This past Sunday, I was flipping through TV channels when I spotted a show that caught my interest. The show was about checking in with people who had gained notoriety for one reason or another in the past and seeing what they were up to now.
Some of the people showcased were Hollywood celebrities, but I was captivated by the ordinary individuals who had overcome heartbreaking challenges. One of those persons was a young woman who had been molested for years by a close family member. The experience turned her into an angry, self-destructive person.
The young lady said that the day came when she made the decision not to be a victim any longer. She demanded and got an apology from her molester, used her experience to help other children who had similar experiences and she got a law passed in her state that requires schools to teach children about good and bad touches and not to be scared to tell someone about it.
Her story reminded me that even with difficult circumstances, you have a choice as to how those circumstances will affect your future. She made the decision not to allow her past to hold her future hostage.
Here’s what else I learned from her story:
Forgiveness is Key to Putting Your Past Behind You – It’s almost impossible to forget the things that happen in your past. But, as difficult as it may be, you can forgive. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re letting someone off the hook for their past offense; it does mean that you no longer hold it against them.
And, the word of God is clear: If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15) Forgiving the offender is a process, and it is also a mandate by God.
Sometimes, the person you have to forgive is yourself. If you’ve asked God for forgiveness, you are forgiven. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” And, if Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, can forgive you, then who are you not to forgive yourself?
Regret will Keep You in Your Past – There’s nothing wrong with having regret about the things that have happened to you; I know I have some. Things I wish didn’t happen and things I wish I hadn’t allowed to happen. I’m okay with that. But, I also know that I can’t allow regret to keep me from living the joy-filled abundant life God has for me now and in the future.
When the tape starts playing in your head and you can see the images and hear all the words that remind you of that thing you regret – turn it off! Make Isaiah 43:18-19 your life verses: “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?”
No matter what’s happened in the past, live your life for what tomorrow has to offer, not for what yesterday may have taken away.