Reflecting means looking back, remembering what we've done and where we've come from. I think that it's important and even healthy to do this often. We need to know where we've come from to have a better idea of where we are going. But there's danger in reflecting. It's called reliving. Reliving the past, good and bad. I've noticed that a lot of people want to relive the "glory days," want to go back in time to a moment that is far past. I've also noticed people who carry their past mistakes with them, like a bag full of rocks. It drags them down and breaks their backs. Why do we do this? Why do we like to live in the past?
Let's take a look at the story of Lot's wife. Lot and his family lived in the wicked city of Sodom and Gomorrah. These cities became wickeder and wickeder and were going to be destroyed by God because they did everything they could to go against him. God told Lot to leave the city, that it was going to be destroyed and He left them on strict instruction, "look not behind thee" (Genesis 19:17). As Lot and his family fled the city something happened, Lot's wife looked back. A pillar of salt she became. Even though God had told her not to look back, she did it. Why? Why did she look back? I don't think that she simply looked back, I think she desired to go back. She didn't even give attention to the thought that the future could be so much better, so much more than the past she was leaving behind. She was too attached to the past and placed no confidence in the future.
Do we do this? Do we look back to relive our pasts instead of moving forward and living in the here and now and having hope for the future? Elder Jeffery R. Holland said:
"The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future."Let me restate that. "Faith is always pointed toward the future." Christ's Atonement covered the past mistakes we made so that we wouldn't have to carry around a bag of rocks with us. He wants to take them from us, we just have to let Him. We can't have faith in Him if we're continuing to look back and relive instead of reflect. We need to give our rocks to Him and let Him keep them. Don't try to take them back! Let Christ heal you and I promise that as we look forward and learn from our past and not live in it, we will be able to find more joy in our lives.
Every day is a new year, a new start. Nine months of my mission are done and gone. I can't change them, but I can learn from them and I can move forward. I can become better because of them. I don't become by changing my past, I become by shaping my future. So, in the words of a very popular Disney song, "let it go." Keep your eyes toward the future, towards your dreams and hopes, and trust that God will transform your life "today, tomorrow, and forever" (Jeffery R. Holland). Choose to not look back, choose to not let pillars of salt fill your life.
The talk that I pulled the Jeffery R. Holland quotes from is entitled "Remember Lot's Wife" and can be found here