In reading the Big Book of AA, page 86, it states that “we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others.” I have long struggled with this concept in recovery. The thought popped into my head the other day while standing in the kitchen about salt and Lot’s wife.
The story, for those fuzzy on it or unfamiliar, goes that Lot and his family were residents of a town in the old testament that was pretty “off the hook.” In fact, it was such a wretched hive of scum and villainy, that angels came to check it out, and could find no redeeming qualities outside of Lot and his family. A destruction order for the city was called in. The angels headed out of town, telling Lot and his crew to flee for their lives, don’t stop and not to look back.
Straight-forward instructions, with a divine deliverance from judgement, Lot and his brood headed for the hills. But Lot’s wife, who was less than thrilled with heading to God-knows where, leaving her cozy home where perhaps she had recently completed a bedroom remodel, decided to look back and was at once turned to salt. She ceased to be any good to her family, of course unless they wanted to use her to cure meats. Okay, that might be over the line, but you see where I’m going here. Looking back served no purpose. It separated her from her family. If you read on about Lot and what became of him and his daughters (GEN 19:30-36), you see some of the repercussions of this action. She and her family experienced the consequence of choosing to ignore God’s specific instruction.
So in recovery, one of our steps is to do an inventory, that’s looking back, right? Well, in a way, but it is for the purpose of shedding the baggage of the past, and then remembering it no more. Like the east is from the west. Sound familiar? That’s because it is. God remembers our confessed sins, covered by Jesus, no more. So why are we looking back at our failing from three months ago? The wrong that somebody did us last week that hurt our feelings that we didn’t take care of? These are the obstacles and barriers that can trip us up, and keep us from service like the Big Book says, and even start the slide toward stinkin’ thinkin’ and relapse.
Like I said , I struggle a lot (no pun intended) in this area. I have to remind myself frequently to speak out what is bothering me to my group or trusted accountability partners, so I can get some objective perspective on the matter. Especially if it’s old stuff. I need the correction of either going to the person involved and then being done with it, or, if I have already taken care of it and I am continuing to return to the scene of the crime, being challenged. Did I not sincerely forgive? Is there something in me that is still attached to the matter that I need to work out? Or, am I using this as a distraction or smoke-screen to avoid engaging something that I need to deal with in the here and now?
In a recent message I heard, which keeps echoing in my head, the pastor said “Quit looking behind you, you’re not going that way, it’s doesn’t matter what went on yesterday.” So true, yet so hard for my brain to wrap around.
Pulling all this apart when we feel stuck in the past can seem very intimidating without friends. So, get to a meeting, call your peeps and start writing down what has you looking backwards. Because there is a reason the rear-view mirror is smaller than the windshield of the vehicle, because our focus is supposed to be on where we’re headed.
Much love and looking FORWARD to the journey! 🚙