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Looking Back, Looking Ahead

January 1, 2024


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As I get back into the groove of writing blog posts, thoughts arose about what to write: a simple “Happy New Year’s” and “I’m on vacation…see you next week”? Yet as thoughts of personal development form in my own mind, realizations of failures and lessons learned and upcoming dreams, the words flowed as I sat down to type during my afternoon work time.


Nothing profound resides here but gentle, stirring reminders…mainly to myself. If you have ever wondered, I am perhaps the person who most needs the little lessons I try to share in this space.

Little me is often in the greatest need of growing, and I hope that by sharing my heart, someone else may be spared the hard road so often chosen by my stubborn heart.


Sometimes love is what actually pricks me and prods me, moving me along in the right direction, like the faithful words of a caring friend. As scripture reminds me often, I need to be reminded of the truth.


 

This time of year stirs memories in my mind, memories of Christmases past, like the snowcapped scenes from Dicken's “A Christmas Carol”. Recent memories of the year newly gone dance in my mind, some like impish elves reminding me of failures and others, more elusive, call me to remember victories won and milestones achieved.


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It’s important to look back and remember accomplishments. As Mrs. Pat Berg said in her perfectionism seminar, it’s easy to have “success amnesia” and forget all of the accomplishments of the year.


It’s also important to look back and honestly acknowledge failures. This can be hard, hard to work up the courage to look at the ugly face of failure, and even greater courage is required to dissect the failure and surgically remove the source.


I once had a lady tell me that my mind is like a raccoon—I just keep turning things over and over in my mind like a raccoon turning its food over and over in its hands. Letting go of struggles and failures is difficult for me, and many hours have flitted away in worry. Yet to move forward successfully, the wound of failure must be washed and dressed in order to heal properly.


While looking back is important both for self-reflection and purging, it’s important not to dwell too much on the past, either successes or failures. Life ever marches forward, and if I am to live forward-thinking, I must plan my next steps.


God’s Word tells us to plan for the future. In Luke 14:28-30 Jesus encourages His followers to count the cost of discipleship and shares a story of a builder preparing to construct a building.


For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,

Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

Through this simple yet universal illustration, Jesus teaches the importance of planning ahead, for without proper planning, goals will not be achieved.


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My rosemary is blooming right now! Crazy plant...that's the South for you.


Yet it’s important not to dwell so heavily on the future that we are no good right here in the present. I can be so forward thinking that I miss what is right under my feet, like looking ahead at a beautiful waterfall while tripping on the roots at my boots.


Life is a balance, and keeping the past, present, and future in check is also a balancing act, a rather tenuous one at times like a tight rope walker carefully measuring his next step. I picture the past, present, and future as animate objects attached to strings and then attached to me. All these creatures of the past, present, and future constantly tug on me, some more than others.


The string I should let least tug on me is the past. There’s not a thing I can do to change the past. “Learn from it and move on” is what several wise people have told me.


In a culture driven by the past and captured by the wrong choices of others in the past, I must break free. I cannot let my past wrong choices or the wrong choices of others hold me back from accomplishing what God has for me today. Do I have something yucky in my past? Cut the string. Be done with it. I must not let that thing from the past keep tugging at me, pulling me down. Move forward and on!


The string of the future lifts my spirits; it gives me hope for a brighter tomorrow. The string of the future gives me something to work for, a goal to achieve. Yet, as colorful as the string of the future is, I must not let it become a dangling carrot or a distraction to me in my current responsibilities.


The string I should probably give the most heed to is the present. What are my present responsibilities? What are my present goals? What are my present duties?


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My blueberry bushes...I just love their color right now!


Something my husband often reminds our children is, “Do your duty.” This statement is not unkind. It’s not meant to be mean. It’s not self-serving on our end as parents. We are simply trying to teach our children that every person alive with capability has responsibility. We each have tasks to do, and the sooner we cheerfully embrace our God-given tasks, the fuller and richer our lives become.


Can I share a secret with you? The deepest, richest gratification in life comes from doing my duty. Oh, it’s not always fun, and often my heart grumbles. But when I lay my head on my pillow at night knowing I accomplished God’s will for the day, a sweet satisfaction fills my heart as sleep overtakes me. Sweet joy comes from accomplishing the work God laid out for my day!


 

Dear friend, what plans lay before you this year? What goals do you have for this year? May God enable you and strengthen you to fulfill whatever loving purposes He has planned for you!


-Ashley


Personal Disclosure

As the author of Ashley Qurollo Blog, all opinions are my own. Any possible applications are universal in nature, not directed at any one individual or people group. My sincere desire is to help others by sharing what I am learning. Nothing stated on this blog is ever intended to hurt others. Ashley Qurollo, owner of Ashley Qurollo Blog and Website, is not held liable in any way for any application of the ideas and thoughts stated here.


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