Letting Go of the Past
Our conversation was going well. We talked about our children, the weather and other trivial topics. I had learned to keep our conversations quite superficial. But unfortunately, we had enough time in our hands for the inevitable. The past was knocking at the door and my friend just had to let it in.
Have you ever been around someone who just cannot let go of the past? Has it ever been you?
These types of personalities can be met everywhere and each family has at least one. They drag their shackles around everywhere they go. They are slaves and do not know it. They are unhappy and invariably become bitter, resentful and lonely. So very lonely.
They are doctors and housewives, wealthy and poor. Many of them sit on the pew right beside us. They know God and his word. And yet, for different reasons, they choose to remain chained to the misery of their past, even though they know that God longs to set them free.
My heart aches for them. But truthfully, many of us have been there. I know I have.
For years I looked back to find justification for my bad attitude and shallow faith. I would blame my insecurities on my parent’s broken marriage and my poor self-image on things that I heard growing up. I blamed my jealousy on that boyfriend who was unfaithful and my reluctance in giving up bad habits on the fact that I was raised in a more liberal culture.
Blame, blame, blame.
Attached to the chains that keep us bound to our past is the Blame Monster. And we feed it every time we drag the past around, allowing it to rob us of an abundant, successful present and future.
Honestly, it’s not easy to release the past. And I cannot in all fairness compare my own, however painful, experiences with some terrible stories which I’ve heard. But regardless of the measure of our pain, we, people of faith, eventually must be confronted with two simple questions: “Am I willing to let go?” and “Is God able to rewrite my story?”
Sometimes it is easier to bring the past along with us, because in order to confront it, we must realize our share of responsibility over our destiny. Of course, there are things that happen that are absolutely outside of our control: no one does anything to justify abuse, nor the onset of severe illness. Neither is it one’s fault that a parent dies nor leaves home, abandoning his or her family. These are truly traumatic experiences, brought on people by decisions of which they had no control.
However, there are hurts of the past that have a measure of self-infliction which is hard to confront. It’s easier to continue blaming mom and dad, or the ex-husband or ex-wife, than looking within ourselves, asking God to help us forgive and allowing Him to show us how to move forward and take ownership of our destiny.
There is also the fact that we become accustomed to living in bondage. We may have blamed the circumstances in our past for so long, that we do not know how to survive without the dysfunction!
There is no future for those trapped in the shackles of their past. And although many of us have, humanly speaking, perfectly good reasons to hold a grudge against a certain person, we must realize that setting them free is not only God’s will for us, it is ultimately the destination for all of those who have real peace and victory.
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