Ever heard the phrase “The past is in the past?” For many people, this isn’t true. The past is a daily visitor, haunting their thoughts and determining the future. The weight of our past sins and experiences has the power to limit our potential in this world—if we let it.
For some, the past holds the sting of rejection. For others, it’s the pain of abuse. For some, it’s simply the memory of things said and done that fills their heart with regret.
We serve a God who is bigger than any past, but many of us don’t know how to let His greatness and power overcome the burden we carry. We continue to walk through life under the weight of what’s been done, refusing to let go—even though that’s what we need to be free.
If you’re struggling to let go of your past, here are four steps to get you started in this journey.
1. Acknowledge What’s Holding You Back
The first step to overcoming your past is acknowledgment. What is the event, relationship or belief that is currently limiting you? Where is it rooted? What are you afraid would happen if you let this go?
This should be a prayerful conversation. As you pray through these thoughts, God will bring to mind the core issues you can then surrender into His hands. This may be difficult, since you’re releasing control to God. Even though we long to be free, we often maintain control over our past because it feels safer to hold onto the burden than to release it. Trust God. Trust His love, wisdom and patience with you. He already knows your story.
2. Find a Counselor
Counseling is not just for people “with problems.” Counseling is a biblical concept, and in my opinion, it should be sought no matter what your stage of life! A good counselor will help get to the root of why you’re struggling to release certain parts of your past. This is especially important for abuse victims, who need someone to walk with them through the trauma of their past.
It’s very important that the person who is counseling you possess a biblical worldview. They are giving you advice on major life decisions and thought patterns—areas that desperately need God’s influence in order for you to continue into freedom. Seek counseling through your church or another church locally, or look up Christian counseling agencies in your area. If you can’t afford counseling, find someone you trust who is spiritually mature and able to act as a mentor figure.
3. Become Mindful of Your Thought Patterns
Satan does most of his work in our minds. He can’t read our thoughts, but he can lob ideas out there for us to meditate on. When we meditate on the sins and burdens of the past—ours or others’—we’re giving him exactly what he wants. The enemy wants your mind more focused on the past than on Christ. If he can keep your thoughts centered on pain, he can keep you distracted from victory!
When thoughts come into your mind, be mindful of them. Consciously ask yourself: Does this thought reflect the love and truth of God, or is it a lie from my past? Commit that thought to the Lord as soon as it comes. This is how you fight spiritually and mentally against the enemy!
4. Don’t Set a Time Frame
As with sexual sin, setting a time frame on healing and freedom will only cause frustration. Don’t say, “In three months I want to be in this place” spiritually or emotionally. Let God work! Healing is a process, and surrender is not a one-time decision.
Letting go of the past is not easy. But when you begin this journey and continue in faith, the freedom you’ll find is like nothing you’ve known before. This is what God wants for you! Follow Him into His freedom. He’s waiting to help you.