Photo credit: Shewanda Riley

Where are you living?  The past, the present or the future?   As we begin 2023, many of us are still looking at 2022, 2017 or even further back. There is nothing wrong with being nostalgic and thinking about great memories.   However, there is a problem when looking back causes us to get stuck overanalyzing past events and experiences.   Or worse, if we are living in the future, we may find ourselves becoming anxious about what could happen and what ifs.

Think about Lot’s wife…she had her own battles with struggling with living in the past and in the future.  Genesis 19 describes how the angels came to Lot and warned him of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  They specifically told him not to look back at the punishment that was to come to the wicked city. Lot, who was hesitant, had to be urged by the angels to flee and not look back.  Hearing all of this, Lot’s wife was probably asking herself “Why do we have to leave now?  Surely it can’t be that bad.” The next thing you know she was a pillar of salt. She was afraid of what was ahead but also afraid of leaving the familiar behind.  Genesis 19:26 says, “But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”

The New Testament also speaks of the issue of looking back in Luke 17:31-33, “On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”

Looking at my own life and some recent circumstances, I can understand how Lot’s wife was tempted to look back.  It sometimes seems easier to focus on what you are familiar with than to embrace the unfamiliar. What I’ve learned is that at those times when it is hardest to stop looking backwards, we have to rely on faith to live with gratitude and acceptance in the present.

Through a recent of chain of unexpected events, I also found myself tempted to look back and wonder what I was leaving behind.  Despite the fact that God had made it clear in a number of ways that it was time to move on, I still was fighting the nagging urge to move forward. I knew they weren’t the best circumstances, but I still wasn’t ready to move on. And the future is scary!  

Now I realize that living with regret of the past and fear of the future is rooted in unresolved issues including insecurity and rejection. Isaiah 43:18-19, reminds us to “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” I continually strive to be intentional about living in the present.  I have to be grateful for what is and not be distracted by fears of what could happen.    

Shewanda Riley (Aunt Wanda), PhD, is a Fort Worth-based author of “Love Hangover: Moving from Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.”   Email her at or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.   You can also listen to her podcast at