I got a call the other day from my old life. Someone called about something I had done while I was at my last job. It wasn’t a big deal and I wasn’t very helpful, since it had happened about 3 years ago and my memory is like swiss cheese. But it got me to thinking.
I left that job with the Attorney General’s office less than a year ago, but it almost seems like forever. Which is kind of weird. You’d think it would be more immediate since I worked there for 20 years and really enjoyed almost that entire time. But it’s pretty much gone. I still stay in touch with some of the people, although that’s becoming less frequent. Someday it’ll probably stop and it will be like that chapter of my life never happened, or maybe more like it’s frozen in amber as a relic of the past. Been there, done that, moved on.
As I look back on that job and then I look at where I am now, and I am struck by the differences. I am in such a different place now. Literally. I’m living and working in Jarrell, rather than living in Round Rock and working in Austin. I’m preachin’, not lawyerin’. Instead of working in a 15 story office building downtown I work mostly from home. Instead of having to account for every minute of every day, I’m pretty much trusted to do what needs to get done. It’s just different.
Those differences then got me to looking even further back: to my kids as they grew up, to my marriage, to my schooling, to growing up with my mom and dad and brothers and sisters, and all the differences between all those different times of my life.
I’m not much for looking back. I don’t do it that often. I live pretty relentlessly in the present and the future, so I manage to get through most of the day pretty much blind to the changes I’ve been through. But I think it’s probably a good thing every once in a while to look back and see how (or whether) we’ve changed.
One of the hallmarks of my faith tradition, Methodism, is the idea of sanctifying grace (or, as I call it, Jesus-ification). Of course, it’s not unique to Methodism, it’s just something we stress. This is the idea that once we’ve accepted God’s invitation to live in God’s divine love by putting our trust in Jesus, God comes to dwell within us. And then, we spend the rest of our lives working with (and sometimes against) the Spirit of God that dwells within us to transform us more and more into the image of Christ; to get to the point where we don’t have to ask ourselves, “what would Jesus do,” because we’re allowing the Jesus within us to do it.
I think maybe part of the reason that I get so absorbed in the present and the future is that I don’t want to look back and track that transformation in my own life. I’m a little scared of what I’ll see. And I bet I’m not alone. Maybe that’s part of why our culture seems to just be getting busier and busier.
But when I actually do look back, especially all the way back, I can see so many areas where God has been working on me to turn me into a different and better person than I used to be. Of course, there is still a LONG way to go, but I look at Jesus-ification as a process. I don’t expect to get all the way there in this life. But I’m really starting to enjoy the ride.
So I’m going to try to be a little more intentional in taking time to look back. I certainly don’t want to live in the past. I like where I am now better. But it never hurts to remember where you’ve come from.