Are you a Prisoner of your Past?

Everyone has a past. In fact, some of us have more of a past than others. Some of our past was just given to us. We had absolutely no control over the who, where, and what of some of our past. You didn't choose your family of origin. You didn't choose where you grew up. You didn't choose the things that happened to you.

And then there are those pieces of our past that we did choose. Some were good choices, some still bring a sting of regret. And the truth of the past is that once it is written, it can never be erased. There is no delete or backspace key that allows us to go back and change anything.

Probably one of the most difficult things about our past is that who we are today is a result of our past. We have established patterns, habits, responses, expectations based on what we have come to understand as truth through our past experiences. Some of those experiences helped build strong character that empowers us. Other experiences lurk in the dark corners of our minds where we've tried to bury them. At times, these memories suddenly jump into our consciousness, our actions and our patterns of reaction.

Although none of us choose some of the things in our past, and many more of us have deep regret for the things we did choose, there comes a point where being the victim is crippling our present. I can't go back and change anything in the past. However, I can choose for today how I'm going to respond. Will I allow those past experiences to be stumbling blocks to my present, or will I choose to use those past experiences as stepping stones toward growth?

How do you prevent your past from imprisoning you in the present?

The only answer I have for how to actually live this out is found in God's Word. I believe that the truths of the Bible can be summed up in one word ... redemption. Not only is God's Word a narrative that points both forward and backward to the eternal redemption through the cross of Christ, but I believe it also speaks to the ongoing redemption of man. God doesn't leave those who choose Him to remain as they are. He takes the sum total of their life, where they are when they encounter Him, and begins to do a great work of redemption. Some of the most difficult experiences of life, become the greatest opportunities for growth and a deeper relationship with Christ. And the beauty of the story is, that God didn't just do that for folks who lived in Bible times. He has done His redemptive work throughout ALL time, including today. In your life. He has the power to redeem your past mistakes. He has the desire to redeem your painful circumstances. He has the love to redeem you.

So what will you do with your past? Allow it to cripple your present and dim your future? Or will you allow God to use it to grow you and encourage you and make you into a stronger person?

You are where you are. And God has a plan for where you are. Today. Not yesterday, but today. So what does God want for you in your new marriage and family? His plan is redemption. He wants to take what was broken, whether through death or divorce and redeem it. He wants to help you build a new family. Give Him a chance. Give Him your family. Give Him your marriage. Allow Him to redeem your past and give you a fresh new future.

I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord."  Psalm 40:1-3

About the author:

Teri is passionate about teaching, writing, and ministering to fellow sojourners. She spends her days working in ministry and her evenings and weekends being wife and mom.