Holding on to our past is one of the easiest, yet ‘dangerous’, things to do, because it often keeps us stagnated and bitter. Being able to forget the past will set us free. Jesus came to set us free from bondage, but often we keep ourselves captives to our past. So, how do we forget the past?
Past means gone by in time and no longer existing. If it is gone, why do we keep holding onto the past? The past is no longer existing; it is history. Our past is our past, we can’t change that. Things have happened. No one can deny that.
But holding on to it will not help us at all. It will not change our past because it has already happened. The only thing it can do is impact our present and our future negatively. If we want a positive future, we should release and let go of our past.
Holding on to the negative experiences paralyses us with negativity. God wants us to stop holding onto our past, forget, and let go, and look with eager expectation to our future. The future He has prepared for us. It is therefore vital to look at what the bible says about not thinking about the past.
Does the bible say not to dwell in the past?
Isaiah 43 verse 18 and 19 tells us to forget our past and focus on the future, on the new things God has in store for us. It is the perfect scripture for forgetting those things which are behind.
“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? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
What does the former things mean? It means everything of our past, positive and negative. The meaning of Isaiah 43 verses 18 and 19 is to forget our past completely, and permanently, and then expect new things from God. God wants us to look forward and look upward to Him.
When we gaze backward, we can’t see the future. We should forget ALL the past things, negative or positive. Because the nice, positive things God has done in the past are not the only things He can do for us. No. He has many more gifts waiting for us to embrace.
Why is it important to forget the past?
If we dwell on our past, it affects our physical, mental, and emotional health negatively. We can’t live in the past and expect good things to happen now and in the future. We would keep ourselves in bondage if we didn’t forget the past. Yes, painful things have happened. No one will ever deny that.
Yet God wants us to let go of that, forget our past, and expect Him to do new things in our lives.
If we don’t know how to release ourselves from our past, we may experience several consequences.
Not letting go of the past affects our mental and physical health
Living in the past causes negative thoughts that affect our minds and our health. This can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, obesity, and even anorexia. We may feel tired all the time and we cannot stay productive at work and enjoy all those little joyful things life offers us. That is why it is important to forget the past.
Holding on to our past leads to wallowing in self-pity
Dwelling on our past is sometimes a sign of self-pity. Thinking of experiences and feeling sorry for ourselves can give us a sense of purpose, although the purpose is wrong. In this feeling of self-pity, we even want others to feel pity for us as well. This is attention-seeking behavior, both attention from ourselves and attention from others. It keeps us busy.
Not forgetting our past has consequences for our relationships
If we don’t forget our past, we block our happiness. As a result, we can become toxic persons, causing others to avoid us, propelling us into a life of solitude. No one wants to be around a resentful person. This is another important reason to forget the past, as it can ruin our present and future relationships.
We could end up pushing responsibilities away
Holding onto our past is also a way of avoiding responsibility. It keeps us from dealing with issues or people. It simplifies life (at least, that is what we think). If we present ourselves as victims of pain, we don’t have to be accountable. We avoid personal responsibility, and when we can blame external circumstances for our problems, we can then dump all our resentment and anger on others.
Dwelling in our past prevents us from dealing with issues
Another reason we find it difficult to forget our past is that we confuse feeling with reacting. The challenge is: to heal, we must feel it. Feeling is being, and that can only happen when we choose to be present at the moment. Thus, living in our past prevents us from dealing with the issues causing us not to progress in life. And often it even causes us to make the same mistakes repeatedly.
Why can’t I let go of the past?
Negative occurrences in our past may have triggered the way we feel today. When we hold on to it, it may become our end. It could blind us from the things God has prepared for us. This blindness caused by staring at our past makes it difficult to let go of our past.
The main stumbling block that hinders us from letting go of our past is blaming our past. Once we point to our past, we keep ourselves stuck in it. When we blame past occurrences for our current feelings, we have allowed our past to define our present.
This causes us to think that our past solely formed our current character, behavior, and, with no way out. These thought patterns leave no room for changes and will keep us stuck in a negative spiral. It will keep our minds glued to our past.
The fact that things happened doesn’t mean it has to get a hold on us. We have been hurt, we have made mistakes; we have been victims of unpleasant situations and have the scars of it on our bodies, hearts, and minds. However, we do not have to let it define us. Our past is not our end.
What does the Bible say about our past?
