Looking back, moving forward

I’ve had an encounter with the word reflection three times over the last week. It’s been like running into an old friend over and over. This word clearly chased me down so I decided it’s appropriate to pay it homage in this week’s blog.

Reflection is defined as giving something serious thought or consideration. The prefix “re” means back or again and “-flect” means bend (think flex), coming from Latin roots. So I would define reflection as this: Taking time to look back on something with the intent of using it to change (bend) how we will do things moving forward.

Earlier this week it was announced that Luke Perry had a massive stroke and was hospitalized. A couple days later the world found out that he had passed away. The world seemed to mourn the loss of a man who, in the 1990s, personified a James Dean-like bad boy image that caused girls to swoon. My friends and I were in college when 90210 premiered and we would have watch parties in our college dorm to catch up on the soap opera-like drama. We ate it up!

My best friend, Wendy, and I liked the show so much that we ended up flying out to LA to take part in a 90210/Melrose Place charity event that featured several cast members and the show’s producer, Aaron Spelling. My boss let us bring his daughter with us and my brother lived in California at the time so he met us there with one of his buddies. We had a lot of fun together.

I decided to see if I could find the pictures from that trip. One photo box led to another and soon I was looking at pics of me and my FH (former husband). I found an old book with letters and notes he had written me. Then I found our honeymoon and wedding albums. I quickly flipped through those, trying to find a healthy balance to my thoughts and reflection. I’ve learned the art of “skimming” when it comes to memories and keepsakes that deserve acknowledgment but not affection. In other words I think it’s healthy to provide space for these things but we don’t have to make room in our hearts to store them. It’s the balance of finding a sweet memory without letting your heart go to a place where it’s overwhelmed with sadness and grief (there was a time for that earlier in my journey but I’m past that now).

Those of you who know me know that I don’t have a big social life. If I’m to be honest, I choose to spend much of my time working (I love my job) and investing in my kids (I really love them) during my parenting time. I also love to spend time with my family and occasionally I get to hang out with friends. This week I had the opportunity to connect with a dear friend who has a big place in my heart even though we don’t get to see each other often. We went to coffee and caught up on all aspects of life. She’s back in school and I always love to hear what she’s up to and what she’s learning because I always glean a lot from her. She is an amazingly talented in her role as a mother and student and also in her career.

I sometimes pull out my phone when I’m visiting with someone because I like to capture a thought or something that strikes me in the conversation. With this particular friend, I pulled my phone out several times to make notes so I wouldn’t forget. I really enjoyed our time together and felt like she shared a lot of things that spoke to me. At one point our conversation led into a discussion about reflection and I wrote down three thoughts she shared that I have been thinking about this week. I’ll share them briefly here.

WHEN YOU REFLECT, YOU GROW

This is a concept that I have tried to incorporate into my life and into the lives of my boys and I write about it a lot in my blog. It’s the idea of analyzing and owning our decisions and then making admissions and adjustments that push us towards personal growth. I was talking to one of my besties yesterday about a difficult interaction she had with someone recently. I love her perspective on this…she looks at challenging relationships and situations as opportunities to ask God what He’s squeezing out of her. She constantly analyzes her encounters with people and sees things from a perspective of “what do I need to change?” What a healthy approach! My go-to response to conflict with others is “well if you could only see this from my perspective.” LOL, I clearly need to work on this.

WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER (ONLY IF YOU REFLECT)

I’ve been chewing on this so much. My journey would have looked much different had my counselor not taught me how to dissect and evaluate my experiences. I took this assignment SO seriously. Week after week I would walk into her office with notes, thoughts and goals. I was fully invested in this painful process of inspecting my pain, finding the treasures and discarding the waste. I gleaned everything I could from every moment in counseling because I knew that my journey could go either way. I pulled in all aspects of hurt and disappointment from my past so I could evaluate and own what was mine. This process was so key to my healing.

REFLECTION CRAFTS MEANING OUT OF EXPERIENCE

This week has been a reminder that HOW I DEALT WITH MY PAST has affected HOW I AM LIVING MY LIFE TODAY. As I look back, I realize that my pain was a stepping stone to my present, but that I could have easily chosen to walk in a different direction. Thankfully God was leading me and I had the support of dear friends, family and an incredible counselor. Those old pictures and memories that I saw this week represented a sweet time in my life that gradually turned into something very difficult. And although they don’t define who I am today, they certainly represent events that have led me to this very sacred place of love, forgiveness and acceptance.

In my Bible study this week my dear friend Nicole (who is also the leader) shared that we are the most over-informed but under-reflective society. This next week I’m going to take a little break from the outside noise to continue my journey of gratitude and reflection. Let’s take time to look back so we can move forward in the most healthy way possible.

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If you know someone who could benefit from this post, please share. God carved out a path of intense healing for me and I would like to share it with as many people who need or want to hear. 

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