January 2019 went by like a whirlwind; as the new year starts I have had several reminders from the past. Things that I rarely think about, have taken a forefront of my attention. Sarah Jakes Roberts put is best in her book Don’t Settle for Safe, “The gift of growing requires letting go. We have to let go or we will experience discomfort and even pain. Letting go is trusting we can carry the lessons from our past in our hearts without constantly replaying the pain in our heads.” I thought about what I might learn from those reminders of the past:
There are reminders that some things in my past I need to celebrate. I have been so blessed. I don’t mean that as just something to say, but from the depth of my heart how I feel regularly. There is not a thing in my life that has happened, that I can not see God’s hand on looking back. Amazing people poured onto my life. Even if they no longer remain, I gleaned from them what I was supposed to in the moment, even if was just a seed at the time. I can focus on what is gone, or I can celebrate all that I have learned and all that I have in my life currently.
There are reminders from the past of the amazing transformation that God has done in my life. I look back on my life and don’t recognize who I was anymore. It feels like a whole other lifetime ago. When that past stands before me, it can immediately take me back to the moment in time, however the past stands only as a reminder. It is a reminder of “There but the grace of God, go I.” When I see someone or something that triggers my past, I realize how far God has brought me. It is a reminder that people can change. It is a reminder that God never gave up. God has used so much of my past to speak that hope into the lives of others.
There are reminders of the growth that has come in my life. There are things I had to intentionally do to grow. Choices I made, even when the choice was a difficult one to make. There were times where that growth cost me everything familiar. There have been times where I have had people walk and encourage me to grow. And times where everyone walked away (or should have!). Growth has always cost me something, whether it was my comfort, my pride, or a financial cost. I also realize sometimes the best growth occurs in times when it looks like nothing is happening or when I felt like I was being crushed by the weight of what I was carrying.
There are reminders from the past that some things have created who I am today. Every experience in my life has taught me something. The experiences might not have been good, but they have given me a perspective that no book can teach. The way I think, the way I cope with certain things, or process were created from past experiences. Some of those things no longer serve a purpose, but God’s grace will cover me in the process of change. God can reshape the clay of my life into something that has greater purpose than just a collection of experiences.
There are reminders of the past of which I need to just let go. I can stop running from those things because they no longer have the hold on me they once did. I need to stop looking at them as excuses. Stop allowing the enemies reminders of my fears, mistakes and failures to keep me from stepping out where God has called me.
We all have a past, some may be more proud of their past than others, but none of us should live in the past. We need to take our reminders from the past and use them as lessons for our future.