Life’s climb can seem hopelessly steep if we don’t stop to look down at how far we’ve come.
“Look!” my little Kindergartner exclaimed. “There’s a letter ‘d’ there, and a letter ‘D’ there…” she trailed on, pointing out all of the letter D’s on her homework paper.
My children’s homework often feels like my homework, and in the two years between my daughters, I had forgotten about how particularly tedious Kindergarten homework is for this mom.
Instead of following along the rows of letters, my number two child was skipping all over the page like we had all day to get the page done and move onto the next.
“OK, now I’m going to time you to see how many you can name in a minute,” I explained to her.
“NO!!!!!!!!!” She immediately retorted, her face all scrunched up (scrunchy face…yep, it has a name) and every limb flailing in protest.
Now, I knew the timing element was going to cause a problem, because this little one is a sore loser. Throws an absolute fit every time she loses a race, a game, etc. In fact, to evade the meltdown, I had only been timing her in secret up to this point. But in the middle of a busy dance studio waiting room, at the end of an already exhausting day, I simply was not in the mood for her cutesy dilly-dallying.
“Yep,” I stated. “Ready, set, go.”
She read the letters as the time ticked down, and I noticed her nervousness slowing her down. When the timer ran out and the beep alert sounded, she still had two rows left.
“Great job, Lo!” I congratulated.
“I HATE WHEN YOU TIME ME!” she cried, and began to throw a fit in that same crowded waiting room.
I pulled her onto my lap and gave her the hug she needed, and then tried to reason with a five year old after 5 o’clock…
“It’s OK if you don’t get them all in a minute right away,” I said, “the first time we did sight words you knew one, and now you know over twenty I bet.”
Over and over I tried to explain to this overtired child that she was simply going through the process of learning. As I escorted her out of the waiting room, threatening to take her home instead of to the all so coveted gymnastics class she so dearly loves, the panic ensued. In fact, it got worse. No matter how I tried to comfort her, never yelling (Holy Spirit- props) or giving her mean looks or threatening to make her run laps…she continued to wail.
Why is it so hard for us to look back and see how far we’ve come?One of my favorite track coaches in high school used to make me do ten push-ups for every one time I looked back during my race. I was a miler, and something about hearing my competition’s spikes smack the track behind me always motivated me to throw in a burst of speed. It always frustrated my coaches that I wouldn’t just give my best without knowing who’s nipping at my heals, and my little chicken arms paid for it after every race. I looked back a lot.
Flipping through my Dad’s old cassette tapes, I stumbled onto the song “Don’t Look Back,” by Boston. Against all of my natural impulses; that became my theme song.
Throughout my life, that’s what I’ve tried to do.
“Don’t look back,” at all of the mistakes…
Turn the page on all the “yucky” parts of life that I wish I could take back.
Justify any hurt I’ve caused…
But never…no never…look back.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” James 4:10
The first ten verses of that chapter serve as a gut-check to me.
So obsessed, am I, with all the failure in my life….all of the things that I can’t figure out…the personality flaws that haunt me daily…and people…
As one of the pastors at my church preached one Sunday, “People are annoying.”
I annoy myself, thank you. A lot.
We spend so much time comparing our lives to Facebook news feeds…so much time beating ourselves up over our imperfection…that we forget…or maybe you don’t know…
“For God, Who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 2Chronicles 4:6
Mistakes are woven into the flesh of life.
Marvel at how far you’ve come.
Don’t let yourself forget that God loves you immensely. He gave up His only son. Would you do that for anybody? I wouldn’t. People are annoying, right? God uses the imperfect in all of us, but especially in some of us. Remember the story of Jacob, and if you don’t, visit the book of Genesis and soak it all in again.
Life is tough. Marriage is no cake walk. Parenting is a nightmare. I don’t get it. I mess it up. Daily. But…look back.
“…Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:19-20
Through all the pain…all of the struggles…so much strife…God has given us Jesus so we may draw near to Him throughout the experience of life on this earth. The more days I live, the more I depend on that companionship for survival.
Look back. Use what you have learned to grow.
Praise God, I have a few people in this life that I can fall a part in the midst of and they don’t run for the other side of the city. You know who you are. And I’ll never be able to express what angels on earth you are in my life.
And then there’s my husband, who has loved me through one trauma after another. Sometimes I don’t know why…maybe he owes it to me for stealing a decade of sleep with his snoring…most days I know he’s a blessing to my life. Some days we go through life joyful one minute, and frantic the next….then sad the next…then happy the next. But we go through it. We get through it. Moment by moment. Day by Day. Year by year…until almost a decade married has flown by.
Happy Birthday, Jimmy.
I love you.
Look back…at how far…we’ve come.