Remembering our past has the potential to erode our confidence in the present or strengthen our resolve. Nostalgia can make us feel shameful, bitter, and full of regret. However, thinking back on our lives can also breed insight and confidence for what is here and now.
When we think back on where we've come from and what we've gone through, we can see God's grace at work in our lives. Even though we may not understand why we suffered in a certain way or went through a particularly difficult experience, we can see that it has made us in to who we are today. God placed friends or mentors in our lives during those times for whom we can be grateful. He has seen us through to today. Trails tend to produce character and dependence on God. We can chose to be thankful for God's grace in our lives.
When we think back on our lives, it should produce in us humility. We've all made mistakes and we've all strayed from the truth in someway (that's what sin is). We didn't get to where we are today because we've had it figured out but because God has worked in our lives despite our failures. We can look back on our lives and be humbled by all the help we've received along the way. Even when we were babies, we were dependent on someone else to take care of us; whether it was a grandparent, a mom or dad, a brother or sister. This should produce humility in us.
As we look back at what we've been through, we should be able to gain perspective for today. Perspective allows us to think outside the box and not get tunnel vision. Many times the trials of today and this week seem pressing. This is what is commonly called the tyranny of the urgent. The demands in front of us seem crippling and force us to make decisions that may not be best. Looking back at what we've been through gives us hope and patience for the task(s) in front of us.
One of my favorite family traditions growing up was going to my granddad's cabin in the mountains. It was a place of retreat and peace. We also had a lot of fun. I think about these trips a lot. Many times, I can feel sad and depressed that I'm not able to go to the cabin as often as I'd like. I can become frustrated that I can't live the life I lived at the cabin every day. But instead of becoming bitter and full of regret (see Naomi) because of not having that, I can let that memory inspire me to plan well for future trips with my family, I can thank God I had those experiences, and I can be humbled by God's grace in providing such a wonderful place to retreat.