There is little doubt that 2021 was a challenging year for nearly everyone. Our lives over the last several years have been affected or changed in ways that we could not have imagined. Many of us found our lives changed and faith challenged to the limits, perhaps resolving to just put the past behind us and hope somehow for a better 2022.
However, instead of trying to forget this hard season, a more spiritually healthy approach would be to ask what we have learned from this past year as we look ahead to the new one.
In 1948, Sir Winston Churchill gave a speech to the House of Commons a few years after World War II. In it, he warned his countrymen, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” He was saying that it is important to consider past mistakes and former successes in order to chart a victorious way forward. A similar but less serious quote was uttered by Master Oogway in the movie Kung Fu Panda when he said, “The future is a mystery, the past is history, NOW is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.”
As we journey into 2022, are we robbing the possibilities of the present by dwelling on the past? Living in the past by constantly revisiting past regrets or successes is not living at all. It prevents us from enjoying our blessings and creating new positive memories. With God’s help we can do better than that. As a friend once said, “The past is a motel and not a home.” The past is a place to visit briefly on occasion, but it is not a place to live.
Considering these quotations on the past (sage or otherwise), looking back over the last few years, what have we learned about ourselves, our families, the world, and God? How has our faith been shaped differently? As we remember difficult circumstances or events (or even people), we should ask ourselves what we could have done better, and ask the Lord how we can grow and improve. When we remember moments of triumph and joy, we should give thanks to the Lord and look forward to what He will do in the future. The key is to reflect and learn from the past so that we can move forward with hope.
The Apostle Paul knew how to keep his heart and mind and eyes zeroed on the correct 25-meter target. He tells us,
“…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)
Paul had learned from his past, but refused to live there. There was still more that Jesus was calling him to do.
As the song says, “These are the good old days.” Let’s learn from our past, and then get out and make some new memories in this new year. It is time to press on.
CH (COL-ret), USA