(or tips on not being that dog who returns to his vomit)
You know, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
But what about when we’ve made it through something destructive and moved on, yet find ourselves, for some strange reason, looking back?
I read a quote this week about how when someone’s trying to mend their ways, the worst thing you can do is bring up their past, and it got me thinking.
I started wondering about why when I’ve gotten through a tough spot, a painful time, a heartbreaking stretch that I look back at it and consider returning. Maybe that doesn’t happen with most people (healthy people), but I have a feeling I’m not alone here. Otherwise, no girl would ever go back to that guy who beats her up, no sober alcoholic would walk into a bar, and all of those people who’ve lost weight would never need to adjust their belt again.
So how do we stay moving forward instead of going back? Here are a few tips I’ve come up with. Please share your thoughts in the comments, and may we all live the abundant life we’re meant to live. The life that’s out of the rut with hope by our side.
1. Stay Busy. Could it be we’re looking back because we’re bored and in need of a change? Well, there are lots of ways to spice life up. Returning to pain isn’t one of them.
2. Stop the Fantasy. The farther away from the pain we get, the more it can seem as if maybe it wasn’t so bad. Don’t be fooled.
3. Listen to the Cat. Curiosity is not very useful here. Maybe it’s just simple curiosity, wanting to take another look, but if it’s simply that we’re wondering if our heart will still break or the craving will return, then YES it will. You don’t need to go back to know that the bad stuff will always be negative for you.
4. Boundaries Rock. Boundaries are those little lines you draw that keep the bad stuff out and help you keep the good stuff in. You don’t need to change your boundary because someone else demands it or because you’re all different now. Countries don’t go changing their borders without major fighting and lots of counsel, and neither should you. You set the boundary for a reason. Remember the reason (see Stop the Fantasy).
5. Love Yourself. I know, I know, we’re supposed to love our neighbor. That’s definitely important, but let us not forget the second half of that, “as yourself.” I’m not saying to be self-absorbed. Just be kind to yourself. Let go of guilt. Let go of any need you might have to punish yourself, and extend to your own heart the care and kindness you extend to others. Take care of your heart, so you can fully love God and others.
6. Know What You Want. If you don’t know what you want in life, someone else will figure that out for you. It’s okay to not know. But it’s not okay to turn the keys over to your neighbor. Your life. Your responsibility. You have a lifetime to figure this out, so stay at it.
7. Keep Looking Forward. We learn from the past. We see who we were, and we grow, but that is not where life happens. Keep your eye on the prize. Who do you want to be? How do you want this to work out? Keep hoping. Keep moving forward. Even if it’s only a tiny, little bit, keep moving forward.
8. Change Happens. But that doesn’t mean you can just go back untouched. Sometimes I think we want to test ourselves to see if we’re really different. But those tests come our way as God allows. We don’t need to go looking for them. Believe in the changes and growth you’ve experienced. It all has not been for nothing. God makes sure of that.
9. Be Real. No way around it. Being honest is freedom. So if you really want to go back to the bad stuff, be honest about it with God and/or someone you trust. Hiding never helps.
10 Believe God. He is the author and perfector of our faith. He is the great physician. He will help you. God is who he says he is, and he can do the things he says he can do. You are who God says you are, and you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. (Thank you Beth Moore, Believing God) Believing God isn’t a feeling. It’s a choice.
Don’t go back. It’s not worth it. You went through that war, and now you’re free. Your future is ahead of you. Not back there. Grab ahold to the hand of God and dream for more than the past.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43: 18, 19