Moving Past Your Past: How to Heal and Forgive
“Having existed in, or having occurred during a time previous to the present; bygone.”
It haunted me.
Stripped the very core of my being, suffocated my very existence while disintegrating any ounce of hope I had left.
Labeled and reminded me that where I come from, what I've done, and the mistakes I continued to make was "all I would ever be."
When I write the word "past," I am referring to a collection of defining moments and life events that make up one's story. I'm writing to those that feel marked by their past of poor decisions and traumatizing experiences and feel ashamed, constricted, stripped, and labeled by it, I have news for you, my friend: you can move past your past.
Decisions, Experiences, & Self-Worth
Decisions lead you to experiences- both vibrantly memorable and those you would much rather forget. I can thank my bittersweet teenage years for providing both.
Upon entering adulthood, I was ashamed, embarrassed, and straight up disappointed in myself. As for my self-worth, well, that was equal to nothing as I believed the words that were spoken over me. To make matters worse, I hid almost everything from my close friends and family, and especially my church family.
Secrecy became my companion, and shutting people out became a norm.
I was so alone, and the enemy had me right where he wanted me: in the DARK, ashamed, guilty, and very, very alone; I allowed myself to be defined by my past and what had been spoken over me, WORDS that are too vulgar to write on here.
But it wasn't time that took me through the healing process, and as much as my mentors and leaders spoke encouragement into my life, I can't say that they restored my broken heart.
The credit belongs to JESUS: accepting His Grace, along with forgiving, sharing my story, unweaving lies, and owning my freedom that made it possible for me to MOVE past my past and FIND my value in Christ.
What About Forgiveness?
The original Greek translation of forgiveness comes from the root word "aphesis," meaning deliverance or pardon; a sending away, a letting go, a release, complete forgiveness.
We must ask and accept forgiveness from God first, knowing that we are completely forgiven for our mistakes and covered by His boundless grace and mercy. This step is crucial to applying aphesis to your situation.
Next, BE HONEST with yourself. Think of the the people that still leave a bad taste in your mouth, think of those that you can’t stand to face because of how deeply they wronged you.
It may take every fiber in your being to put your pride aside, but it must be done to free yourself from bitterness. You, yes, YOU can CHOOSE to forgive! Make a conscious decision to forgive those that have hurt, offended, wronged, taken advantage of, or accused you. I know, easier said than done!
Let's be real, true forgiveness is a process, one that requires God’s love to replace our bitter, prideful hearts that scream “I am right, and they are undeserving of my grace!”
That is the beauty of who God is though; He is the ultimate example of aphesis. You already know where I’m going with this: Because of Jesus’ death, we were pardoned, and completely released from what should have been the penalty (death) for OUR sins. Because of Him, we have the power to truly forgive others in the same form of dying to ourselves and releasing the “guilty” people that have wronged us.
WARNING: Forgiveness is crucial, BUT so is guarding your heart! So be alert, wise, and protect yourself knowing that it’s okay to love certain people from a distance.
Share Your Story
Along with forgiveness, sharing your story is a vital part of moving past your past and through the healing process.
What if they see me different after this? What if I completely embarrass myself by sharing what happened to me? They're going to judge me and then label me after I tell them about my broken family and the decisions I made as a result.
These very thoughts played repeatedly in my head. I was contemplating whether or not to be so frighteningly open about my past to close friends, family, and even strangers.
I'll let you in on a little secret: most people are just as scared as you are.
However, there’s something so special about vulnerability and feeling empathy for someone. Being able to say, “I understand you.” You’re not the only one that has gone through abuse, negative thoughts, rejection, a broken family, loneliness, self-doubt, etc.
We all bleed the same. Whether I was halfway across the world in Thailand, working with rescued trafficked children or listening to testimonies in my local church, I found people’s stories to be so contrasting yet so emotionally relatable to some degree.
I recommend sharing your story with a trusted source first. A trustworthy leader, mentor, or family member that can counsel and pray with you through the healing process is highly recommended!
Overall, sharing your story strengthens yourself and others. You may not even realize how much healing power lies within your story.
Unweaving The Lies
I wish I could say that all of the negative thoughts and mindsets went away overnight, but It was something I had to fight everyday, and occasionally still do. I'm talking about the lies of the enemy, the lies of being a failure, alone, unloved, unwanted, unworthy, unforgiven, useless, and the list goes on.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” -Romans 12:2
Simply put, renewing the mind everyday is essential if you want to keep your past in the past.
For every lie that tries to infect your mind, so much more TRUTH is available for you to proclaim over yourself.
Run in Freedom
Freedom belongs to you! Own it. You are forgiven through Jesus Christ, therefore, you have the power to forgive.
You’re not alone in this journey.
In other words, don’t let un-forgiveness, guilt, shame, fear of rejection, and lies get the best of your life.
You have a new story to write, and it looks nothing like your past.