The past can have such a hold on us, can't it? I tend to live in the past. Maybe you do as well. The past is comfortable to me . . . even the painful parts are comfortable. Have you ever wondered why that is?
THE COMFORT OF THE PAST
The past is so comfortable because we know what to expect. We know the good times. We've celebrated them, and we can recount every beautiful memory by heart. We often wish for those good times again so that we can feel the joy, warmth, and peace they brought to us.
The painful times are oddly comfortable as well. We know what to expect from those painful times. We know how they make us feel. We know how we react to them. We know the emotions the past brings up so we relive them over and over and over again.
The painful times of the past are so comfortable in fact, they inhibit us from trusting God with our future.
My friends, it is HARD . . . Let me repeat that . . .HARD to trust God with our future. If you are anything like me, you've got to be in control. (I'm working on it 😊) But to let go, and give an unknown future to God is very difficult to do. It is like walking out onto a ledge wondering if there is a safety net below.
And while we are comfortable in the past, there is no life there.
I AM DOING A NEW THING
Isaiah 43:18-19 says “Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth . . . ".
The Bible tells us to not even remember the things of the past, never mind find comfort in them. God tells us to not even consider the things of old. Don't remember it. He is doing a NEW THING.
My dad always tells me, "Erika, stop looking in the rear-view mirror of life. If you keep looking through the rear-view mirror, you will crash your car. You must look out ahead of you to see where you are going, and the new roads God is leading you to."
That's wisdom right there, Friends. Let's stop looking in life's rear-view mirror, and let's begin to look ahead to the NEW THING. God is doing.
EASIER SAID THAN DONE.
I heard you! 😁 I get that. I really do. I can eloquently write all the words that just sound so good to the ear, but if they never penetrate the heart the words are empty. I can quote Scripture up and down, but if those Scriptures don't get out of the head and into the heart, nothing will stick, and the past will comfort us like a warm blanket.
Take a minute and think of Sarai in Genesis. She was a trip! She was a control-freak. I can relate to Sarai! I think we'd be friends. She couldn't have kids so she gave her servant Hagar to her husband (WHAT?!?!?!?!) and tried to deliver God's promise of a child through her own means.
In the words of my seven-year-old . . . EPIC FAIL. Sarai tried to control her "new beginnings" and ended up in quite the mess.
So then, in Genesis 17, God changes her name from Sarai to Sarah. Right then and there she should have known something great was coming. When God changes a name, that often comes with a change of vision, a change of season . . . A NEW THING. Sarah didn't see that.
In Genesis 18:11-14. The three angels came to Abraham and told him of the promise of Isaac.
"Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself [after overhearing the angels tell Abraham she was to have a child], saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD?"
Sarah laughed at God when He revealed His new season to her. She laughed. Oh God, that we wouldn't laugh or scoff at you when you reveal your "NEW THING" to us no matter how unbelievable it is.
It was easier for Sarah to laugh at the promise of God - the NEW THING. It was a lot easier for her to dwell in the comfort of her past - to dwell with Ishmael. When all along God was waiting to give her an Isaac.
PRACTICAL WAYS TO LET GO AND MOVE FORWARD.
I hope that as we embrace New Seasons in our life, we aren't like Sarah. Let's willingly accept the NEW THING God is trying to do, and once and for all GET RID OF THE PAST!
Here are some practical ways you can LET GO to move FORWARD.
1. Pray. I know this seems redundant, but prayer to your Heavenly Father is THE WAY. If you don't know what to pray try something like this . . .
"Heavenly Father, I give you my past. I pray that you teach me what I need to know from those lessons, and then you give me the strength to move on. Let the lessons stay with me always, but let me not find comfort there any longer. Show me how to trust in You. Lord, I give you my past, present, and my future. Have your way. Lord, I know you are doing a NEW THING, and now I embrace it . . . Although I may not see it . . . I know you will always guide me with goodness and mercy. In Jesus' name, Amen."
2. Journal. I am a big journal-er folks. I find it a very cathartic practice. There are two practical ways to let go through journaling.
A. Write down everything from your past that you no longer want to find comfort in. Write it all out. Every detail - painful or not. Read it out loud. Once you are done, tear it up and get it out of your house, and literally throw it away. If your past is holding you down, get it out of your life, and symbolically throw it away. Now . . . Don't go back out to the trash heap to pick it up. Leave it out of your life where it belongs, and embrace a NEW DAY.
B. Write down your hopes and dreams for the future. Journal what you want your next month, year, five years, ten years to look like. Write out what you want life to look like at 80. Write down the miracles you want to see God do, and the places you desire Him to take you. Then pray over that list. Print it out. Keep it visible so you can look at it each day as a representation of what is ahead of you.
3. PIN IT. Yes, Pinterest! 2016 was the worst year of my life, friends. My whole world fell apart. My sister's as well. So one night when we were both up late crying in our bedrooms, feeling hopeless, helpless, and dwelling too much on the past. We created a secret board on Pinterest called "FUTURE US". For the last year, we have pinned our future weddings, children, homes, wardrobe, jewelry, Scriptures . . . Whatever gave us hope to keep looking forward. So start a Pinterest Board. Call it NEW THINGS and keep hope alive!
4. LIMIT YOUR TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Guys, I got rid of my personal Facebook page in November and it has changed my life. I am free! Free indeed! I use Facebook only for The Felicity Bee and the groups I am a part of. I have no "friends", no "drama", no reminders of the past.
Now, if you aren't ready to get rid of social media, that is totally fine. But by all means limit your time on it. Stop stalking your ex. Stop stalking your "friend" who left your life just like that. Just stop. My friends, I am telling you, your life will change.
5. Forgive Yourself. My friend, if you feel guilt or shame of your past, forgive yourself. Jesus has already forgiven you, why don't you forgive YOU and let it go? We all make mistakes. We all fail. We all mess up. But Christ took all that on Calvary's cross and died for us so we wouldn't have to live in the death of our past. The Bible says to do the things we see God doing. Jeremiah 31:34b says, "For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
So my friend, if we are to do what Jesus has done . . . Then we must forgive ourselves and remember our sin no more. Forgive yourself and move forward into a NEW THING.
6. Open the Word. When I was in my darkest fear-filled days of living in the past, I opened the Word and did a Scripture search on every word that had to do with fear. I searched the Scriptures for what God had to say, and He healed me of the fear and pain of the past. I wrote a Scripture Journal and A Devotional out of those days in The Word. So open up your Bible and read what God has to say to you. Your spirit will be lightened as you let it all go.
I hope these practical tips will help you in letting go of the past and moving forward into the NEW THING Christ has for you. If you have any other tips or encouragements, please leave them in the comments below so others can read.