Is there something from your past that you’ve tried to bury away, lock up, and forget?
Perhaps you’ve been able to keep it hidden underneath the surface—for the most part—until that moment when someone or something triggers you. And in that moment, like a volcano, everything floods back up to the surface and you erupt over everyone and anyone.
If you want to walk freely and fully into the life that Jesus promises everyone who follows him, you need to go back in order to go forward. Jesus wants to redeem your past and transform it into something beautiful, but in order to do that, you need to start by reflecting on your past.
How to Go Back To Go Forward:
Reflect on Your Past
When you make the decision to follow Christ, it says in the Bible that, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” (2 Cor 5:17 CSB).
Unfortunately, many people have confused this verse to mean that Jesus will wipe your past away when you follow him.
But that’s not what this means. This verse is not talking about wiping away your past, your personality, or your family! This verse is talking about wiping away the eternal consequences of your past.
So in order to go forward and grow into a spiritually and emotionally healthy relationship with Jesus, you must first go back and reflect on your past—and more specifically, on your family of origin.
Here are two questions to help you do this from Peter Scazzero’s material on Emotionally Healthy Spirituality:
- List the life messages you received from your parents or caretakers (e.g. money is the best source of security, sex is not to be spoken about openly, sadness is a sign of weakness, or avoid conflict at all costs).
- List “earthquake” events in your family history that sent “aftershocks” into your extended family (e.g. abuse, divorce, premature or sudden deaths, or shameful family secrets that came into the light).
I know how painful it can be to do this because I’m currently doing this work of reflecting on my past with a counselor! And yes, it is painful, but it’s been a good kind of pain because going back has been helping me to move forward in my personal journey of grief.
Repent of Your Past
Once you reflect on your past, it’s important to then repent of it. There are two parts to this:
- a)Repenting of what you did.
- b)Repenting of the grudges that you’ve been harboring for what others in your family have done to you.
For both, I’m obviously referring to repenting to God, but I’m also referring to eventually having a conversation about the past with your family and reconciling with them.
That’s why it says in the Bible to, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” (James 5:16 CSB).
Now I recognize that this might seem impossible to even fathom doing, but just consider what this one author, Lori Gordon, has to say about life if we live without experiencing the freedom of repentance.
“There’s an old story about a boy who, having grown up at the edge of a wide, turbulent river, spent his childhood learning to build rafts. When the boy reached manhood, he felled some trees, lashed them together, and riding his raft, he crossed to the far side of the river. Because he had spent so long working on the raft, he couldn’t see leaving it behind when he reached the dry land, so he lashed it to his shoulders and carried it with him, though all he came upon in his journeys were a few easily fordable streams and puddles. He rarely thought about the things he was missing out on because he was carrying the bulky raft-the trees he couldn’t climb, vistas he couldn’t see, people he couldn’t get close to and races he couldn’t run. He didn’t even realize how heavy the raft was, because he had never known what it was like to be free from it.” – Passage to Intimacy by Lori Gordon
Can you relate with this story?
Is there something from your past with your family that feels like a bulky raft? Are you carrying it around like a badge of honour? Or maybe, it feels more like a heavy weight of shame.
Here’s the thing, when you fail to repent of your past—or get rid of that bulky raft—your past begins to grow in power over you, so much so that it begins preventing you from living freely and fully into the purposes that God has for you.
So in order to go forward, you must first go back by reflecting on your past and repenting of it. Once you do this, you will continue to experience the redemption Jesus can bring to our past.
Jesus will Redeem Your Past
As you grow in your relationship with Jesus—and continue to have moments where you’re both reflecting and repenting of your past—Jesus won’t discard any of it. Instead, he will rewrite and redeem your past.
Jesus will transform the ashes of your past into a crown of beauty. He will comfort you in your mourning. He will rebuild relationships that seem like a lost cause. He will restore the brokenness that you’ve just gotten accustomed to. And he will renew the legacy of your family—wiping away the generational pattern of sin and instead replacing it with a generational pattern of blessing.
In place of shame, you will experience a double portion of blessing. And in place of disgrace, you will rejoice over your past because Jesus will turn your mourning into joy and he will transform your grief into happiness. (See Isaiah 61).
When you go back by reflecting and repenting on your past, Jesus will move you forward by rewriting and redeeming your past.
So, will you take the courageous step today of going back to go forward?
“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 CSB).
When you courageously go back in order to go forward, God will be with you. He will be with you as you open yourself up to reflecting on your past with your family. So do not fear. And do not be discouraged, no matter what you might discover.