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Entries in Looking Back (2)

Thursday
Jan032019

Looking Back to Look Forward

Kathy Carlton Willis is a life trailblazer. As her bio reads, she "shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow." And so you can move forward. In this New Year UPGRADE she writes about two "looks"—the look backward and the look forward.

Kathy says, “It’s not possible to move forward while looking back, but it’s also not possible to move forward without having first looked back.

"Looking back allows you the opportunity to leave it there. The good and the bad."

I (Dawn) love the opportunity Kathy gives us to prepare ourselves for our best year ever. Lots of wisdom here.

Kathy continues . . .

The past is only baggage that will weigh you down moving forward. It’s futile to expect passion to be enough for productivity in living out your purpose for 2019 until you properly put 2018 to bed.

Do you have any annual practices as you transition from the old year to the new year? Or would you like to start a new tradition this year?

It’s a great time to look back (to learn from the past) and to look forward (to set new goals).

Some choose to ask God to give them a focus word or phrase for the year. This practice allows you to have a main purpose or perspective as you navigate the next twelve months.

One way to prepare for the New Year is to:

  • look back on the old year,
  • address any unfinished business hanging on in your heart or mind,
  • and then ask God to help you move forward, ready for what He has planned for you in 2019.

Steps to Looking Back Well

1. Be honest with yourself.

Many women tend to downplay the good things and magnify the bad.

2. Identify the positive highlights of the year.

Why do they stand out in your mind? What was your part in the outcome? How did you see God at work in the circumstance, or in your heart and mind?

3. Let go of the disappointments of the year.

What do you regret? How were you let down? How did something negative impact your year?

What can you do to move past it?

4. Repent of anything left unconfessed from 2018.

  • Look upon your sinful choices with remorse and learn from them.
  • Consider ways to choose godly options next time.
  • Accept God’s forgiveness and ask God to change any lingering tendencies that might cause you to give in to unholy thoughts or actions in the future.

5. Recall the hard times you endured that had good outcomes.

Thank God for equipping you with the endurance needed to persevere.

As you say goodbye to 2018 and say hello to 2019, take some time to grieve the losses of the year and celebrate the victories.

Do something monumental and memorable to mark this moment. This prepares you to move forward.

“Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles, and the rulings he has given” (1 Chronicles 16:12 NLT.

Now it’s time to release 2018 and enter into 2019 with full resolve!

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:13-14 NLT).

Steps to Looking Forward Willingly

1. Decide what to do about unfinished projects.

What was left unfinished in 2018?

How do you plan to make room for it in 2019? Or is this a goal that you need to let go?

2. Evaluate what new thing God is impressing on you as you pray for direction in the new year.

How will you incorporate that into your plan?

3. Identify distractions, doubts and disabilities.

What limitations might impair you, moving forward?

How can you set up a plan to work around these concerns?

4. Work within your heart-core passion.

What project excites you? How can you make more room in your life for it?

5. Reserve more margin or white space in your life.

How will this refuel you?

What might you do to guard against draining to-dos threatening to crowd this space?

6. Ask God to show you the goals He has for your 2019.

  • What will help you grow spiritually, personally, and professionally?
  • What will benefit your family and friends?
  • What will put you in a place of service and ministry?
  • And mostly, what will bring glory to God?

The blank 2019 calendar represents you emptied out and ready to be filled up with God and His goals for you.

How will you fill your calendar (and your life) this year?

God’s Grin Gal, Kathy Carlton Willis, shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow. She’s speaker and author with over a thousand articles online and in print, as well as her Bible study, Grin with Grace; and she is featured on CBN. She and her husband Russ live in Texas with their adorable Boston Terrier, Hettie.

Graphic Adapted, courtesy of JakeMelara at Unsplash.

Tuesday
Jun132017

How To Run without Looking Back

In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, I want to encourage readers to run the race of life wisely, and especially without looking back!

How are you running the race God gave you?"

Pause. Think. Read on.

I hated field hockey. As a junior high student, I didn't like anything about it—the endurance running (with my asthma), the craziness of scrambling after the ball, and especially all those swinging sticks!

