A Cherokee proverb – Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.
Paul: Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14
One thing I’ve learned from counseling, too many Christians are bound up in their past – as a result, they cannot fully live in their present. All of us to some degree or another have issues from our past that have to be properly dealt with before we can really proceed to walk into the perfect plan of God for our lives. Some Christians are so bound up with some of the things that has happened to them in their past – that they literally cannot get off the couch to start living again, much less ever fully walk into their real calls for the Lord.
What is letting go of your past?
Letting go of your past means accepting that there’s nothing you can do to change the past. What’s done is done. It is what it is. Learning the short version of the serenity prayer helps with this. It’s knowing that, even if you had a “do over,” you would still be the person you were with the knowledge you had and would have still done the same things.
Letting go of your past means forgiving yourself for your mistakes. Ruminating on what you could’ve or should’ve done is ineffective and unhealthy. If you’re dealing with your mistakes or facing your failures, try to forgive yourself. If God can forgive you, who are you to hold a grudge?
Letting go of your past means being aware of your thoughts. When you find yourself dwelling or obsessing over the past, gently draw your thoughts back to the present. “Whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Phil 4:8
Letting go of your past means trusting the nature of time. You will heal and move on. Your wound will slowly close up and soon only a faint scar will remain – if you let go of your past.
Letting go of your past means seeking balance in your conversations. It’s important to vent and share your pain and sadness, and it’s equally important to show your interest in other people’s lives. Letting go of your past means letting go of yourself.
Paul really puts this principle in proper perspective in relation to the big picture with what we are all involved in with the Lord:
“ Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. .” (Philippians 3:12-14)
Notice Paul starts out the second part of this verse with the words “but one thing I do.” And from there he goes into the principle of not looking at what is behind him – but looking and reaching forward for those things which now lie ahead of him. The words “but one thing I do” is being put in the context of something that he is really making sure that he does on a regular and consistent basis.
This particular mental quality is one that you will have to stay on top of and not let get away from you. It’s very easy to start falling back on all of the bad things that may have occurred in your past, and then use that as an excuse to start feeling sorry for yourself or to justify some of the irrational things you may be doing or thinking about doing.
Then notice Paul ends this verse really putting everything in proper perspective when he says that what he is wanting to press forward on is the “upward call of God.” God the Father has a specific plan and call for each person who will come to Him and fully surrender their entire lives into His hands. But you will never be able to press forward and walk into this upward and high calling unless you can first learn to let your past fully go.
Remember that letting go of your past is a process and will take time. But keep your eyes on the goal and hang in there. Learn to enjoy life. Learn to make each moment count. Don’t just exist. Learn to really live.