Have you ever felt really stuck? I don’t mean you’re simply at a loss for words when writing a business proposal or a school assignment. I mean something big has its claws in your brain and you feel like you just can’t move. No matter how hard you try you can’t get rid of the baggage that is weighing you down and holding you back.

That “something big” could be any number of things. It might be:

  • a troubled or abusive childhood
  • domestic violence
  • a history of mental illness
  • an addiction to alcohol, drugs, pornography, or gambling
  • a series of failed relationships
  • sexual indiscretions
  • a divorce
  • a business failure
  • an abortion
  • the death of a loved one

As Patrick Dempsey says to Reece Witherspoon in the movie Sweet Home Alabama, “So you have a past. Who doesn’t?”

We all come with a past. Some of our baggage is stuff others have done to us – family, teachers, partners, or just “them” out there. Some of our baggage is stuff we have done to ourselves, usually in response to things that have happened to us.

The important thing is getting past your past, getting rid of the baggage, and moving forward. Hebrews says we are to “lay aside every weight.” But how do you do that? How do you get those claws out of your brain and move on?

Here’s how:

  1. Realize that you have a choice. No, you cannot undo yesterday. You are who you are, including the lumps, bumps, and bruises. But you CAN choose what you do about it. You get to decide whether the abuse, addiction, or failure will define your tomorrow. You get to say who you will be in the future.
  2. Learn how to forgive. That may be a difficult lesson. And sometimes the most difficult of all is learning to forgive yourself. I don’t believe you can do that without God’s help, but I can assure you it’s possible.
  3. Commit to the journey. Getting past your past doesn’t happen in a day. Quitting smoking, learning to communicate with your spouse, or taking responsibility for your own thoughts may take a lot of practice.
  4. Accept God’s new beginning. If there’s one primary message of the gospel, it’s that God is a God of second chances. And third chances. And more. He offers you a fresh start, and He will walk with you into every tomorrow.

To paraphrase the movie again, God wants to know if there is a place for Him in your future.

Some of the Scriptures and resources about getting past your past:

  • Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
  • Philippians 3:13,14 “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
  • Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
  • Celebrate Recovery – a biblical and balanced program that helps us overcome our hurts, hang-ups, and habits.
  • Dr Carol’s post How To Find the Freedom of Forgiveness.

Your turn: What do you need to get past in your own past? What would you tell someone struggling to get over a painful past? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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