But I remember one game in particular where I really blew it and suffered embarrassment for days.

My stance was fine, my Indian dribble fair, and my slap shots sufficient. But my coach repeatedly yelled, "Stay focused, Dawn. Quit looking back."

Pretty good advice considering I froze and looked back every time I heard the pounding of footsteps behind me. Whenever I had the ball "corraled" and girls rushed toward me from behind, I tended to spin around and get out of the way to avoid being run over!

My athletic sons would shake their heads in embarrassment if they could time-warp to see me back then.

One day, when the stampede of girls behind me once again scared me to death, I spun around, lost my footing and fell awkwardly, spraining an ankle and hitting my head. Sprawled on the grass, little birdies spun around my head, tweeting. (Back then, those were life's original "Tweets.")

Not exactly a star player.

I never really liked those wayward hockey sticks either. Or bruised knees (when players somehow missed my shin guards).

Like I said, I hated field hockey.

But that "looking back" thing? I still do it. In life.

I look back when I live with regrets, compare myself to others, or lose focus.

Life, unlike a field hockey game, isn't optional. And I don't want to stay stuck in fear. I want to grow in faith.

The Lord wants me to learn, grow and run my race well "to get the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:24).

So ... what am I DOING about that "looking back" problem?

1. I'm dealing with regrets biblically.

I know I can't go back for life re-dos. Looking back is fruitless except as I take my past to the Father and allow Him to redeem it (Isaiah 44:22).

When we confess our failings and leave them with the Lord, His forgiveness, mercy and grace allow us to move forward with God-confidence and fresh obedience (1 John 1:9).

The Lord will keep refining us as we run our race (Psalm 66:10; 1 Peter 1:7). It's His work, and He will perfect us (Psalm 138:8; Philippians 1:6).

2. I'm learning to compare myself only with Jesus.

My sidetracking temptation in playing field hockey was to idolize the best players. When I did that, there was never any real progress—at least not as far as I was concerned.

The truth is, my coach didn't want me to become Beth, Angie or Mary. He wanted me to be the best Dawn possible.

That's what the Lord wants for all of us too.

It's so easy in Christian circles to compare ourselves with women who have it "all together for Jesus," forgetting they have their own struggles—their own weaknesses, sometimes hidden beyond our view.

The Lord simply wants us to live in the ways and for the purposes He created us, all "to the praise of His glory."

Earthly comparisons are foolish (2 Corinthians 10:12). But finding out God's purposes and imitating Jesus in pursuing those purposes—that's wisdom.

3. I'm learning to focus on the Father's will.

  • The goal isn't to look back and regret what might have been.
  • The goal isn't to look around and constantly strive to be better than others.
  • The goal is to finish the race God sets before us in ways that please Him.

We will desire to be obedient. Holy. Wise. Purpose-driven. Loving and compassionate. Serving in kindness. And we will allow the Holy Spirit to produce fruit in us as we follow hard after the Lord.

The goal is to imitate Jesus and align ourselves with what our Father God is doing (John 5:19).

We accomplish this goal in the power of the Holy Spirit—not in our own strength, and certainly not with our own agenda (Zechariah 4:6; I Corinthians 2:4).

As Dr. Charles Stanley wrote, "Spiritual power is the divine energy God is willing to express in and through us and the divine authority needed to carry out the work God has called us to do... God will not place you into a position or ask you to accomplish a task for which He will not fully equip and enable you." *

So we are empowered, equipped and enabled; but our FOCUS is crucial.

The look is important:

  • Looking back, we'll stumble around in painful regret.
  • Looking around, we'll be distracted and hindered.
  • But looking forward and up toward the Lord, there is sure hope for progress in Christ.

Let's think more biblically, and run our race with a God-centered focus.

Running with wisdom, we're less likely to take a tumble!

Are you living with regrets? Comparing yourself to others? Unfocused or confused about the goal? Ask the Lord to help you clear direction from His Word and empower you to finish well.

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Field Hockey graphic courtesty of keithjj, Pixabay

* Charles Stanley quote, here.