One of our daughter’s favorite things to do is look at and enjoy our old picture albums. I enjoy sitting with her for hours laughing and reflecting on the memories that instigated the photos! So fun to tell her stories about pictures taken when they were very young and talk about how all three kids interacted and the funny things they did and said. We both love looking back and reminiscing. I am so thankful we have great memories.
Reflecting or looking back can be a very positive thing. As a young person my parents would encourage me to count my blessings……this always required me to “look back” and reflect………..when I take the time to stop…truly stop and sit quietly and look back over different times in our lives…..I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
Just recently, I made a new friend here in Columbia. We enjoy spending time together and we attend the same church. She is relatively new to Columbia, a total of 4 years. I have lived here for 27 years so I have loved being able to introduce her to my friends and acquaintances. Just the other day I had to stop and reflect on how I initially met another long time friend that my new friend had just met. Wow! I realized…..several friends who are really good friends…like heart friends, whom I adore, have now been introduced to my new friend. All of these friendships were formed years ago in a Bible study we did together for 18 weeks.
As I stopped to reflect…..I realized the desire to grow in Christ with others and a commitment to a Bible study over 18 years ago has blessed me with lifelong relationships that are “rock solid”. These friends are close and would drop everything if I needed them….some have moved away but we stay in contact. When we reconnect, it is as if we had not missed a day. Others I talk to daily and the bond and gift that was formed is something I didn’t realize at the time, but now……I am literally amazed at the bond of friendship…in fact, one of the families that moved away….not too far, just to Charleston, I stay with them often when I am in the area…for golf, ministry or writing….or, for a friend visit………!
From reflecting over just those relationships and how we came together has encouraged me to do something similar in the Back 9 with a prayer group or Bible study….I see how God blessed that in our lives and the positive fruit that came from it! Relationships that have been lifeblood to me and our family for years now! Just as God reflected in Genesis 1:31, “God saw all that he had made, and it was good. and there was evening and there was morning—the sixth day.” God reflected and enjoyed the good.
Reflecting can also be painful. It can dredge up mistakes and failures we would like to forget. I am the first to say….let’s move on….to better and more positive things. Sometimes in order to move on….you at least have to take the time to reflect and learn. Learn from the mistake. I love what John Maxwell points out about scientists. He says scientists look at mistakes not as failures necessarily but as feedback to make progress! He says, “Negative experiences (mistakes) in science precede discoveries.”
We can all learn something here. Reflecting can lead to learning even if what we are forced to reflect on isn’t pretty or fun. It can makes us better and we can improve going forward. Sweeping mistakes under the rug and not taking the time to ask ourselves important questions like, “What could I have done differently?” “What was my responsibility there?” can prohibit what God would want us to learn. Reflecting is an important learning tool to keep us from repeating mistakes as taught in Proverbs 26:11, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”
Learning to “reflect” on the good and the bad from our past can give us great seeds and fertilizer to sow a harvest in our future. Being teachable and desiring to learn from history is a great thing but always coupled with a desire to move forward for that New thing. God’s desire for our reflecting is to give us the mindset of gratitude and learning, to forward think and dwell on His nature, looking to Isaiah 43:19, “See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
God doesn’t waste anything in our lives, and we shouldn’t either. Reflect, learn and trust God for that NEW THING. He uses all things to work for the good of those who are called according to His purpose!