A Look Back

journal

In just a few short weeks my oldest daughter will be getting married. My dining room is filled with boxes and wedding supplies as she prepares for her big day. She and her fiance are busy fixing up an old house they were able to purchase. It is fun to watch them together, as they work on wedding plans and prepare to start their new life together. But it is also frustrating because my daughter lives here and her stuff is here, but she isn’t really here. Know what I mean?

And I wondered how I felt the summer before my August wedding? Was I as in love? Were my parents frustrated with me?

But I didn’t have to just wonder. I could actually look back. Because, as you may already know, most writers journal. And so I have some kind of record of my feelings about life since about 5th grade. I have pulled out those journals every great once in awhile as I have raised my teen girls.

So a few nights ago I decided to pull out my journal from the summer of 1988. I had not read those words since I had written them. It was strange to read the words of my former self. I am the same person. And yet, I am not the same person.

In those pages, I read about events and relationship dynamics that I had totally forgotten. And guess what? I had some of the typical problems with my parents, too, as an adult living at home. Only I had a different perspective back then. I had not remembered any of that.

It was also interesting to see what I had written about my future husband and myself and the problems I anticipated us having as we headed off into marriage. And all these years later, I could see that I was right. They were the problems that we have faced over and over again in our marriage.

As I told my husband about my insight into our future as a 22 year old, he jokingly said, “well, I guess you shouldn’t have married me.”

But I can honestly say that never crossed my mind. I’d marry him all over again in a heartbeat. And so I responded, “If it wouldn’t have been those problems, then it would’ve been different ones.”

Yes, we have issues. Every marriage does.  There is no perfect relationship. (Why do we think there will be? Could it be the romance novels we read? Or the chick flicks we watch? Why in the world are our expectations so high?)

But we work through them, one step at a time, with candor, forgiveness, a sense of humor, and total commitment.

And how gratifying to realize almost 26 years later, that we have made some progress. We are not the same people we were when I was writing all those years ago. We have changed and matured and become just a little bit more like Jesus as we have added years. Oh, those flaws flare up and still stare us both in the face sometimes, but it isn’t as often. And it isn’t as severe.

I don’t know if you have your life recorded in journals. If you do, why not pull one out and take a few moments and look back? See how far you’ve come. If you don’t, then just take a few moments and think about how far you’ve come. Whether you are 25 or 95, think about your past years. Has your marriage relationship improved over the years? Have you become more like Jesus? Praise the Lord if the answer is yes. The Holy Spirit is working to sanctify you, just as we believers are promised in scripture (I Peter 1:2). But if it is no, don’t despair! Start today to create a new future! One step at a time. It is never too late! (And remember, real and lasting change can only be found after our relationship with God has been made right. If you don’t know Him personally, please click here.)

Our future is created one moment at a time. We are given choices each and every day–we can choose our attitude, our responses, our reactions — and these small choices are what creates the person we will become.

I didn’t think so deeply back when I was writing that summer of 1988. I didn’t realize all of this. Now, looking back, I can see that the prayers of my parents and grandparents helped to keep me on the right track. So that’s my second point. Pray for your kids and grandkids. There is so much we don’t understand when we are young. And most of us don’t want to listen to anyone tell us about life. Let’s cover the young people we love with much prayer.

It was interesting to take a look back. And in some ways I’m jealous. Starting out in life sounds fun and exciting. But then I realize– I wouldn’t really want to go back and learn everything all over again. So, here I am, middle-aged and headed into the future. Still determined to become more like Jesus through the little choices I make every day. Failing daily, but always brushing myself off and starting over again!

 

3 thoughts on “A Look Back”

  1. It’s always so liberating to know that God doesn’t expect us to be perfect and that His love isn’t conditional!! I am so thankful that He forgives us over and over again, is patient with us, and allows us to make fresh starts every day! Now…if only I can keep that in mind when I get impatient and frustrated with my kids, my husband, others. You are right, Leslie. We are all a work in progress, at varying levels; and the rate at which we grow depends on our heart’s attitude and willingness to be taught! Lord, help me today, to be submissive to your will, humble, and teachable, and to extend grace to others as you have extended to me!
    Thank you, Leslie, for your thoughts!

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