commenting dear Debbie! <3

    Yes, I do look back to see where I've come from. It is encouraging to see what God has done! He is so good to us!

    Bless you!

  2. You have touched so many lives in a positive way, Debbie. What a blessing you must have been to those who were dying, and to their families who had to live on.

    There is value in looking backward and forward--I think I tend to look forward maybe too much (and worry about it! ha). I want to learn to live more in the moment, thankful for both the past where I've seen God, and for the future where I know he will be when I get there.

    Have a great week!

  3. This is so good Debbie. Honestly, I think we are a blend of all 3... it's because of the past that my present is what it is, and I have such hope for the future. I love that it is enough to live in the present, always with an eye on where I've been in the past and what I've learned... and what God has ahead in the future.
    Good words sister! :)


  4. I think Sonja said it well, we are a blend of all 3. Another awesome post my friend.

    I could only hope that if I am ever critically ill that the Lord will bless me and my family with a nurse such as yourself. I know that it would have meant so much to me to have had a professing Christian nurse or doctor last summer as I sat at my Dad's bedside. THey were all very nice but none gave me any impression that they were His. But, it was okay because I just relied more heavily on Him and He saw me through and my faith was strengthened yet again.

    I do think of the future because there are things that I long to see worked out and I wonder if they ever will be. Again, the Lord nudges me and reminds me that it is His to work out and mine to trust Him with. So difficult to do at times.

    And, as I approach my 60th birthday I'm working harder on living in the present and enjoying each day to the fullest.

    Thanks for the wonderful inspiration!

  5. Sometimes it is good to review the past to see how far we have come forward in time. We can recount the blessings then and now and rejoice today for His goodness!

  6. Debbie,
    The joy you have, and the joy you share with others shines through in your blog. Yes, you have some painful memories, and even your present is challenging; but you still know Who holds your future and that is the most important of all.

    Have a wonderful week - Marsha

  7. Beautiful Debbie! I believe that our past is always remembered and our future is definitely hoped for, but the present moment is when we are called to seek Him with each breath we take and with each moment that passes. We need to make sure that we fill up today with every opportunity God places before us and deal with tomorrow when it comes. :)

    Glad you have finished unpacking; hope you are getting your walls covered! :)

    Blessings and hugs dear one,

  8. We have much to learn from the past. Jesus commands us to remember his death and resurrection through taking the bread and wine. Reading in Deuteronomy recently I noticed how often MOses pleads with the people of Israel to remember the Lord, His works and His commands. We wouldn't be who we are today if we couldn't remember or learn from the past.
    Thanks for sharing.

  9. The world known Danish Christian philosopher Soeren Kierkegaard has said something essential about past and future. "Life has to be lived forwards, but can be understood when looking back."
    I think all our hows and whys can be understood when looking back after some time. Nevertheless I have to walk into the unknown every day and meet with challenges I only have one answer to; "Help me, Jesus."
    The same Kierkegaard said about faith, "Faith is to plunge into an ocean that is 70,000 feet deep."
    That's what we have to do, over and over again.
    I could not have faced another day without Jesus.

  10. I echo the others with the "all three" selection. I love that hindsight is often (though not always) 20/20. It's so much easier to move ahead if you know what to avoid.

    Actually, I love living in the moment as much as I can. Backward glances sometimes produce guilt; foward glances fear. But I'm learning to see it all as a beautiful tapestry - - and every single thread so necessary.

  11. Wow Debbie, this is a very powerful post. You always do a wonderful job, but there is an added depth to this one. Maybe it is because for some of those memories, I think I may have walked through them with you, or at least heard about them. But perhaps it reaches a part of my inner self that I might need to visit.
    Very good.

  12. Debbie, I appreciate this post! I use to write in my journal much more than I do now. I don't know why I stopped them.

    As far as looking in the past, sometimes I can be too focused on it. There are passages in God's word that mention for the Israelites to remember what trials God has brought them through. Jesus tells us to look ahead for His return (Glory!!)
    I have looked back over some of my past; some from me wading in it and other times for the Lord to show me His hand. I've made mistakes, but praise God that He still picks me up! What great love!I needed to read this, so thank you!
    Blessings, Miriam

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