Many say we must let go of the past in order to embrace the future. While it is true we should never allow the past to keep us from moving forward, if remembered with the right perspective, remembering the past can actually benefit our future. Rather than being stuck when we consider it, we can learn from it. History should teach us how to move forward. I have considered both my good days and my bad days, and they have taught me much.
Paul said in Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (KJV). Notice it says all things. I've heard my husband compare all things working together to baking a cake. You can't eat each ingredient individually and then say you've had cake. Neither can you leave out ingredients you don't like. Making a cake requires mixing multiple ingredients together. All the ingredients work together to make something that is good. The same is true for those who love Him and who are called by Him. God uses all of our experiences to make something good that can fulfill His purpose. When comtemplated with the right perspective remembering the past will help us understand this truth rather than make us bitter and bound.
Consider what Joseph told his brothers: "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today" (Genesis 50:20, ESV). If you read the story of Joseph you'll find he had plenty of unpleasant experiences before he became second in command in Egypt. He could have considered the negative ingredients of his life from a bitter perspective and refused to help his brothers. He could have been vengeful and unforgiving. But, instead, he remembered with the right perspective. He understood the purpose of his past and made meaning out of it.
I admit sometimes I wish some ingredients had been left out of my journey. I also sometimes wish I could have cherry picked the experiences I wanted. But if either had happened, I wouldn't be who I am today, nor would I be able to fulfill the purpose God created me to fulfill. So, I look back without regret and learn to empathize, forgive, persevere, have faith, and to love God, myself, and others.
I am not merely the sum of my experiences, though they play an important role in who I become. The ingredients for a cake don't come together on their own and then bake themselves. The baker has to turn on the oven, gather the ingredients, put the ingredients in the bowl, mix them together into a batter, pour the batter into a baking dish, put the dish in the oven, set the oven timer, then remove the cake from the oven when it is finished baking. Furthermore, for the cake to be right it has to respond appropriately to whatever the baker is doing.
God has taken my experiences and has worked them together to make my life into something good and full of purpose. The way I remember my experiences indicates my response. Every time I remember with the right perspective and engage in God's purpose meaning is made out of my journey. Considering what God has done with me so far, I have found my life with all of my experiences to be a life worth living. Because I know this, instead of holding me it its grip, remembering yesterday encourages me to take what I've learned and use it to embrace the future.