It’s important to look back. We learn from the past. We need to understand how we got where we are. We have so many lessons to learn and insights to gain.
However, we need to be careful when we look back so we don’t unnecessarily traumatize ourselves. Let’s never take the lazy approach and resist revisiting the past, claiming it would be too painful or we’ve moved beyond it, when there is available healing that will help us in our todays. Let’s also not pack our bags and move into the past because, as traumatizing as it is, we find comfort there, and we don’t want to move beyond it. Only God and his wisdom can help you determine the next steps forward, even if it involves looping into the past for brief revisits. Sometimes we can only continue movement forward with our honesty with what we’ve experienced. As we grow, we are capable of healing more deeply and completely. We’re able to reflect with developed insight and wisdom.
For example, there is a moment someone slaps us in the face or presses the detonator, whatever it is that opens our eyes to something we didn’t know. It’s overwhelming. It hurts. But at some point we begin to breathe again and look back to try to make sense of things. Some of our efforts can help us deal with the reality of the situation. But there are many times we can’t know all the pieces. We can draw connections from the past and present to help us heal, but drawing connections can also be detrimental. Some people look into the past and rewrite it in an effort to justify things they have done, people they’ve hurt. The strings that connect one thing to another aren’t accurate—only convenient—for the person controlling their own narrative. Other people look into the past so frequently in an effort to make sure every detail is relived and processed that they end up tangling themselves in knots, keeping them in the unhealthiness of the past instead of moving forward.
Neither approach—moving forward with deception or moving backward with overwhelming regret or anger—is healthy or production.
We don’t want to rethink and reassess while piling up pieces that burden and paralyze us. We don’t want to manipulate the snapshots to place them in a timeline and context that makes us feel better about ourselves. We want to be honest with our healing. At least, that’s what we want if we desire healthy healing that gives us freedom. That’s what we want when we’re listening to and helping others through their healing process.
Healing is like backstitching. It’s a sewing stitch. The stitch goes backwards on the top side of the fabric and doubles forward on the bottom, coming out farther in front, then repeats. It’s a tight, secure, and (theoretically) neat stitch. It takes a lot of practice, and it is often crooked or uneven. Like healing, when the human factor is involved, it will be messy and difficult. Despite the imperfections, the progress is forward. Looping back is consistent. It’s an important factor of what makes the stitch secure. Like healing: our present can be strengthened through the process of reflection the past, but it also makes some tangles and messes.