I look back, and then I look forward.
I've been journaling on and off my entire adult life. I think it began during my pregnancies. I started a journal for Zechariah and Madeline from the moment I found out I was pregnant. Actually, with Madeline, it began when I first starting praying for her. I'm so thankful I have those journals. I can look back and remember the emotions and anticipation with each doctor's visit and approaching deliveries. They are a treasure.
Some time later, I don't remember exactly when, I began journaling my prayers and conversations with God. I haven't remained consistent, there are silent years, but I know I think and process through writing.
It's a faith builder to look back on something I prayed and know it's been answered. There are also instances where I wrote down something I heard God saying, but in the moment didn't see the big picture or realize the full meaning. Years have passed in some instances, but when I experience what He spoke to me, I receive validation of being His sheep and hearing His voice.
And, honestly, my journals are a whole lot of beautiful ugly. That's why I decided to post some of my journal writing on the Beautiful Ugly page. It's hard for me to read entries from five years ago and realize I'm struggling with the SAME THINGS! I want to believe I've come further than that. I want to believe I've been healed, changed, and made new in those places. It can feel ugly to be stuck in repetitious patterns.
The pages of my journals are filled with praising, lamenting, more lamenting, and more praising. Beautiful. Ugly. Ugly.Beautiful.
I've written from my lowest places - wondering why I'm here and not really wanting to live. I read those words and cringe. I want to scribble over them so I don't see them again and so no one else sees them. But, I don't. Because it's truth. It may be ugly, but it's where I've allowed myself to end up at times.
I've written from my highest places - filled with joy and purpose. Praising God for His many benefits and blessings. Sharing excited news of answered prayers, new beginnings, and a hopeful future.
Yesterday, Robert and I took Zugspitze on his first real hike. I was longing to hike some of the Ptarmigan Lake trail, a trail with personal history, where I return to over and over because of how God has used it on my life journey. I've seen and experienced things on my hikes to Ptarmigan that speak to my heart as Jesus' Beloved.
So, after our hike, and once we got home, I searched for a specific journal with a specific entry:
Ptarmigan Lake is one of my favorite hikes right now. The woods are truly mythical. The path, the trees, the smells, the moss, the ground cover, flowers, butterflies, birds, chipmunks, rocks. Yesterday felt like a little piece of heaven. I knew that it was a glimpse of the place Jesus is preparing for me. With of course, my log cabin and lake! (That's something for me to explain another time.)
When Lisa and I hiked to the lake the weekend before, she reminded me to stop and look back. I am getting better at keeping my head up and looking around me - even looking up - but I need to practice looking back at where I just came from.
I have been meditating on Isaiah 43:18-19: "Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert."
God has shown me the difference between "calling to mind" and "pondering" and looking back to see His faithfulness and lovingkindness. As it says in Isaiah 63:9b, "In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, and He lifted them and carried them all the days of old."
When I go back in my Bible to where I underlined Isaiah 43:18-19, I also wrote the date 10-22-11. This was right after Chris left. I wasn't sure at that time what the Lord's promise would look like. Was something new going to happen in our marriage? Now it is nearly 2 years later. That is hard to believe. Many times it felt excruciating - this "doing something new." However, as time goes on, it is apparent that something new is happening in me. In my mind. In my heart. In my soul. I'm experiencing growing pains, but I know it is well worth the final outcome. I look back, and then I look forward.