I can only go forward, not back.
But looking back, evaluating what went well and what went not-so-well is still important. It has value because it can make me better, more effective, and, most importantly, more like Jesus.
And that's always my goal.
Ashley asked me this morning what I would do differently if I had it all to do over again. I told her I wish I have been more pleasant. That would have solved a lot of my problems.
It sounds so easy. We're pleasant to waitresses who serve us meals and folks we run into at school and coworkers who grate on our nerves. It probably makes you wonder why I couldn't be more pleasant to the new little one who moves in.
Because there's a big difference between the two. You see, the meal eventually ends, at some point we walk out of school and most of our co-workers are only with us 8 hours a day Monday through Friday.
But when you move someone into your home, it's every minute of every day. It's weekends and holidays and middle-of-the-nights. It's mornings filled with calls from teachers who can't control her and meetings with principals who want her moved. It's evenings of screaming and and door slamming and wishing for just a moment of quiet. It's mealtimes that resemble battlefields and bedtimes that never seem to come fast enough.
This is when I pipe in and remind everyone, including myself, that all of that lasts only for a season. The screaming and fits and long days are only a part of the beginning, even if the beginning seems to last a really long time.
All that eventually ends. One day you wake up and it's different. She's changed and you've changed. Smiles and hugs are no longer forced. Conversations aren't awkward and you don't dread waking her up in the mornings.
And when that time came for me and I looked back, I wished I had been more pleasant during those hard days.
Because now I like her. Because she was mine from the moment she walked in the door, but now I'm actually glad that's true.
Looking back becomes hard. Looking back reminds me that some days I was motivated by anger. Some days I was motivated by selfishness. Some days I didn't consider her at all.
Regret creeps in - followed closely by his friends, guilt and shame.
And I end up kicking myself for not handling it all well.
So what do I do? I do what I can to make it right.
I offer apologies and seek forgiveness from both God and from my girls and then I allow the grace of God to help me learn from it and move on.
I don't want them to watch me wallow in guilt and shame. I want them to watch me seek forgiveness and accept the grace that can only be found in the One who knows me best and loves me most.
We're all learning. We're all growing. Thankful for girls willing to forgive and move forward. Thankful for a fresh start every morning.