God knows everything that happened in our past, and he cares; more than we can ever imagine.
He also knew us before we were born. He knew us before our past. It is vital to keep this in mind, because we are who God wanted us to be, not how our experiences have made us.
Our past influences us, truly, but we were born before our experiences. We were someone before things happened to us. God created us before all of that. He knew us before we were born. The bible is full of confirmations about this.
We can use these Bible verses to help us forget the things that happened in the past, and rather remember God created us before all of that happened. He created us for a purpose. None of our (bad) experiences can change anything about that!
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; Before you were born, I sanctified you.”Jeremiah 1:5 (NKJV)
“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the Earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”Psalm 139:13-16 (NKJV)
“But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace.”Galatians 1: 15 (NLT)
‘The God of New Beginnings’ provides rich insights, examples, and guidance for receiving your new beginning from God. You will learn to grasp God’s nature, trust Him, and rely on His unfailing love for you.
How do I forget the past and move on with my life?
We can loosen ourselves from the negative influences of our past by truly seeing God’s way in our lives. By understanding that His purpose for us is greater than anything else, freeing ourselves from the influence of our past by not allowing it to define our present and future. We can break free and start a new life, a positive and purposeful life.
God created us for a reason, and He made us exactly how we should be. God’s purpose for our lives defines us, not our past. So, let’s forget the past and start holding on to our God.
7 steps to release and let go of the past
To forget our past, we need to take action. We can’t go on with our usual lives and expect things to change. We need to take steps and trust God to help us. He will do the rest. He will lead us into freedom and total victory!
Step one: get up!
Things may have gone wrong because of our mistakes or because of external causes. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt us from falling. However, we have something extra compared to unbelievers: “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.” (Proverbs 24:16). When we fall, we don’t need to stay on the ground. Failures, and even terrible experiences, are not the end. God knows the plans He has for us, and those plans don’t end when something goes wrong. He will accomplish the good work He started in us, and He will complete His purpose in our lives.
Step two: understand that God uses all things for our good
Nothing happens without God knowing it. This doesn’t mean He did the bad things to us. He uses our brokenness and the things we went through for something good. He turns it into something special, to glorify His Name.
We can keep this in mind whenever we think of the things of the past. We can then rather be in expectation of the good things God will do with it. This will help us look forward instead of backward.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
Step three: stop repeating mistakes
Our choices and actions really matter. We can choose to do things that will bring us more joy and give us more of a sense of purpose. Looking back to our past just to feel sorry for ourselves will add nothing good to our lives. But looking back for identifying the wrong choices we made to prevent repeating them in the future will help us. Preventing the mistakes of our past will bring more excitement and God-given purpose into our lives.
Step four: forgive yourself
A vital step in knowing how to let go of the past is to forgive yourself. After acknowledging mistakes made, we need to forgive ourselves. Beating ourselves up for the wrong things we did and said will keep us glued to our negative past and ruin our present lives.
Even if we find it hard to forgive ourselves, we need to take a step forward and ask ourselves for forgiveness. Forgiving ourselves will release us from our past and make us ready to move on with our lives.
Step five: forgive others
When others have hurt or even abused us, it can be extremely hard to find even the smallest forgiveness in our hearts. Yet God expects us to forgive others even when the hurt is extreme. He forgave us, so we can forgive others. We can ask God to help us forgive and forget, and then move on with our lives.
Step six: understand God’s purpose for our lives
After we have gone through the previous steps, it is time to look forward and to step in the purpose God has given us. We need to understand God’s purpose for our lives before we can embrace it. We do that by reading His Word, meditating on His Word, praying, and asking God for understanding. He will reveal our purpose to us.
Step seven: embrace God’s purpose
God is more powerful than anything that has happened to us, and His purpose for us remains no matter what has happened to us. We shouldn’t allow anything of our past or current circumstances to limit us or condemn us, because God knows better: “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” (I John 3:20)
Instead, we should embrace God’s purpose for our lives. Embracing our purpose here on earth and focusing on God instead of ourselves will help us forget and let go of our past. His plans for us are good.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
Thank You for giving me the strength to get up when I fall. Help me thoroughly understand that You use everything for my good, even the bad things.
I submit my memory to You. Help me forget the past and help me identify the bad choices and mistakes made. Grant me the wisdom to prevent making the same mistakes. Give me the grace to look forward to and see the wonderful future You have for me.
Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.