The Long Look Back
It is hard—very hard—to let go and move on. Transitions are hard work.
In the story of Lot and his wife leaving the city where they had built their home (Gen. 19:15–26), they were told by the angels not to look back. Yet Lot’s wife still stopped and looked back. Who can blame her? She’d just left all of her possessions behind (perhaps special ornaments, flowers, pottery), and she turned back with one lingering look.
Scripture tells us she was turned into a pillar of salt. This is a startling and almost unbelievable story, but it serves as a reminder for all of us facing transitions and longing for the past. It speaks to those of us who may find ourselves in lonely emotional spaces, forced to cut ties to something we enjoyed or loved.
Whether these transitions are by choice or have been forced upon us, ties to the past are hard to sever. First of all, there is the grief, however big or small, which needs to be dealt with. If the transition is unexpected, we might also experience more violent reactions such as shock, anger, or depression. It is natural to want to look back for comfort—that one long last look. Treasuring beloved parts of one’s past is a good and healthy thing. But the danger of looking back too long or too fervently is that we can end up stuck. Like a proverbial pillar of salt, ever looking backward and with no forward movement.
I once, half-jokingly, asked my psychologist son when I would need to come and see him for treatment. He smiled and said, “When you are stuck. When you are stuck, you need to seek help.” I don’t think there is a more accurate truth. As long as we are moving forward through life, whatever our speed, we are making eventual progress toward a new and better place—a place where God will meet us and refresh us.
Wilma Derksen is the author of The Way of Letting Go: One Woman’s Walk Toward Forgiveness. You can find her at WilmaDerksen.com or follow her on Facebook.