Letting Go of the Past

Letting Go of the Past

Perhaps one of the most difficult tasks we face is letting go of the past, particularly if we have been hurt, or if wonderful people, relationships, circumstances, or events from the past are no longer part of our present lives.

As I mentioned in my opening post and on my “About” page,  this is an area I have struggled with over the past several years since losing my Dad. Around that same time, my marriage also fell apart with my children’s father, so it was stressful and emotional in many ways.

It’s so easy to blame God, blame others, and beat up ourselves over real or imagined failures. But what does that accomplish?  It certainly doesn’t produce peace or confidence in who we are today, nor does it help us move forward. Instead, we remain mired in the past, drained of strength or desire to face our daily lives and responsibilities.

My parents used to read a wonderful devotional book together (Mom still does), and since Dad died, Mom gave my new husband and me a copy of that book. It’s called “31 Days of Praise,” written by  Ruth Myers. Among the numerous thought-provoking daily devotions is one I have highlighted, underlined, and circled – and tried to implement in my life.

The general theme (Day 14 for anyone who has, or plans to purchase, the book) is renewing the mind and walking in newness of life, allowing God to develop the gifts He has placed in each one of us. This is the line that is particularly meaningful to me: “...I need not be forever shackled by my past” but instead, by God’s grace, “…with confidence and joy I can look forward to actually becoming all that [He has planned] for me to be.”

This necessitates taking an honest look at what’s holding you back – what is shackling you – and then dealing with it. I have been endeavoring to do that in this year of 2011 so far… facing some painful truths, setting things straight, forgiving and asking forgiveness, and taking some baby steps forward. I have further to go – but it’s a good start – and on those days I struggle, I repeat to myself, “I need not be forever shackled by my past…

How about you? What’s holding you back and not allowing you to let go of the past?

Remember – YOU need not be forever shackled by YOUR past!

Straight shackles
Image via Wikipedia

The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.  ~Mahatma Gandi

I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive.  Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note – torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one. ~Henry Ward Beecher

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future. ~Paul Boese

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. ~Lewis B. Smedes, “Forgiveness – The Power to Change the Past,” Christianity Today, 7 January 1983

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8 thoughts on “Letting Go of the Past

  1. I can’t remember the exact expression, but the sentiments have never left me. Refusing to forgive is like taking posion and waiting for the other person to die. As we hang on to our anger and resentment the other person rarely suffers the pain we feel. We posion ourselves and wonder why nothing happens to create the justice we expect.

    Forgiveness frees us from our past. It does not excuse what happened it helps us move forward from it in peace. By letting go we get the freedom to move forward instead of being trapped and punished by what was done to us.

  2. What folks fail to realize is that being shackled to the past, they are bound and determined to keep repeating it. If one did not enjoy it the first time, why the desire for repetition?

    Thanks for sharing. Unburdening is exhilerating!

  3. This is an art I have to practice daily. You see, my father abused me the first 12 years of my life. Later in life I found out he was not my biological father. My anger then went towards my mother for lying to me my whole life. She was supposed to take care of me. I found my real father, only 6 months later for him to tell me he was not man enough to tell his family of his illegitimate daughter. My anger built up so much it landed me in a shrinks office and medicated. My past haunts me even no. Even though I have to deal with the trauma of my past, I had to let go of the anger and find forgiveness within me or I was never going to be free of my past. It is hard, but if I can do it, anyone can.

  4. The Christians and the Buddhists have found the secret key for forgiving and unshackling our past! It is through “letting go” and the “transforming of our minds” daily that we can achieve it. That’s the secret which I would like to share with all the others who face similar problems. It is easier said than done. But take heed. If I can do it, YOU CAN TOO!

  5. Very heart wrenching lesson- forgiving and moving on. My brother is struggling with this right now. Let’s just say he thinks his life right now is messed up because of the way our grandfather treated our Dad, which made our Dad treat us the same. He cannot get past that. He wants Dad to got to a therapist with him, but my Dad won’t go. My sisters and I have learned to put the past behind us, move on and let God do the rest.
    Keep your chin up. God is on your side!

  6. Hey, was just browsing through the web looking for some info and came across your blog. I am impressed by the knowledge that you have on this blogsite. It shows how well you understand this subject. Bookmarked this page, will come back for more.

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