As we continue in the new year, turning a new page seems to be harder and harder. Either we have a desire to go back, or we feel stuck in a moment with an inability to move on.

There are moments this past year I wish to let go because they hurt: a mistake, failure or loss. I do not want to look back, but my mind has not allowed me to move forward. Why?

We all have past moments, events, relationships where our minds keep pulling us back, where moving on does not seem to be an option. We continue to waste our time and energy trying to press something down, only to have it come back up, asking, “Why can’t I stop thinking about this thing?”

I know it seems counterintuitive and countercultural to look back and acknowledge the things of the past. We are a culture always pressing forward.

Question: Name one 80s action movie where the hero looks back at the mess and carnage they inflected? You cannot name one, because to look back just is not cool.

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But alas, we are not action heroes. It seems the more we try not to look back, the more we are bound to do so. So, we get stuck. We need the ability to engage the things that hold us bound.

This year, when that old moment comes to mind, I need courage and strength to look back and stare at the pain, hurt, mistake and failure. I am going to ask, “What does God want me to see?” I am going to open the Bible and read stories where God never abandoned or left his people, despite their pain, loss, mistakes and failures. If God can show up for them, God will show up for me.

Where would Moses be if he had never confronted the fact he murdered someone? Where would David be if he never admitted his adultery? Where would Peter be if he never fessed up to his denial, or Paul if he never accepted he was a catalyst for Christian persecution?

Not to look at these realities of the past would not allow them to move forward and rely on the Lord.

We cannot ignore the past and move into God’s future. By faith, we are given courage to look back and confess, knowing we are not our losses, failures and mistakes. We are now who God calls us to be, and we take the lessons learned to help those with those who are stuck move toward a better future.

Rev. Justin Fenger serves as the associate pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church in Park Rapids.