We get the name January from the Roman god Janus who, much to his parent’s horror, was born with two faces: one facing forward, one looking back. And so, January is a time to look forward to the new year and back at the past.
Looking back at 2014, we see the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s brutal beheadings of men, women and children, racial tension and rioting surrounding the Ferguson shooting, the shooting down of a commercial plane over Ukraine and the Ebola deaths of thousands of West Africans.
But, the Bible urges us to look forward: “Do not dwell on the past” (Isaiah 43:18) and “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13b).
Remorse and regrets are obvious reasons not to dwell on the past. And, admitedly, there is much for which to grieve. But there are other subtle dangers of looking back:
We live in such a fast-changing world that if we do things in 2015 the way we did in 2014, we’ll be left in the dust. (If you’re an author or publisher, you know that change is happening at warp speed!)
Our personal lives and our relationships can stagnate if we rely on the past. If I’m not growing, I’m dying. And relationships need active care and nurture to grow and mature.
Unless we’re Janus, we are going to run into serious troubleand injuriesif we’re walking backward into the future. (Wow! I didn’t see that coming!)
So, I agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s advice:
Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on yesterdays.
Don’t look back! Keep looking to the future with hope and humor!
Copyright © 2010, 2014 James N. Watkins
My predictions for the new year