…but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.
(Philippians 3:13, NLT)
Friend to Friend
My dog, Quimby, is the best forgetter ever. Even though she was abused before she came to live with us, Quimby wakes up each day happily wagging her tail and licking our faces. She never remembers when we yelled at her the day before. For Quimby, each day is a clean slate. I wish I could be a lot more like my dog.
As humans, it’s not easy to forget the past. We’re prone to negative bias, and it’s much easier to remember the bad instead of the good. We drag around mental and emotional suitcases filled with our disappointments, pain, rejection and failure. Then, we lug that hidden baggage into and out of our jobs, relationships, and dreams without realizing that what we’re holding onto is hurting us and others.
Unfortunately, you can only carry your past around for so long before it begins to cost you. The more past-packed suitcases you own, the more that baggage slows you down, messes you up, and keeps you stuck in fear and pain.
Often, we don’t let go of our past because we don’t know how. Others hold onto the past because they believe that they deserve the pain or misery. If that’s how you feel, then I’m so glad that you are here. Regardless of your past, God has a hope and future for you (Jeremiah 29:11). In Christ, you are a new creation and no longer defined by your past (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Long ago, a man named Paul traveled around torturing and killing Christians. One day, he was radically saved. Imagine how Paul might have felt about his old life. Yet, he let go of his past and teaches us how to do it, too.
…but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13, NLT).
Paul realized that the way to break the power of his past was focusing on God’s promises for his future. Because of Christ, Paul realized that he wasn’t just freed from the sin; he also experienced the fullness of God’s peace, hope, joy and purpose in his life, in spite of his past.
How do you ask God to disconnect your past from influencing your life now? I use a tool I call my “annual funeral.” This practical exercise helps me to stop spinning on painful memories and focus on God’s promises. First, I grab my Bible and journal and go to a quiet place where I can think, cry, and pray. Now, here are the steps to the “funeral”:
Step One: Be Real with God
Talk to God also about all of your painful memories, unmet expectations, resentments, and disappointments in your life. He can handle your tears and anger!
Step Two: Write Them Down
Writing down everything you’re pouring out to God makes your feelings, emotions, and perspective real. Writing acknowledges that you’ve been holding it in and now it’s a powerful, symbolic action of letting it out.
Step Three: Release & Remember God’s Promises
This final step is a surrender prayer in which you acknowledge everything from your past that hurt you. For every past memory that you write down, tell God about the hurt and then read verses about God’s promises that reminds you of God’s hope for you. Then, tell God that you are letting go so that He can heal you.
Is there something or someone from your past that you need to let go of? Consider doing a “funeral” and what see happens next. Give God space to work and He will lead you away from the toxic baggage of your past and toward His best for your life.
Dear God, would You free me from the weight of _______________ from my past? I’ve tried to fix and forget what’s happened, but I can’t do it on my own. I’m praying for Your mighty power to release me from what I’ve been dragging all this time. It’s hurting me. I know Your power can deliver me and bring me to the promised place of Your perfect peace and blessing.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Imagine what life might be like if you let go of a past bad memory or hurt.
How would your life or relationships be different?
Which step(s) of my “annual funeral” might be helpful in your situation?
More from the Girlfriends
Today’s content is from Barb’s new devotional book, Surrendered: 40 Days to Help You Let Go and Live Like Jesus. This 40-day devotional invites you to let go of trying to control others or outcomes and learn how to live like Jesus. Learn how to trust God’s power, presence, promises and provision for your life so that you experience God’s peace no matter what’s happening in your life.
© 2021 Barb Roose. All rights reserved.