Should we really be “forgetting the past”?

We’re a solid week into 2018 and there’ve been too many “Look to the future” and “focus on your dreams” memes for me to keep silent.


I’m all for looking forward. I’m a dreamer. You know me…I love dreaming up new adventures and clinging to hope because I truly believe that hope is in everything–every day, every moment, every person. I think it’s important to breathe in the newness of each day and the promises that come with it.

But that doesn’t mean we should ignore the past.


Yes, there are probably things in our pasts that we should not dwell on. We all have shadows and heartaches. But there are good things in the past, too. Because the past is our story. And it can often be a testament of story-threads that we don’t see until we face it full-on.

This is why I journal. To remember. To be able to look back because I can’t trust my story to only my memory.

Have you ever had that moment when you wrote down a prayer or asked for prayer for something and looked back at that request two months later and realized that God had answered that prayer in powerful ways and you hadn’t even recognized it? That happens to me all the time, and I only spot it when I look back.

God doesn’t ever command us to forget. In fact…

Every year, I keep a list of the big things that have happened that year, and frame it and give it to Mister Ninja. And every year we have similar reactions like, “Oh, wow! I forgot about that!” or “Wow…a lot happened last year.”

I don’t know about you, but my favorite posts to read from others on the new year are the “looking back” posts. Yes, I love the “looking forward” posts, too, but a little red flag goes up when all I see are memes or inspirational quotes about “the future the future the future” because it seems to go against everything.

It seems to be denying the fact that we have a story already. And the future will only be adding another layer of paint onto the incredible backdrop we already have.

Everything in balance, my friends. The past has heartaches, I know. But so does the future. Let’s not forget that both of them also hold blessings and beauty.

This was just a little nugget on my heart this last week. Thank you for letting me share.

How about you?

How do you feel about looking to the future, versus looking back at the past?


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About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. That Trelawney gif though 😀

    This was a great post, Nadine. I love looking to the future (I’m kind of a pre-planner, I tend to have things planned out for what’s ahead xD), but I also love looking back at the past. There are so many great memories back there that are going to be forgotten if none of us bother to remember. And I agree about loving ‘looking back’ type of posts! And I always have so much fun going back through my own Monthly Highlights posts xD.

    Thanks for sharing this, Nadine. I loved the reminder to remember the beginnings of our stories, too, not just thinking about what our next chapter is 😉 .

  2. Clare L Farrelly

    This post is so encouraging! I have just been doing some looking back and reading through old journal entries, old photos and remembering good times and bad times and enjoying it, seeing how much I have changed and how much is still the same. I love the way you worded that all especially “we have a story already. And the future will only be adding another layer.”

  3. Thank you for this post!
    Just today, I was reading through my prayer journal, not because of the new year – I was just curious what I had been writing about in recent months. And – this always happens – I was amazed to see where I’ve come from and how God showed Himself strong on my behalf. I was crying out for His help and mercy and His answer was basically, “I’m here with you; I won’t let you fall.”
    So I love looking back and seeing what God’s done in my life. <3

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