Our past can leave scars.
Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is on its way, so why do we all have such a hard time letting go of the past? We all have a past. Some pasts include heartbreak, sorrow grief, distress, and failure. Others include glory, honor, success, and pride. I’d say however that most pasts include a little bit of both.
Have you ever felt stuck in the past? As if a past mistake or past hurt is a looming road block placed directly in front of you. Unmovable and impossible to go around. Those roadblocks sister, often keep us from moving forward, from living in God’s perfect present glory. We get stuck on the big… “what if”
What if I hadn’t made that choice?
What if I had taken that job?
What if they hadn’t died?
What if we hadn’t broken up?
What if I just took the risk?
Have you ever asked that question? What if…. I know I have. I’ve wondered how my life would be different if I had made different choices or lived a different life. This pattern of thinking can lead to a dark and very unhelpful place.
When we live in the past we are neglecting to see the promises God has placed right in front of our eyes. Christ commands us to move from the past and run towards his glorious future. ( Colossians 3:2)
But how? It is much easier said than done isn’t it? I can’t count the number of times that I have tried to move on from the past only to be haunted by a past mistake or situation in my dreams. It’s as if yesterday is inescapable. Have you ever experienced this? It’s the WORST! You are going about life just fine, when out of nowhere you are woken by a dream that seemed so real and so vivid. It was like reliving the event or hurts all over again. I kept wondering why this would happen over and over only to realize it was because I was still holding on. I didn’t want to let go of my past because that would mean I would have to accept it, and move on.
Sister, if you’ve ever had a hard time letting go, or you just didn’t want to, I beg you to keep reading. The past can be a beautiful tapestry full of unique memories and beautiful lessons, but we aren’t meant to stay in yesterday.
Looking forward to what lies ahead
“But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:12b-14
Could it get any clearer sisters? Paul in this passage is clearly writing to tell all the earthly brothers and sisters that in order to gain the heavenly prize, in order to reach the finish line, we only need to do one thing- forget the past and look forward to what lies ahead.
In order for us to truly live we need to lay down the past hurts, heartbreaks, mistakes, failures, and even successes to seize the future heavenly blessings. I don’t know about you but I want the prize. I want to strive towards God!
So where do we start?
Realize you can’t rewrite the past- Nearly everyone has something from their past they wish they could change. Here is the hard truth- you can’t. I spent far too many years wishing and praying that I could go back and make different choices, hoping it would produce a different outcome, but I can’t. No one can erase past wrongs except your Savior. So sister, stop wasting valuable energy trying to rewrite the past, and work on creating a better future.
Stop waiting for “closure”- We all want closure. Ever had a breakup or perhaps a friend ship that ended badly and you are waiting and waiting for this big moment of cinematic closure? You know, where they admit they were wrong and you are the most amazing person to ever live? Well, stop waiting. When we wait for this big movie moment of apology, or amicable ending, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Life is not a romantic comedy screen play. As women we tend to build up in our heads this perfect ending to any relationship and even if we get one, it will never live up to the over the top version in our head. The hard truth is sometimes we won’t get the apology or any answers. And that is OK. We can find healing without them. Stop waiting for another person to give you closure and instead find it in Christ.
Discern what blessings stemmed from the hardships of the past-When you are stuck in the past one of the hardest things to decipher is the blessings God has in store through the pain. Often times God knows that in order for us to become the women we are meant to be, we need to first be refined, shaped, and molded. And sometimes that refining can only happen in the midst of the hottest fire.
“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.” Romans 8:28.
Say it with me. God works ALL THINGS together for good. This one can be a hard pill to swallow. God doesn’t just work the good things, but all things for the good of us who love him. That means sister, that in your darkest hours and deepest past God is working all things for good. I know I have seen how some of my hardest times have turned into some of my greatest blessings. So take a look at what good God has worked through your difficult past. You’d be amazed at his faithfulness.
Stop playing the victim- This one is hard! When we are stuck in the past we often get stuck with a big old dollop of self-pity. We feel hurt, rejected, and as if life is unfair. However, most times the past isn’t one sided. It may be time to take ownership of your role in any past mistakes, failures, or hurts. So top asking “what if?” and start asking, “ what now?”
Stop living in the glory days- We have all heard that saying, “back in the good old days.” I hate that saying! When people are stuck in the past it isn’t always the hurts and failures they cling too- but often the good times. When we are discontented with where our life is presently we resort to thinking of fonder times by romanticizing the past. This can be a dangerous and unnecessary comparison game. Many people get stuck in the pattern of thinking life was better when they were skinnier, younger, single, etc. The list can go on and on. The truth is, there is no such thing as a “glory day” because every day is meant for God’s glory. When we get stuck pining for the past we miss out on the immense and glorious blessings Christ has ahead. Look at the past fondly and sweetly, but never let the past impede what lies ahead.
Release unhealthy attachments– In order to successfully let go of unhealthy pasts you need to also release any unhealthy attachments that still tie you to the past. Perhaps you have mementos, pictures, or items from the past that only give you unnecessary reminders of yesterday. Let them go. Clean ship. Perhaps your attachment is someone you can’t seem to let go of, this can be a hard one to release, but find small ways to appreciate the relationship for what it was, and let go of any unrealistic hopes and expectations. Instead begin to form new healthy attachments with those who support you.
Don’t let your past exhaust your future- Holding onto the past can be accompanied by emotions such as bitterness, resentment, anger, or possibly sadness. Each one of those emotions are going do one thing- DRAIN YOU. Holding on to bitterness will only steal all your energy and leave you feeling empty and alone. Let go of resentment because it gets you nowhere and does precious little to change the past.
Surrender the past and find grace filled healing- Moving on from the past can be hard. You can’t be expected to do it alone. Luckily, you never ever have to. The only way to truly let go of your hurting is to let God help. Surrender the past mistakes, hurts, and pains and find grace instead.
I’ll never forget the moment I decided that I no longer wanted to carry around the baggage of my past. I’d been clinging so tightly to the shadows of the past that I was neglecting my present and future. In all honesty I was afraid that if I let go I would have to face reality. I’d have to accept that there was no changing my mistakes and instead I would need to move forward. I was scared. All I’d know was the familiarity of the hurts.
I prayed adamantly that God would help me let go. I knew only Christ could help, and that he would need to pry my fingers away from the baggage I carried one finger at a time. I surrendered. I fell to my knees and asked him to help me let go.
I wish I could say I instantaneously stood up and felt free like a bird, but instead I just felt loved. I felt as though Jesus was kneeling right beside me, assuring me, that I had far greater love, grace, and mercy ahead of me than behind me.
“Neither the world above nor the world below—there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39
What about you sister? Are you in desperate need of surrendering?
No matter what pain, grief, hurt, or failure that has happened the beauty is it has already happened. It is over. It’s time to let Jesus do what Jesus does best, forgive and erase. Let him blot out every transgression and wipe every tear from your eye.
You past doesn’t write your future.
If you are scared to let go I pray that you would meditate on the words from Philippians over and over, and realize that we need to let go of the past and press on towards our prize. Our prize of unending and purposeful love.
Sister, your future is wide and full of potential. Remember, God works all thing together for good for YOU who loves him.
What past choices do I wish I could change?
If I changed my past how would I be different today? What blessings stemmed from the past?
What is one item you want to surrender to God today?
I pray that you would help me surrender my past pains, hurts, and failures to you. Flood me with the redemptive grace of the cross. Daily remind me of the multitude of blessings you have provided me. Help me press on in this life towards the greatest prize of your unending love.
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