When you look back at your past regrets, mistakes and failures, you rob yourself of joy, peace, and fully living today. These tips on how to stop looking back so you keep moving forward will help you stay mindful and present.
Remember Lot’s wife? She looked back on Sodom and Gomorrah, and was destroyed. Genesis 19 tells us she was urgently warned to run for her life and not look back. “Run for your lives!” the angels said to Lot’s wife and family. “Don’t look back and don’t stop anywhere on the plain! Run to the mountains, or you will be swept away!”
Lot’s wife didn’t listen. She didn’t take the angels’ warning seriously. Perhaps she was distracted by what was happening behind her, or she was more comfortable dwelling in the past. The future is scary and unknown, after all! The past is familiar and comfortable. Lot’s wife didn’t know how to stop looking back and start moving forward…and she paid with her life. Don’t let the same thing happen to you. Don’t let your past destroy who you are today, and who God is shaping you to be tomorrow.
What do you see when you look back on your past mistakes, regrets and failures? Nothing good. When I look back I see words I shouldn’t have said, actions I shouldn’t have done, and mistakes I knew better than to make. I also see accidents, unexpected situations, and even betrayals by family and friends.
I also see lessons learned and insights gained. I see how I’ve grown and changed. One of the biggest, most important changes that I’m no longer haunted when I look back on my past. I’m encouraged, for I have come a long way.
Be encouraged! Take heart, for you are one step closer to living the full, deep life God has planned for you.
How to Stop Looking Back and Start Moving Forward
This article is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project, and it’s inspired by Genesis 19. So much happens with the angels, Lot, and Sodom and Gomorrah — I had a hard time figuring out what to write about. The angels fascinated me because they changed their minds and didn’t know everything about Lot’s family (Genesis 19:3 and 12). Lot interested me because he saved the angels from the men of Sodom and Gomorrah, and was called righteous by Peter (1 Peter 2:7-8). Yet, he seemed so lost and foolish!
Then I learned that Jesus said, “Remember Lot’s wife” in Luke 17:32. That settled it: I had to write about how Lot’s wife looked back and was changed into a pillar of salt. There’s something about her that we need to remember and apply to our own lives. She can teach us at least three ways to stop looking back and start moving forward.
You don’t have to believe in God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit to benefit from my tips on how to stop looking back and keep moving forward in your life. Just keep an open mind and consider new possibilities! An impulse — God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit — brought you here. Stay, read, and reflect.
1. Be alert and responsive to new beginnings in your life
In Genesis 19 God sent the angels to save Lot’s wife from Sodom and Gomorrah. They urgently told Lot and his family to flee, escape, run for their lives! The signs were all there: the city was corrupt, the people abusive, the culture unhealthy. Lot and his family weren’t happy living there…yet it wasn’t easy for them to leave. Lot’s wife in particular couldn’t let go of the past, couldn’t stop herself from looking back. She couldn’t move forward because she wasn’t responsive or interested in the new life God had planned for her and her family.
What signs of new life are sprouting for you today? Here’s the most obvious one: you are here on She Blossoms, reading my tips for moving forward. This is a sign that it’s time for you to stop looking back. This is how God moves in your life, how Jesus helps you remember who He is and why He gave His life for you. The Holy Spirit is moving in your life; reading these words is just one teeny tiny sign of His presence. What other seeds has He planted? Look at your life. What is God doing, how is He speaking, who is He bringing into your midst?
2. Take one step forward
Lot’s wife had to stop walking — or at least slow down — when she looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah. She couldn’t keep moving forward while watching the fiery destruction of the city, of God’s wrath, of her past. Lot’s wife wasn’t focused on her future or even her next step. Her eyes were fixed on the past, and it destroyed her.
How does looking back affect your forward momentum? I’m asking you about your own life. Be specific and literal. When you think about your past, what are you not thinking about? When you look back at what you did or didn’t do, what are you neglecting right now? Here’s an example from my life: I regret not getting my Master of Divinity when I had the chance to move and go to school anywhere. I often find myself looking back at how and why I decided to get my teaching degree instead…and this stops me from moving forward into a new decision in my life. What about you — how are your thoughts affecting your forward movement?
3. Don’t believe everything you think
What was Lot’s wife thinking when she looked back on Sodom and Gomorrah? A difficult, sad possibility is that she was felt bad and sad for the people who were being destroyed. She probably had friends, neighbors, even kindred spirits who she liked. Maybe Lot’s wife was soft-hearted, looking back and grieving not just who and what she lost, but grieving for the people who were perishing. I don’t know what Lot’s wife was thinking when she looked back on Sodom and Gomorrah, but it cost her her life. And Jesus urges us to remember Lot’s wife not because of her thoughts but because of her actions.
How are your thoughts affecting your emotions and decisions? I recently learned that some of our thoughts are from the deceiver, satan. Other thoughts are from Jesus, the Holy Spirit, God. Still other thoughts are from our own selves, other people, random events, sights, the world. But not every thought should be claimed or believed. Not every thought is good, healthy, beneficial! Our thoughts are powerful — they affect our emotions, moods, attitudes, words and decisions — but they don’t have to control us. In fact, we have the power and the authority to decide which thoughts will control us, and which we can release.
Choosing to grow forward when you can’t go back is about being aware of your thoughts. You can stop looking back and keep moving forward when you choose which thoughts to grasp…and which to let go of.
Speaking of thoughts — your big and little ones are welcome below!
With His love,
P.S. Are you having trouble letting go of someone you love? Read How to Move On When You Want to Go Back.