LETTING GO OF THE PAST
We all have, to a certain extent, have had a bad experience happen to us sometime in the past, statements expressed as we relay the experience in our heads, or to a friend, sound something like this:
Why me? I don’t deserve this!
Who does he think he is?
How could they do that to me?
I am going to give him or her a piece of my mind the next time I see them!
It seems the event gets the better of us and before we know it we are consumed by anger, the more you think about it the more it seems to upset you and the more it takes away the precious moments found in the NOW. In that moment, it can be hard to see the light of the future.
Don’t look back
George Santayana, a philosopher and a 18th century poet once said that “History is meant to teach us lessons of life so that we do not repeat the past” Well, if that is the case, why do I say what I have just said about not living in the past and why was Lots wife turned into a pillar of salt? Let’s take a closer look.
In Genesis 19 verse 17, the Lord told Lot and his family to flee Sodom and Gomorrah because those cities were about to be destroyed “escape for thy life” he said “look not behind thee…lest though be consumed”. The people in Sodom and Gomorrah were been filled with iniquity and the Lord was not pleased. He told Lot to take his family and depart from the city.
I can’t help but think of my own past; my childhood had moments filled with lots of laughter, love and a blessed shelf of beautiful fleeting memories of which most of them were somewhat spent in tears, rushing from one traumatic incident to the next, with little comfort from my surroundings. I know now that I had to go through all of that in-order to come to know and exercise faith in Jesus Christ, his atoning sacrifice, and to know what shifts and/or transformations I am capable of.
My parents went their separate ways while I was in grade 10 and have stayed apart since then. Without much to hold on to I moved out of my dad’s house around the age of 16. I left for university and I never really came back. Figuratively, I find that I pay an occasional unintentional visit home - I was so afraid of repeating my parents’ mistakes that I would literally “dwell” on them - I spent so much energy trying to spot what went wrong and how I could avoid it. On one particular day, I received word to move on, to stop living in the past so much. This counsel was also given to Lot and his family as they had their backs towards Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord counselled “look not behind thee”
Do you remember Lots wife?
What did Lots wife do wrong? In an address delivered at Brigham Young University, titled ‘Remember Lots Wife: Faith Is for the Future’ Elder Jeffrey R Holland explains that Lots wife might have not just looked back, in her heart she wanted to go back, and he says it is even possible that she looked back in resentment towards the Lord for what he had asked of her. Elder Holland adds a fresh perspective that Lots wife did not have confidence that the Lord would be able to give her a future that was better than her past. He gives the counsel that the past is to be learned from not lived in.
“We [may] look back to claim the ambers from the experiences but not the ashes” is the take out message from Elder Holland’s talk. After leaning what had to be learned and brought with us the best that we have experienced then we look ahead, remembering that faith is pointed toward the future.
• “Lest though be consumed”
We, in these latter days, get consumed in a different way than Lot’s wife did. By living in the past, we bring it into our now and into our future. If the past was traumatic enough we can get stuck in it, replaying the same event(s) in our heads and upsetting ourselves to a larger degree, we re-invite it. We take the people and things that the Lord has asked us to leave in Sodom and Gomorrah and we want to take those awful situations with us. This is what I kept on doing as I kept going “home”.
More often than not people of old and even we are asked to have faith when we do not see evidence or signs that what we have been promised is sure. I find that I am fortunate that unlike Lots wife I did not turn into a pillar of salt. I do not take the counsel lightly though. I now know that if we have faith in Christ he will direct us to places that are far better and our riches will be more than could be contained in Sodom and Gomorrah. The realisation that faith is in itself evidence; it is a reaffirming statement [even from the heavens] that the future can be [as] bright [as you believe].
By letting go of the past, however painful it was, however marvellous, exciting or filled with treasures it may have been, we let go of “our story”. If we can work on this moment; the present, we give ourselves a fighting chance, couple that with a strong belief in God and hope that His blessings as promised will come to life (in time) we become a force for a better tomorrow.