Wednesday, September 23, 2015

On Looking Back

Lately I've been spending a lot of time on campus. I'm getting my graduate degree from the same place I got my undergraduate and lately, it seems like I'm trekking to school, parking where I don't have to pay, and then hauling myself to class or a meeting--all just like the good old days--several times a week. My drives to and from school, as well as my walks have been very reflective over the past few months--but the reflection has evolved.

Basically, as I watched all of the students swarming campus the first week of school, I tried to find the girl like me in the crowd. And each time I thought I might have found her I would think to myself, "If I'd only known then, what I know now." 

And the list of things I wish I'd known is endless--but a few of the main things include:

I'd have had a hell of  a lot more confidence.

I would have made more friends--or at least started a lot more conversations with people. 

I would have flirted more.

I would have challenged my professors more and maybe even raised my hands more.

I would have paid more attention--a lot more attention. (I think every career has a learning curve, but I'm certain my struggles were partly due to my lack of attention to my schoolwork and classes). 

I would have stood in the mirror and named every part of my body and self that I appreciated.

I wouldn't have worried so much--especially about silly boys.

I would have known that everyone was struggling with insecurities and acceptance--that we're all so much more human than I ever knew. 

I would not have taken out student loans--even if it would take me 10 years to finish, I would have waited. It would have been so worth it. 

And while some times this reflecting makes me a bit sad--or maybe makes me feel like I missed out, I know that's not true. Everyone experiences a little hindsight now and then. And I'm grateful, at the very least, that I can look back and see that I've changed, and learned, and grown in the past 10+years. That's a good feeling at least. 

When school first started, I was struggling with a number of things--I won't really bore you with them now, but there were so many things weighing heavily on my mind. So when I'd do this reflecting, I was almost wishing. Wishing I had done things differently. Wishing I'd appreciated my body more. Wishing I had worked on some things when I had the time to really address them. A lot of wishing I could time travel just a bit. 

And then I remembered this talk a good friend of mine shared on her blog somewhat recently: Remember Lot's Wife. I love the message of this talk--encouraging us to move forward with faith and to stop looking back. Stop dwelling on decisions or pleasantries of the past, but continue moving forward to the future. 

"I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives."--Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Jeffrey R. Holland Faith

It speaks so much truth. When we've learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best we have experienced, then we look ahead. What an attitude to adopt! How much brighter does our future look if we constantly bring the beautiful things we've learned and experienced with us, as an attempt to move ahead and gain even more knowledge and experience even more beauty? 

So over the past few weeks, I've been thinking a bit differently when I reflect on the past. I've been thinking about the hard times I had--struggling acceptance, worrying about the future, a broken heart, and more. The beauty of it all, though, is what I actually remember from those times. 

Because the truth is, it doesn't matter how difficult or painful previous seasons of my life have been, I always look back with fondness. Whether it's the beauty of the people and the kindness that was shown, or the things I learned, or even how good the good times felt because of the difficult times I was going through.

So I've tried to adopt a new way of coping with hard times and a new way of reflecting on the things I've learned. When I'm going through a particularly hard time I instead ask myself, "What will I remember most when I look back on this time in my life?"

With some of my more recent worries/bothers, I've been thinking ahead--to when this season is over and I wonder what I'll look back on with happiness  or wonder what I'd wish I'd done more of. 

I see myself wishing I had been kinder to my body--as that's always a reccurrring theme. And so I have been working especially hard lately at doing just that. 

I see myself wishing I had endured with patience the worries of the financial future and just appreciated that I was home with my daughter. And so I've been working really hard on having hope and realizing that this is a season and that I will never regret being home--so I work a bit harder to embrace every day. 

I see myself looking back on our Saturday mornings laying in bed as a family and playing under the covers, breakfast each weekday-just me and my girl, exhausted evenings where Zach and I try to find a little time to connect before heading to bed, and so much more. I know I'll look back and see all that I've learned from this time in my life--especially about faith, patience, motherhood and teamwork in marriage. I will have learned so much and I will surely wish for parts of these days back--especially hearing a little girl babble all day and teaching her and watching her learn. These are sacred days--these days I dedicate myself to my home, marriage, and motherhood. What a privilege and a blessing. I will put all that I can into them so that I can get the most out of them when the season passes me by. I will  live my life in a way that allows me to move forward with faith-taking all that I can from each season with me. 

How do you feel about the past? Do you find yourself reflecting on it? 

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