Purposefully Backwards

I am attempting to do something strange: go backwards in life while retaining all the knowledge and desires to move forward. I’m not sure it is entirely possible, but that risk is something I am determined to take. Will my mind and spirit follow my heart’s desire to dive into my past and explore my inner world? Or will I be at a juxtaposition of being pulled forward by my ultimate goal of growth and change, yet held back as I use my natural heightened gift of introspection to mine my soul and discover who I am and who I am capable of being?

I guess the better question is, why am I doing this?

Reason #1:

To look at my past from a first person perspective, rather than retrospective, by resurfacing the inner desires and circumstances that fueled my desires at the time. Don’t you wish you could go back in time and explore your emotions, perspectives, and motives by truly feeling them, instead of superimposing those elements using hindsight? In doing so, you can analyze the depth of your needs and behavior while you were vulnerable, and understand the true power of the forces you were facing that led you in that direction. This is a dangerous process as I will need to hold my new self apart as I slip back into my old self, lest I lose my new world view.

Reason #2:

To heal from my brokenness and my prior relationships by facing the core issues that were never resolved. They say that a wound will never heal if you don’t give it time, so why would I want to revisit my past over and over and over? Because I’m not trying to heal that wound. I’m trying to heal something deeper. If I let my wound scab over, then from the outside I’ll look healed and protected. I may even revel in my new strength. But deep down, I haven’t changed underneath. Either I will keep making the same mistakes in the future because I am not whole and healthy, or I’ll resolve those issues over a very long period of time as they arise from certain stimuli. If some of those issues don’t arise to cause problems, then am I healed? No. Either I haven’t encountered the triggering stimuli or I’ve managed to deal with the triggering stimuli differently (likely in avoidance of triggering the response). But eventually, the issue may resurface and cause havoc. I’m not willing to pay that price. I’d rather leave a scar now than superficially heal without ever making any progress.

Reason #3: 

To become more self aware in the present. The only way to do this is to start recognizing my patterns and then analyze them. What if I want to analyze my patterns amidst great hardship and suffering? The only way to do this is to undergo new hardship, or to revisit past suffering. It doesn’t seem to make sense at this point in my life to go forward into another relationship wary of issues I’ll need to resolve. I’d rather start resolving them now and become aware of myself as an individual.

But will this cause problems?

Problem #1:

It will feel as if I am slamming the breaks on my life and looking backward. All of life will rush past me and I will only be paying attention to key elements in order to maintain a semblance of a life. It will feel as if I am cheating myself out of the present and its opportunity for development. So why would I do this? Because part of me believes that making this sacrifice and going backward will yield ample returns to justify this cost.

Problem #2:

It will create a huge intellectual and emotional burden of missed opportunity. Because I’ll be paying attention to the present while looking backward, I’ll be inclined ‘save’ all of my ideas of progress and put them on hold. Additionally, it will stifle any forward momentum. Instead, it will feel as if I am slowly trudging upstream while all the currents and attention should be downstream. Or, it will feel that I damming up a life-giving river and not letting it flow through through me and others. Can I bear the guilt? Am I so self-centered as to think this way?

Problem #3:

How does one know what to look for? This isn’t a reconnaissance mission, this is an open-ended exploration of my memories and my heart. Don’t I need a more specific goal than to ‘simply understand and heal’? Will I just be discovering and documenting, or will I return to the present to put those learnings into hard-tested practice? Do I truly need to stop the world for this mission? How do I draw the line in terms of time allotted? Will I just be chasing the wind?

Now, when I think about it, my heart sinks with despair as I am convicted to only look forward and move on. How can a person learn from the past without thoroughly examining it? Am I only supposed to look ahead?

Conviction #1:

I have a new life with God. I have just started down this path, so why would I put it on hold? As I seek to see and experience the past as it was, rather through new eyes of faith and love, can I truly continue to keep my heart in two separate worlds? Can I still be one with God and yet putting Him on hold? Am I not walking away from it all by choice to remember the past?

Conviction #2:

I am about to embark in a leadership training program. How am I to lead others forward when I purposefully have stifled my forward progress in order to look backward while the window presents itself? I can gain things intellectually, yes, and slowly grow. But leadership is about influence and relational progress. Can I lead others if I myself am not growing relationally with myself?

Conviction #3: 

I should look at my past through my new spiritual eyes of love and worship. That way, I can truly repent and know that in wholeness I am greater. But, I believe that I can again be weakened to a vulnerable emotional state and all of my selfishness will resurface. Can I rely only on God back in that darkness? Am I not to find my own way out using the gifts God has given me? Am I trusting in my own strength and not God’s way? Am I making myself into my own God?

My Prayer

God, convict me. The stress and self condemnation has already made me weak and I feel shamed, as if looking back is a sin. I believe it is a great gift, though I know you have so much more ahead. Forgive my selfishness as I turn back the clock. Hold me from falling back into despair. Give me strength to be so near to my vulnerability and yet remain separate and new. When I grow weary, fill me with joy as I remember your greatness and your great Love, renewing me in my pursuits with an energized heart. In you, nothing formed against me shall stand. You hold the world in your hands. I trust you. I can’t bargain with you. So please guide my steps, pulling me between the two worlds in safekeeping.

Resolve

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One Response to Purposefully Backwards

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