Moving on is different from moving forward. I know several people who have been hurt by the words, “You need to move on/It’s time to move on.” How? When we’re in the process of grief, betrayal, forgiveness, or healing, we can’t just drop it all, as if those emotions and experiences don’t exist. However, we also don’t want to get stuck in a debilitating quagmire.
Moving on ignores the past, including both successes and failures. Moving forward honors successes and failures, learns from them, and builds on them. Moving on minimizes the pain of the past while usually inflating the accolades. It usually positions ourselves in the best possible light, and we call it being hopeful, when our attitudes toward others and restructuring of reality belies that hope. Moving forward keeps today in the context of yesterdays and tomorrows, taking responsibility for the past while healing toward the future. The hope we have is one that includes health, which involves having the tough conversations, asking for and learning through the forgiveness process, and wrestling with questions, doubts, and shifting perspectives as we grow. Moving forward never minimizes or inflates. It glances in the rear view mirror to know what’s behind us while looking at our immediate surroundings and keeping a steady pace as we look at the horizon. Because the perspective of the past, present, and future is always changing as we move forward. Moving on is more like wearing blinders. That might work for racehorses needing to focus on a specific race, but it will ensure we miss out on a lot around us. And we’ll probably blame others for not getting into our view or blame them for getting in our way. Moving on often involves a disregard for others, except a select few.
Sometimes, especially right after trauma, we have to shut down and simply survive. That is understandable. But as we come out of that and see pinpoints of light, what do we do? Once we begin to crawl out of the pit, what do we do? Do we move on or move forward? How we determine to take those next steps will make a difference in our lives and our faith.