Letting Go of the Past

By Janelle Pollard

My husband, Dale, and I went on a spontaneous hiking trip this weekend a few miles from our home. On the way back to our car, I started to notice what looked like tiny daisies all around us. As this wasn’t someone’s manicured flower garden, I could only assume that these pretty little “flowers” must actually be weeds. Despite this, I began picking as many as I could in order to make a little bouquet for our kitchen. When we got home, I put them in a small glass jar, added water, and couldn’t have been more pleased with this free “floral” bunch. Who would have thought that a bunch of weeds could bring so much delight?

As I pondered how such an unwanted pest as a bunch of weeds could so easily make my day, I couldn’t help but think about how God sees us as lovely flowers instead of pesky, unwanted weeds. He is able to use us despite our broken past. Mistakes, scars, and all. I couldn’t even count how many young girls and women I’ve heard say at one time or another that they don’t feel worthy. Or that they must be too broken to make a difference. Or that they feel defined by their mistakes, unable to see their worth, unable to forgive themselves and let go of the past. The truth is, we are all weeds. As humans, we have all messed up, all made mistakes we wish could be taken back and erased. As much as I wish I could say I had never sinned, never done things before that I wasn’t proud of, I just can’t. God knows this about us all. In Romans 3:23, Paul tells us that all have sinned: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Does that verse say, “some” or “very few” have fallen short? Nope. It says “all.”

Now if God knew that we would ALL sin, would he expect that to be the end of the story? Would that be the end of our hope for redemption? No way. God is loving, forgiving, graceful, merciful, patient, and kind. Because of who He is, and Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, we don’t have to be defined by our mistakes. And how thankful we are for that truth! What God wants us as Christians to know is that we don’t have to be guilty. We don’t have to dwell on our past. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we should go on continuing to make those mistakes. (Paul speaks on this in Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”) But if we have repented of our sins (not just being sorry or sad about the sin, but a complete 180, leaving it in the past, turning towards God and away from the sin), we can be guilt-free and serve a much greater purpose! If God couldn’t use people who have made mistakes, imagine how different the Bible would look. And if God couldn’t use us after we sinned, then why did Jesus die on the cross?

If you struggle with guilt, despite repenting, spend a good amount of time in 1 John. And after that, spend more and more time in the Word and in prayer. Ask God to help you let go of the past and to see yourself how He would have you. Read the story of King David and Bathsheba and learn how that wasn’t the end of his story. Read about Peter denying Jesus not once, but three times. Was that where it ended for Peter? If you truly seek God, you will learn and grow in knowledge about Him and learn to let go because you’ll see that He already has! It’s my hope and prayer that no longer will you see yourself as useless or guilt-ridden, but as you truly are: lovely, redeemed, and still full of purpose for Him!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.

The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Cor. 5:17

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