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Today’s Truth

…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.

Let’s Pray
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.

12 Responses to “Letting Go of the Past”

  1. Emily Wenzel says:

    Love your daily message and jam packed positive approach to life through the Word of God. I wonder, though, how it is we find scripture that matches the issue at our hand? Often read where people pick up the Bible and find comfort in the scripture easing pain and answers dilemmas. But, how does a reader find the scripture that “fits”?
    Maybe I’m asking for too much! Appreciate any offered advice….. thank you again! Emily

    • Barb Roose says:

      Emily, you’re asking a GREAT question! One of the simplest solutions is to either look in the back of your Bible in the concordance or topical section. You can look up whatever you’re dealing with an there will be verses indexed according to topic OR if you can Google “Bible verses to help with anxiety” or “Bible verses for hope”. I hope that helps!

  2. carol says:

    Thank you, for your writing this am!
    I’m going to use your 3 step tool of the “annual funeral”, when the internal enemy tries to steal my spiritual joy!
    Bless you Barb,keep your posts for “spiritual coaching” coming, as we GIG’s run our races in life!

    • Barb Roose says:

      Hi Carol, thanks for joining us at Girlfriends in God today! I’m glad that you enjoyed today’s devotional and I pray that God uses the “funeral” tool to free you from the past and fill you with God’s hope for the future. Happy New Year!

  3. Pam says:

    Barb, I’ve never seen the author of the devotional respond to comments. I read Girlfriends in God each morning. I’m loving seeing your response! Thank you for this “funeral” concept. I work in long term care. Our facility lost 19 residents to Covid-19. Our facility was on the news and they painted us in a horrible light. I am administrative management yet I was in my PPE simply trying to get dying dehydrated individuals to drink water. We knew and loved these residents. We know and love their families and see their piercing loss. The grief has been huge and lingering. To be bashed for our efforts was brutal on top of already deep wounds. I desperately need to bury this pain. Thank you for offering a means to do that.

    • Barb Roose says:

      Hi Pam, thank you for sharing your post. My heart is beyond broken for the loss and pain that you and your care facility have experienced during the pandemic. There aren’t enough words to say thank you for your sacrifice and your willingness to serve others in a way that truly honored Christ. I’m so sorry for the hurtful words of others and I pray that you have time and space to be real, write down and release what’s in your heart to God.

  4. Beth says:

    I like this idea! Thanks so much for this insight.

  5. Kathy says:

    Thank you for this. I have had much reflection and study time the last several months and have had my eyes opened to how much ugly STUFF I am holding onto from the past. I am so very thankful that He sees it too and reminds me to walk in the freedom He purchased for me!
    Pam- I am so sorry that you have gone through this on the front lines. I am praying for you right now Sister!

    • Barb Roose says:

      Hi Kathy, thank you for joining us at GiG. I’m so glad that you’ve put the time and prayer in allowing God to show you were He longs to bring you into freedom from the past. Thanks for sharing your courageous faith with us!

  6. Jessica says:

    Praying for you too Pam. It’s amazing the work you did to care for others and how God had kept you ❤️

    Anyone have any recommendations for a good place to do this exercise?

    • Barb Roose says:

      Hi Jessica, great question! For a decade, I did the funeral exercise in the Spring and Fall – I had a lot that I had to release and re-release! I would drive to a local park during the day when there weren’t many people. I’d set my blanket down by the edge of the water. For me, sitting outdoors helped me to feel surrounded by God. You can do this exercise anywhere that you have a measure of privacy and where you feel safe to let your words and tears fall. I hope that helps!

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8