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Looking Back

Remember the time - or the times - when you thought to yourself “How did I get here?” As we have said before, it doesn’t mean that you were in trouble or that you had done something wrong. Birth of a child, the promotion, a great day when all the family were together. You didn’t need a camera, you could vividly recall the whole event. A couple of years ago, our immediate family all went to the island of Kauai for a vacation. Outside of gatherings for a meal or a specific event that was the first time that we were all able to get together. I still have the picture on my laptop to this day.

We came to Canada in 2003 and we arrived in Calgary before we left for Saskatoon. We had a couple of days to look around and we visited Lake Louise. I had seen it in the winter and it was spectacular. I was about to be overwhelmed…we walked through the parking area through the wooded area to see the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. We can all be prone towards exaggeration - I have visited many, many countries around the world and seen some amazing sights. I was stuck in time trying to take in the extent of what lay in front of me. This was the best - really? yes, it was as though the Lord was showing us that our lives weren’t over and there is clearly better and greater things to come.

There is a principle in driving which we can translate to life and that is don’t spend too much time looking in the rear-view mirror. In the car, it is for glancing back, checking out what is at the back or around you. If we spent our time looking back at what coulda, woulda, shoulda we would be full of regrets and disappointments. No matter how great a life we have had, no matter how great our children have blessed us and made us proud, we will have those times when we wished that we could have done something differently or said it with a little more thought. SELAH.

[SELAH is a word used in the Psalms to say take a break, reflect on what was just said, ponder on whether that is the truth or not… Read that again and see if it isn’t true.]

Life is one long learning curve. We should learn from our good experiences just as much as we have to be aware of avoiding the bad ones. The famous Deja-Vu principle is not one which we want to be reminded of. Invariably, it’s for the wrong reasons - How did I allow myself to be fooled or so stupid, again? One inmate, who I recall for the following experiences comes to mind, quietly told me about 4 children that he had fathered with 3 different women in 3 different provinces… I, rather unfairly, asked him if he was planning to populate the whole nation as a demonstration of his love for the country!! Sorry, but I know it made a difference to him by his reaction to my comments - he never returned to prison, I spoke to him a few years on and he thanked me for giving him a dose of realization and that he had to stop his philandering and wayward actions. Time to settle down and act responsibly.

Like all of us, we do need a timely wake up call to avoid the same pitfalls. Reflecting back on things and experiences is fine as long as it has it’s roots in glancing not dwelling. We start to put blame on us or others and we soon find that we are regretting nothing this or that. It can become depressive and judgemental. Before long the reset turns to remorse and self reproach. We look back to help us to go forward with confidence. If we have been in associations which have proven negative - why would we continue them.

Inmates have a great opportunity to overcome poor decisions or wrong relationships. They have time to reflect on How did I get here? and realise that there are areas and people to avoid if we want to regain some control over who we are and what direction we want to go in. The next time you are driving or going forward, reflect on the mirror don’t ogle and stay fixated with what went on in your life. Everyone makes mistakes, the key area is how long does it take to resolve them?

The past is behind you, there is a way now to put aside any failures or negatives. Someone one said that Failure isn’t fatal, don’t let it.

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