The past can be an amazing thing. My children were born in the past, I was married 21+ years ago, and I studied and showed myself approved to recieve a master’s degree just a couple weeks back. The past can be something worth remembering.
The past can also be terrifying. There are events that happen in our past that we would rather soon forget or hope they never had have happened. There are terrible things that people have gone through in their past.
Our past can do one of two things to us: Our past can either paralyze us or prepare us.
I remember when I was in the summer between my 6th and 7th grade year. I had something going on in my brain. Yes, I have one of those. One of the tests that was run on me was a spinal tap. It’s where they take a very long needle and run it up my spine from the bottom to the top (or at least the way I remember it as a young child). I was given some local anesthesic to help me make it through the procedure. I remember after it was done I had a weird sensation that made me think I couldn’t move my legs. It was a terrifying experience for me. For a moment the idea of being paralyzed stopped me in my tracks.
A lot of us are there when it comes to our past. In the acknowledgement of our past hurt, failures, and even our successes we can become stuck in that moment. Yes, even in our successes we can, at times, become paralyzed to do anything else. We fear that we may never add up to that one of the great moment in our life. Have you ever met that 45 year old guy who still tells the story of his state championship days while wearing his letter jacket?
Paul reminds us here in Philippians, “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead”. So, should we forget everything from our past? Even the good stuff? No! Does this mean Paul is saying “just get over it” to those tramatic events I have gone through? No! The meaning that Paul is getting at here in this passage is that of a runner who has started the race and is moving toward a finish line or resolution. If the runner kept going back to the starting line each lap to “start again” the runner would fall behind of where they should be. Or if the runner keeps looking over their shoulder to what is behind them, they are not moving forward. Paul is saying let’s focus on what is ahead in light of what is behind us. Even the terrifying and traumatic things in your past are shaping you. We need to be able to see those things as something that is part of the journey forward. Yes, it is a terrible part of the journey, one that we would rather have not happened, but it’s part of our journey still. Part of “forgetting” may be working through our past with a license counselor or getting help working through it in some significant way. The “forgetting” is us believing that we have more to come. We are created for more than what the past brought to us. The “forgetting” comes in the form of moving forward. Even if it’s one step everyday. Even if we fail and fall back, the “forgetting” is in the getting back up and moving forward one more day!
When it comes to moving on, allow your past to be something that shapes us and something that prepares us to become more of the person God has created you to be! We are all in this together, be kind, love God, and love people!
May the Holy Spirit breathe on you today. May your Spirit be refreshed. May you know that no matter your past, you are not alone. Amen!