"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Going Forward Through the Past

By Micky Wolf

The idea of traveling through time is one which has fascinated people for generations. An entertaining trilogy of films featuring the character of Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, is no exception. Finding himself catapulted into the past—the days when his parents were fickle-in-love-out-of-love teenagers—he quickly realizes he needs to do everything he can to make sure these two people stay in love, and then decide to get married, otherwise he literally won’t be around to tell about it.

How many times have we thought or felt it would a great idea to go back to the past in order to assure—or in some cases alter—the course of the events of our present life? Conversely, how many times have we thought it would be a great idea to avoid, at all costs of time or energy, visiting anything that has to do with our past?

The truth of the matter is God sees the entirety of our days from a perspective only He can know and understand. And while we may not be able to jump into a shiny, time-traveling vehicle for whatever reason, choosing to visit our past, on occasion, can provide us with immeasurable blessings. By making the choice to move forward through the past and cooperate with the work of God within our hearts, time travel of this nature transcends the constraints of our earthly world, opening our soul to healing, transformation and new life beyond our wildest dreams.

What can we hope to discover by going forward through the past?

God is timeless and without limitation of time

As human beings, we live in mortal bodies. Born into this world, we live out the moments of time God has preordained for us. However, in being wonderfully made in His image and likeness, our soul—the essence of our being which animates all that we are and all that we do—lives on into Eternity. 

God did not breathe us into being, only to forget about us, or ignore us in the midst of the often tumultuous events that comprise an ordinary life. Because His love, mercy, and grace are not confined to our humanly defined measures of time, He can stir within us at any given moment. In those stirrings of our thoughts and feelings, He may impart wisdom, healing, or restoration of our body, mind, or spirit. 

What is our part? Being open and available, to be willing to actively participate in the ongoing growth and development of our relationship with Our Father, Jesus our Beloved, and the Holy Spirit, our companion and guide.

God desires to show us His presence in all moments

Whether in the moments of greatest light and consolation, or in the deepest, darkest experiences of desolation, God is aware of our joys and our tribulations. As a child, we may have found it exceedingly difficult to understand how God’s loving presence was possible in the midst of a family torn apart by abuse or addiction issues. Or, as we grew older and made choices which resulted in the sins of our youth, we question how—or if—God could really forgive us. Let alone a more challenging reality, that of forgiving self.

What is our part? Take some quiet time, on a regular basis, to reflect and pray, [in the beginning it can be helpful to have a mature, spiritual guide or companion] to revisit certain events—to be vulnerable and honest, as best as we can, in recalling our thoughts and feelings at the time of the experience. Learning to surrender to His presence in this way may initially seem a bit awkward, but He will be faithful to touch those tender places of our heart. Rebuilding trust with God, particularly if the experience of the past was hurtful and deeply wounding, is a process in and of itself and not one we want to rush. The goal is to keep moving forward, one baby step at a time, if necessary.

God desires to redefine our perceptions

Our perception of the sum total of our life—the things of the past, those unfolding in the present moment and of what is yet to come—is limited by the finiteness of being human. Those experiences and encounters we might be inclined to define as “failure or success” can be perceived quite differently from God’s point of view. He has the big picture. At best, we can see only specks of meaning on the canvas of His panoramic creation. 

What is our part? When we give God our time and and the space—physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually—He ministers His love, grace, and compassion in ways which bring a greater fullness of Truth to our hearts. It is easy for us to perceive failure or success in terms of specifics of accomplishment or lack thereof. Little do we realize, at times, the very things we believe reflect the most poorly on our nature and choices are, indeed, the occasions when He is able to shine the brightest and most effectively through you and I. Taking responsibility for unloving or sinful choices is one thing—allowing stumbles to define our goodness and badness is to put God in a box of our own design—and that is about as productive as trying to swat mosquitoes with a feather.

When we choose to include God in our journey of going forward through the past, the whole of our life can take on new meaning. The key is to visit, not over stay our welcome. 

Have you considered a visit to the past? Why, or why not?

How do you feel about allowing God to accompany you? Someone else?

How do you feel about being with God in joys of the past? Tribulations of the past?

Do you hesitate to go forward through the past? Why?    


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