Leave the Past in the Past

We all have a past.

It’s good to remember where we’ve come from, where God has brought us from, what He has delivered us from.  I’m all for that.  He reminds me from time to time to remember, don’t forget from where I’ve come.

That’s all well and good.  This is what I take issue with and perhaps you can relate…when you run into someone and all they want to do is rehash specific events from days gone by.  That person who likes to remind you of what a fool you were when you dated so-and-so or how everyone thought you were this or that or what a great time everyone had at some camp, etc.  All the while, you’re thinking to yourself, “That’s not the way I remember things.”  And you walk away feeling all sorts of crappy.

I don’t know about you, but, my junior high years were wrought with anxiety, stomach issues and preteen girl drama.  And my high school years were full of confusion and stress.  The life of stress and isolation I experienced as an adolescent carried into my twenties and it all came crashing down around me in a divorce at 29.

Now I’m not saying that I’ve had a bad life.  Actually, quite the opposite.  I come from a loving and Godly home with great parents and extended family.  I have never lacked anything.  I was a good student. But my personality and the relationship choices I made in my life created a good deal of anxiety in my life.  So, I DO have a list of regrets and “if onlys,” just like most of you.

if-only

The Bible says, “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.”

Seriously.  I’m tired of talking about and rehashing and thinking about the “good ole’ days!”  They weren’t good!  What I have going on in my life NOW is good.  And it’s only going to get better.

The same passage of scripture continues, “Behold, I will do a new thing, NOW it shall spring forth;  shall you not know it?”

Susie’s paraphrase:  Forget about your past, stop dwelling on your regrets, shame, could haves, should haves, would haves…You can’t change the past.  Stop living with regret and shame.  It’s time to move on.  Live in the present and look toward the future with hope and excitement!  God is doing a new thing in you.  If you keep dwelling on the past, you will miss the awesome plan He has for your life NOW.

past

The Bible talks about a race that we’re running.  That’s what life is.  A race.  Do you continually look backwards when you are running a race?  You can try, but you’re probably going to lose your balance or trip over an obstacle in the way and fall flat on your face.  We are to keep our eyes straight ahead, look towards where we are going.

Hebrew 11:12-13 says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our  faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”runtherace

And my favorite verse about this race we’re in…

I Corinthians 1:24 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.”

You can’t drive a car by looking in the rear view mirror all the time without crashing.  There’s a reason why the rear view mirror is so small and the windshield is so large.  Keeping your eyes on the road ahead is vital to the journey you’re on.  You have to glance at the rear view mirror periodically to make sure nothing behind you is going to rear end you, it’s true.  But, the most important view is right in front of you.rearview mirror

Looking in your rear view mirror or dwelling on your past continually will entrap you in depression, shame, regret, insecurity and a host of other emotional “crashes.”  Who wants to live like that?  Not me.

Counseling to overcome past hurts, betrayals, abuse and other circumstances is very important for your emotional and mental health.  I cannot adequately describe what counseling has done for me. It’s good to know where you’ve come from, why you are like you are, and how your past has shaped you into the person you are now.  BUT, once you’ve done that, it’s time to move on.  Don’t dwell on and live in the past.

Look up, look ahead!  God is doing a NEW thing in your life!

hopeful-happy

Forgiving When It’s Hardest

“I can never forgive him.  NEVER!”  Words shouted to God, an oath sworn in the deepest recesses of my heart.  How could I forgive someone who destroyed my dreams, ruined my plans, stole my life, obliterated my self-worth?  How could I forgive someone who chose his addiction over his wife, his babies?  How could I forgive him from walking away from us?

I was repeatedly told, “Forgive.”  I tried. I really, really tried.  I said it to my friends.  I said it to my family.  I forgive him.  I even said it to him.  I forgive you.  Inside though, I was still nursing my wounds, trying to resuscitate my damaged heart.  I couldn’t let go.

If I forgive him, I’ll be letting him off the hook.

If I forgive him, it’s like I’m saying what he did was no big deal.

If I forgive him, I’m condoning his behavior.

I can’t just forgive and forget!

Unforgiveness poisoned my life.  With my new husband, simple disagreements morphed into manic rages.  Confusion engulfed my mind.  Guilt dictated my relationship with my children.  Anxiety and regret ruled supreme in my heart.  More times than not, face-to-face encounters with the ex rivaled episodes of “Jerry Springer.”  So.much.anger.  Somewhere deep in my mind, I foolishly thought that I was making him pay for the years of pain he caused me.  No one else seemed to be holding him responsible, so I would!

My children were hurting and confused.  “Why’s Daddy so mad at you?  Why does Daddy yell at you?  Why are you crying again, Mommy?”  I pacified my sweet babes with vague explanations.  So little, so innocent.  An understanding came to me.  My bitterness was hurting my children.  They needed permission to love their daddy without hurting their mommy.  I decided, I will forgive him and get past these feelings that were controlling me.  For my children and for them alone.

I prayed.  I read the Bible.  I sought wise counsel.  I continually spoke forgiveness aloud.  I forgive him.  I forgive him.  When I felt like screaming, I kept silent.  When I longed to bring up past sins, I held my tongue.  When I felt anxious for the safety of my children, I hid in the arms of my Savior through prayer and meditation on His Word.  I spoke kindness to my children about their father.  I replaced my negative internal dialogue with God’s opinion of me.  Self-pity turned into sympathy.  Self-loathing became self-loving.  Loving myself made me love others.  Seeing myself as God sees me helped me to see others as God sees them…even my ex-husband.

Through this process, I noticed my children were relaxing.  I could almost see the stress and anxiety leave their little bodies.  A load was lifted.  It was working!

But wait!  I began to feel less stressed.  Less anxious.  Less hostile.  The aching in my chest isn’t there anymore. When I think about my failed marriage and the events which caused it, I no longer feel anger. Or bitterness.  Or shame.  Or regret. What happened???   Is this what it feels like to be happy?  To be joyful?  To be at peace with myself?

I FORGIVE HIM!!!  I really, really do!  This victim became a victor!!!

At long last, joy and peace are mine!

Forgiveness is not FOR the person who has wronged you.  Forgiveness is for YOU!  Release them and release yourself.

Forgiveness is not forgetting.  My mind will not allow me to forget.  But now, when I remember, the pain is gone.

Forgiveness is freedom from the chains of anger, hatred and bitterness that steal joy and peace in your life.

Forgiveness does not always happen quickly.  It took me literally YEARS to get to the place I am today.  Be patient and consistent.

Forgive and be free!

And don’t forget what Jesus said Himself, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  Matthew 6:14-15

Before you go, watch this video.  The words to this song were healing balm to my soul.