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5 Ways to Deal with Your Past

By November 16, 2015Christians, Church

I’m a huge proponent of moving forward. I’ve never been a fan of remaining in the past.

This could be because I’ve had some past I’d rather not remember.

It could be because I am very forward-thinking.

Either way, and it’s probably the first, I’d prefer to reconcile the past, make the most of it, and get on with my life.

Bottom line, however, is that there are really a few choices when it comes to dealing with your past.

Here are 5 ways to deal with your past:

Forget it – If you choose to and you are really skilled, you can block all memory of the past from your mind. In extreme settings, I have seen people do this naturally, but I must admit, it’s rare. And, because I believe we learn from mistakes, I wouldn’t even recommend it.

Misuse it – You can twist the past for your benefit – gain sympathy, make people feel sorry for you, and use it as a personal advantage. You could be a martyr. The people who choose this option, in my experience, are usually as phony as the story they share. It’s often hard to trust them. 

Ignore it – You can pretend your past never happened. You can make up your own version of your past, make it prettier and live in a false reality. With the people I’ve seen do this it seems you never really know the true person behind the stories they tell. They are always hiding a part of themselves. 

Excuse it – You can blame every bad decision you ever made on someone else or every future mistake you make on your past. After all, it was “his” fault”, right? I’ve known people with this excuse who never own up to responsibility – and they always seem to find a reason for not doing so. They never take ownership of their actions.  

Use it – In my humble opinion, as one with plenty of brokenness in my story, the best way to deal with your past is to use it for a greater good. How could your story benefit someone else? How could God use your brokenness to bless others? What have you learned, which others need to hear? Let your past help build your — or someone else’s — brighter future. 

I’m not pretending this will be easy. It will probably involve hard decisions and choices such as forgiveness, confession, and being vulnerable with people. But, the reward for allowing God to use your past for a greater good and being freed from the weight of your past will be worth it.

Which option are you currently choosing to deal with your past? (Be honest!)

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 21 Comments

  • Wayne Stiles says:

    I love this, Ron. So often temptation will only hold up for you the “good” feelings of release, thrill, and excitement, without having you remember the awful feelings of regret, failure, and aloneness that follow willful sin. I.e. the familiar words: "You surely will not die!" (Genesis 3:4). Satan would have us sidestep the grievous, evil fallout in order to gain a temporary “good.” Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and a lack of joy comes when we grieve God’s Spirit through willful disobedience (Gal. 5:19-22; Eph. 4:30). Joy in life—the emotional enjoyment of a walk with God—is inseparably linked to obedience.

    Basically, I think it’s helpful to linger longer over our lousy mistakes so that we’ll remember that the bait always—always—hides a hook.

  • val says:

    I chose option 1 for 25 or 30 years. God brought me to a place of remembering last year and i'm still working through it. Since then, I believe i've used options 2, 3 and 4, as well. My area is so rural that it may as well be the mission field so there's no access to Biblical counseling, let alone healthy churches. But i'm trusting the Great Physician for my healing. He bought one person in my life to get me to the remember stage then the person moved away…now He is using His Word and people online to minister to me and i've gone from a 13 year performance-based, fear-driven belief system to one that is rich in grace and mercy with a clear understanding that Jesus really did pay it all. I'm idea how this can possibly be used but it doesnt really matter. I'm not fake anymore. Been searching for security and love for many many years….even my husband and 3 children could not provide it for me. But God has a plan for me and pulled me up out of the pit. Resting safely in the arms of my Savior is about as good as it gets. Not sure what's next but number 5 on your list would be amazing! 🙂

  • Laurinda says:

    Great post. Very timely. I love use it! I wish I could forget.

  • Eric

    What a great post today. It's easy, direct and pointed! I'm trying to use my past to grow from it. It's not always the case but at least I'm attempting to do it.

  • Bryan

    I don’t like doing it, because quite honestly it sux, but I am one to face it and get it out of my way! People have the most annoying habit of trying to use it to manipulate me, hold it over my head until I “do what’s right”! Or better yet: “make it right!” If it weren’t pathetic it would be funny. Having said this, I consider it so much better in the long (and even the short) run to just deal with it! Admit to what I said, did, or didn’t do; make amends while I can. People can be forgiving if we are forthcoming!

  • @bbow73 says:

    If you have a disproportioned reaction to something then you probably have unresolved issues in you past.
    Fixing it depends on what it its from the past that is weighing you down.

    If it's an experience with a person, then you can resolve it with some basic human understanding (read the book 'Real Love') and a Christlike attitude.

    If it is a traumatic event (like an accident) then 'use it', if you are having trouble getting there then go see a crisis counselor.

  • @melissa1970 says:

    Trying to get to the point of "using" it. I know every Christian's story is meant to benefit and minister to others or God would not have us go through it. I am finally to the point I am willing to share my story and see how God uses it, but also waiting on the right time and place…. :)__

  • LAM says:

    Learn from it AND allow God to use it!!

  • I have sometimes had the tendency to excuse (or is that make excuses) for my past. "I was raised that way." or "if he/she had not done/had done something I would have not have…" You get my drift. I am now at the stage (I hope) where I use It to learn and hopefully not make the same stupid mistake. 🙂 I have lapses but on the whole I think I am moving more and more toward this.

  • Chris says:

    I am pretty good at ignoring, forgetting and excusing.

    I struggle with using it because I allow myself to think that if I try to use it, that people will only respond to me because of sympathy. I have seen people confuse use and misuse and I don't want to fall into that trap.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thanks Chris. I was trained in counseling people not to use my story, but I've also found that keeps me from identifying with people. 2 Cor 1 says otherwise.