Archives For Getting Past Your Past

I dropped my card in the coffin on Thursday night.

It was an amazing moment for me personally as I forgave.  It was also an amazing moment as I watched friends forgive.  I watched husbands and wives who had held grudges for years against each other walk to the coffin hand in hand.

And as I watched the coffin full of past hurts and wrongs travel down the aisle, I felt relief.  I felt freedom.  I felt joy.

The person that I named on my card will probably never acknowledge that they wronged me.  This was my hang-up.  It was a strange mixture of emotions.  One part of me wanted them to know they had hurt me.  I wanted them to feel bad that they had caused me pain.  Another part of me was afraid that if I forgave them, it would change the relationship as it is now.  The hurts they caused were long in the past and I had pushed so many things deep down inside of me to make room for a “healthy” relationship.  I was afraid of the conflict and desperately held on to what I thought was peace.  I needed peace.  I needed safety.  I needed hope.

I decided before I came on Thursday night that I would put my card in the coffin.  I didn’t want to, really.  I mean, I did, but a big part of me was just so sure that nothing would change.  I made a decision to trust.  I trusted that this forgiveness was more about me and God than it was about me and the people who had wronged me.  I trusted that I would be living as the aroma and ambassador of Christ and others would grow if I forgave.  I trusted that the anger and bitterness inside of me would fade away when I forgave.  I trusted that along with forgiveness would come the peace and safety and hope that I knew I so desperately needed.

All of that is true.  48 hours later and I am already experiencing new peace and hope.  Even more than that, as I move into forgiveness now, I can heal.  I can change the parts of me that have been shaped by the hurts I’ve experienced.  I can untie the restraints that accompanied my unforgiveness.  I can clear the vision that was so blurred, and even sometimes blinded by my scars.  I can choose to walk forward toward a life of fullness.

If you were able to experience the past three weeks at one of our campuses or online, but still can’t take that final step and move forward in forgiveness.  I get it.  I have stood, frozen unable to decide whether I could do it; whether or not I needed to do it or honestly, even if I wanted to do it.  It isn’t always easy.  Actually, it’s more often than not painful and difficult, but it is so worth the journey.  I hope that my story and the others you hear over the next few weeks as we experience the fullness of the forgiveness to which God calls us, will encourage us all to forgive.

Our past follows us around.  Sometimes we admit it, sometimes we deny it.

There are two commercials on TV that are for medicine but I think they help illustrate the point.  There is a picture of a guy lying on the couch.  All you see is his head.  As the camera pans out, you see he has an elephant sitting on him.  We are sometimes being crushed by what we have to carry around, but we don’t deal with it.  “What elephant”.  The latest one is the asthma commercial, where the person says “I don’t have a problem with my asthma” and everyone she interacts with daily, pops into the picture with examples.  Denial can be our best defense sometimes, however everyone else can see right through it.  Here is my personal favorite.  A lady sitting on a suitcase (didn’t realize I watch so much TV until all these examples popped into my head) and the suitcase has twice as much in it and it won’t close, but she is determined to get it shut.  This reminds me of just ignoring it.  If I can just stuff this experience into this box, I can forget about it.

There is all kind of pain inflicted by other people in our past.  Do we say, that’s their problem and yet we carry the emotional baggage?  We remember every single detail of that incident 12 years ago, but they forgot about it the next week.

The last half of Matthew 6:12 should hit you right in the forehead: “as we also have forgiven our debtors”.  Wow!  Have we?  Can we?  Will we?  We have to answer those questions ourselves, but it could be the first step toward the healing we need.

…by Kevin McHugh

Greg used a 1-10 scale to help us make an assessment as to how much the pain of our past affects our lives today with a 10 being someone in need of counseling “institutional”, and a 1 as being someone hardly affected at all or in denial – “delusional.” For me, I am not on either of these extremes but I freely admit I am impacted by my past on a fairly regular basis. I suppose if there was a bell shaped curve on that 1-10 scale, I would be somewhere in the center region.

The teaching this week was challenging to say the least. One of the points on the message outline says “Getting past your past is never detached from forgiveness.” And one of the verses used to back that up is from Mark 11 where Jesus said “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” That’s not easy, and I’m in the middle of the bell curve. What about the people who are closer to a 10?

On my card are 3 names; one dead, one living, and the other I have no idea. Two are family and one is not. I carry some baggage from all 3 to this day, but the reality is that it is my baggage now and I own it. That’s the point from this week’s teaching – we own it; not them. We are all different and have our own experiences, so maybe you are relating to my thoughts and maybe you are not, but this is how it is helpful for me to think about it – this baggage belongs to me. From one person on my card, the affect is on my self-confidence. From the other two there is guilt and a sense of responsibility for something that is not from me. These are the people God is telling me to forgive.

God has forgiven us for a multitude of sins and He does so willingly and without reservation. In turn He asks us to do likewise. The verses Greg asked us to read tell us about the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant – if you haven’t already, read about it in Matthew 18:21-35. It is some compelling teaching from Jesus Himself that is not particularly easy. Please join me as I try my best to live it out.


Getting Past Your Past

Alex —  November 11, 2013 — Leave a comment

If you stop to think about it, who you are today is largely a combination of the experiences and relationships you have had through life… along with how you processed those along the way. In this message, we start a conversation (and process) to help you get past elements of your past that continue to hold you back today.