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Forgetting the Past

“Oh honey, it is way too late for an epidural.”

Words spoken to me over 28 years ago, as I labored (for hours with no pain meds) to deliver my daughter.

As many women can attest childbirth is no joke- with or without medication.

For me, labor & delivery of my only child was the hardest, scariest and most physically painful event in my life.

What is so interesting is that I remember the events, but I cannot recall the actual “feeling“ of that extraordinary pain; it is like it has been erased from my mind.

I believe this “forgetfulness” wasn’t something magical, rather the result of a choice… choosing to let the joy of bringing home a beautiful baby girl trump the recollection of the terrible pain of childbirth.

Oh if it were that easy to apply this “forgetting principal” to all the other painful events in life!

We tend to cling- either to past pain or long ago happiness.

Do you remember the character, Miss Havisham from the Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations? A wealthy spinster left at the altar on her wedding day who can’t overcome the pain of her past. Poor gal, spends the remainder of her life locked in a dilapidated mansion, clothed in her wedding dress mourning her pain and the uneaten wedding cake!

You might not be just like Miss Havisham, but maybe you are dwelling on the “good old days;” - stuck in a time warp of nostalgia when you were the high school football star, married or had that dream job.

Or maybe you are like Miss Havisham and you are clinging to past hurts? Bringing them up at every chance to dwell upon. Clinging tightly to past transgressions or perceived wrongs.

Either way, let's learn from Miss Havisham- when we cling to former things we hinder ourselves.

We can't grow, we can't heal, we can't enjoy the present, we can't look forward to the future and we can't be happy for others.

We are stuck in place that offers no hope.

The Apostle Paul speaks on this very concept, and stresses the importance of forgetting and not allowing the past to hinder us-

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 3:13-14

Take note: the word “forgetting” is in the present tense.

Forgetting isn’t a one-time deal; rather a constant action or PRACTICE that we must make daily to keep the past from negatively defining or hindering!

Dwelling on the past should only be used for recalling God’s faithfulness, generosity, compassion and His presence in both the good times and bad.

When the past creeps into your mind with memories that leave you bitter or discontent - stop and acknowledge God’s goodness (then and now) and move on with praise and thanksgiving in your heart for today and tomorrow!

The past is just what it says “past.”

Practice "forgetting" each day- it can free you to have hope for the future!

Father, help us to forget the past and strain forward to the future. May we see you in all things even when the past reminds us of something painful. Help us to choose to see the positives in the present and to look forward to your promises of the future.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”~ Isaiah 43:18-19

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