We have all probably heard the saying, "Hindsight is 20/20". It is this idea of being able to look "back" on something and give all kinds of advice to either ourselves or others on how the circumstances could have turned out differently "if..." The issue is in the "if" - "if" we had done this differently, "that" should have been the outcome. Note, I said "should have been" the outcome - there is no guarantee that in "looking back" we can actually make an outcome different. What we can do is ensure we are ready for the same challenge in the future with a "different" plan of how we will encounter it. At best, we can hope the outcome will be different because we have a different plan. Hindsight is a useful tool for us because "after the fact" we can recognize new possibilities with a different response, or even understand the requirements of the circumstances we just did not recognize while we were in the midst of them. So, we need both wisdom when we "walk into" something, but we also need the benefits of "hindsight" to help us refine how we will face similar challenges in the future.
When you see trouble coming, don’t be stupid and walk right into it—be smart and hide. (Proverbs 22:3 CEV)
It is kind of a different matter when we see something coming our way and we recognize it for what it is, but do nothing to avoid a "head-on collision" with it! This is probably someone's definition of insanity, but it is what we all do on occasion, right? We see clearly that something is not going to be "good" for us, or that it will create a whole lot of emotional upheaval in our lives and those around us, but we ignore the "check" we feel deep within, plunging head-on into the midst of the very thing we should have "swerved" to miss! Whether it be avoiding sin, or staying clear of relationship issues which will give us a whole lot of heartache, we can only "avoid" it if we recognize it, right? So, part of steering clear of a head-on collision with something we don't really want to deal with is to learn to recognize it (no matter how it is "dressed up").
The idea of hindsight is actually a tool which helps us recognize similar "trouble" in our lives the next time it comes. We all know "trouble" wears many disguises, but learning how that "trouble" acts or presents itself will go a long way toward helping us to recognize it when it comes our way down the road again. Recognition is made up of a couple of parts: 1) the identification of something we have previous dealings with simply by the characteristics it manifests; and 2) the "realization" of something because you are keenly aware or paying attention. One without the other is kind of like having a nail and no hammer. The nail is okay, but when coupled with the hammer, the nail can actually serve us well! The hammer without the nail is useful, but if we need to put two things together, the hammer will never accomplish what having the nail can do!
The first part of recognition deals with us becoming so familiar with the characteristics of something we can almost identify it simply by the "adding up" of the characteristics we observe. A perfect example of this is how many of us in healthcare identify certain diseases. We rely upon what we hear, see, feel, and smell. Yes, smell! There is a big difference between the smell of various diseases - some manifest a sweeter, fruity odor, while others give off a pungent, almost putrid one. We use these characteristics of what we observe to assist us in determining which tests to perform to confirm our suspicion of a disease process. When it comes to relationship issues, we have a chance to "look back" on the things which did not work well in a relationship - like the time we criticized someone's attempt at doing something new, or the moment we took someone "down a notch" by our anger. These are characteristics of "bad relationship" moments we can learn from, but only if we look back and begin to recognize the moment things began to turn from good to bad. We then "bank" these recognized "relationship breakers" in our memory and work on a way to avoid doing them again when similar relationship moments come up.
The second part of recognition is probably the hardest. It is easy to look back, but it is quite different to be so keenly aware of the moment passing right now that we avoid the head-on collision with what is probably heading our way at this very moment. It is the idea of being "present on purpose" which we have the hardest time actually "living out" in our lives each day. We get distracted by other demands and miss the thing hurtling out of control in our direction. When we begin to be "present in the moment", we are often more engaged in relationship, whether it be our relationship with Jesus, or our relationship with one another. Either way, we begin to pick up on the subtle changes which are occurring which demand our immediate attention - and we take action upon them. We draw closer to Jesus, listen more intently to what he is teaching. We see the intent of a heart determined to try something new and encourage them even when they don't get it perfect the first time. We can do these things because we are present in the moment - our attention is focused. Just know this - whatever holds our focus will determine our outcome. Ignore something long enough and it will soon be out of our control!
So, it isn't that we don't see trouble coming our way - we just don't learn from the past, or we don't take time to experience the present. Either way, we are hit "head-on" with a whole lot of stuff we probably would have wanted to avoid if we could. Just sayin!