Leaving Our Past Behind

I am always puzzled when someone says that the reason for their behavior and character is that, “they have the past.” They are usually referring to some bad experiences that they were a part of, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

But unless we were all born this morning, everyone has the past that can be used as an excuse for being complacent in their brokenness. Granted that I have never walked in your shoes and don’t know what it is like to be you, but you also have to accept the fact that you did not walk in my shoes, and don’t understand my struggles either.The problem is that we have a tendency to always compare our bad circumstances to other people’s best moments, but this mentality does not help. So we go on making excuses why we can never be the best version of ourselves, blaming situations and people surrounding us for our lack of progress. However, the biographies are not of people who had perfect lives in every way, but rather people who overcame great odds and difficulties. Optimistically, they pushed through their struggles, and something beautiful became of their lives. Historically, we see that some of the most desperate and conflicted men wrote some of the best poetry, and it was some of the most broken-hearted lovers who wrote some of the most heartfelt music. Furthermore, it was some of the most wounded soldiers who laid their lives down for their comrades and friends. There is a beauty that comes out of adversity, and there is hope rising out of the darkest of dungeons. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross says, “ The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

In light of that I want you to remember, that regardless of how you feel the key is not to give up now, you have made it this far. God is working on your masterpiece, trust him to, “…give a crown of beauty for ashes,” Isaiah 61:1-3. Do not allow the enemy to keep you entertained in a pity party. Instead, step out in bold faith and be intentional about your life. If the enemy reminds us of all the things you left in your past, you should remind him of the things waiting for him in his future. After all, you have not swept your sins under some rug, but rather your sins were washed by Jesus’ blood. Knowing that, I hope you make a choice to accept the things you cannot change and change the things that you have the power to change.

So accept, forgive, and let go of the things you cannot change!

If you find yourself constantly wondering if you can go back in time and change things. Well, I got news for you, you can’t. There is no use in beating yourself up over the mistakes you made in the past when you did not know what you know now. That’s why to look back and wonder why you made those mistakes it’s pointless and similar to being mad at yourself for not picking the right numbers the day after the lottery numbers were drawn. You had no way of knowing what will happen, so learn from those mistakes and move on. Focus instead on the things you can change and do your best to make the right decisions going forward.

Furthermore, if what happened to you in your past was not your fault, but rather someone taking advantage of you, and you’ve found yourself on the receiving end of a certain kind of abuse; it is my hope that you will find healing and restoration. However, you will have to be intentional about this. While perhaps you could have never prevented what happened to you, nonetheless, you can choose how you will respond to the abuse you have faced. Because in your pain and sorrow you can either choose to forgive and get better or choose to ignore them and be bitter. Just know that the bitterness you choose to harbor will slowly destroy you because not forgiving is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

So I encourage you to decide to forgive and let go, not because they deserve it but because you were forgiven by God. Knowing that, can we walk up to the foot of the rugged cross and demand our rights? Can we look at the nails piercing Jesus’ hands and feet, while blood is flowing from every wound and excuse our bitterness because it hurts? Can we listen to the jeering and death chants of the mob and still claim that we have been offended? Can we watch Jesus forgive the mob while they are hurling insults, yet ourselves chose not to forgive? You see? All of our hurts pale in comparison to the ultimate sacrifice that the Son of God paid so that our debt of sin might be canceled. Furthermore, some debts can never be repaid, and they just have to be canceled. After all, how does a father who has abandon his kids ever redeem himself? How does someone who took away your innocence ever make it right? So I encourage you to cancel other people’s debts because our debts were canceled at the cross.

Second, change the things you can change!

While God will accept us the way we are, nonetheless, He will not leave us the way we are. One of my favorite verses says that by, “… beholding the glory of the Lord, (we) are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” In other words, God is slowly transforming us into the image of His son. But this will happen only if we behold His glory or look onto Him for everything.

You see, God is the source of all pleasure and the enemy has never produced any form of pleasure. The enemy has taken what God has created and twisted it and in a way that it would appeal to our fallen nature. There is a phrase written by an unknown author that says, “Opportunity may knock only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell.” In other words, temptation is annoying, always persistent and unrelenting, never quitting from tempting you. The temptation is a pull in our fallen nature to worship something else, rather than God. It is one of the greatest weapons the enemy has; to draw and lure us away from who we were intended to be. In James 1:14 it says, “… each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death”.

Hence we have to worship God and make it a practice of killing sin or sin will kill us. But how do we kill sin? Well, it starts with what we allow our mind to ponder upon. The thoughts we choose to dwell on becoming our pattern for thinking, which later becomes our actions, which in turn becomes our character and who we are today. Romans 12:2 says: “… be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” To kill sin is to turnaround from our worship of other “gods” and to begin honoring God in our thoughts and slowly we will be transformed in our actions.

Furthermore, if there is anything that you did against other people, seek restitution by doing anything you can to pay back your debts. If you lied, then tell the truth; if you have stolen, then meet with the person you stole from and paid them back; and if you have gossiped about someone, then you should ask them for forgiveness. This will lead to a restoration of your relationships with other people, and if Jesus paid a debt he did not owe for those of us who could not pay, we should pay the debts we can pay to those whom we do owe.

Finally, remember God’s mercy and grace. 

Every day you wake up there is a measure of mercy and grace that is given to us by God. Whenever we sin, we have a great advocate who is constantly before the throne of God, interceding for us. As the day goes on, there are frustrations and mistakes that you will make but at the end of the day bring them before God, ask for forgiveness, and go to sleep knowing that nothing can ever separate you from the love of God. You can then wake up ready for another day in which you can impact this world with the love of God for eternity.