The past can be a pesky business. Thinking about it can lead to 2 trains of thought. One path revisits the train wrecks we’ve made of certain situations. The other track leads to a sort of longing…a wishing we could go back to how things were when life was ‘good’. Both past-trains can render us stuck and unable to move forward in life.
Getting held up because of a Train Wreck in our past can immobilize us due to frequent stops at negative stations like guilt, shame or unforgiveness. We severely limit ourselves from the fullness of our potential when we allow past mistakes to define us. Forgiveness for self and forgiveness for others is a journey. However, we need to be aware that there are ways we can bring it to a grinding halt. If we don’t consistently choose forgiveness for ourselves and for others, the stench of the past robs our ability to breathe the air of today.
The motivation to forgive is grounded in this teaching from Christ: For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:14-15). I take that to cover not only forgiving others, but also forgiving ourselves. If the God of the Universe forgives us (and He does when we come clean with Him), then who are we to not forgive ourselves?
It’s almost as though we want God to say over and over that He forgives us…to speak into our insecurity. But God says in Psalm 103:12 that as soon as we have dealt with the issue, He forgives and sees us as clean. When He forgives us, it’s not partial. No matter how many times we beat ourselves up, God gave all forgiveness in the first conversation. It may feel too good to be true; that is the amazing grace of God. Accepting it is the way forward from a train wreck of a situation.
Good Times Train
The hard times in our past are not the only things that can derail us. Nostalgia can become a sub-conscience trap. We remember how happy we felt once upon a time and wish we could ‘get back’ to how things were. God, however, never calls us backward. He leads us to grow and move forward on our journey. I think of Lot’s wife (Genesis 19:12-26). The path ahead of her seemed uncomfortable and scary, so she wasted herself—literally—on looking back and longing for what was.
It’s not that our good times weren’t great; it’s that they belong to the past.
We can even do this in our relationship with God. We may:
- remember times when we were ‘on fire’ for God, but now feel flat
- recall seasons when we couldn’t get enough of studying the Bible, but now feel like it’s something we should do
- reflect to periods when all we wanted was to do things God’s way, but now it’s a struggle to keep on track
…and we wish we could recapture those days. But God doesn’t. Every season of our life is in place so we will experience God in a new way—not just the ways we’ve already enjoyed with Him.
The NOW Train
To move forward, it’s time to hop on the NOW Train. It’s a bit of an aggressive ride, but it goes to refreshing places. Here’s your ticket to NOW:
- Na na na na…hey hey hey…goodbye.
Will you let the past be in the past? The space that’s been occupied with ‘what was’ now becomes available for ‘what’s next’.
- Oh for the love of all that is holy — ease up on yourself.
So you messed up. Ok. Welcome to being human. Even if others want to rub your nose in it, God doesn’t.
- What can you do to experience God in a new way?
I asked someone the other day, “What’s your favorite color?” When she said it was red, I said, “Every time you see something red, let that trigger you to talk to God, think about Him, praise Him…” It’s not always about ‘doing’ more; it’s about soaking in His presence.
A Train Blessing
As you pull away—full steam ahead–from the station of the past, here’s my prayer for you:
May you recall train wreck times as powerful moments of learning and redirection.
May the good times be precious memories allowed to remain in their time and space.
May NOW be your moment to embrace the present and His presence.