Friday, November 21, 2008



Out of control! Life just gets out of control no matter which way you turn. When your future is out of control, fear grips you. When your present is out of control, anger pops up. Today I want to discuss being out of control in the past. When your past is out of control, it's usually due to guilt.

Dealing with your past can be so destructive. Most tend to dwell on the past so much that it becomes impossible to move forward. Some spend so much time focusing on the past that they just can't see anything else. They are stuck there. It's like having a rear-view mirror that is larger than your windshield. You have to stick your head out of your window to see where you are going and that's dangerous!

What must happen is to take the past out of your future and put it back into the past where it belongs. But this, in itself, is not enough. You see, you might think you are burying your past, but when you bury it alive, your past will nag and haunt you, working toward your destruction. Somehow you have to do something to put your past to death, then your past will be under control.

One of the first things to do with your past is to identify its source. In II Corinthians 7:10, Paul compares two kinds of sorrow: Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. One kind of sorrow that surfaces out of past mistakes is a sorrow that comes from God. This kind of sorrow is good in that it causes you to make changes, which is called repentance here. Sorrow that causes you to change is Godly sorrow and you will have no regrets. Note when you are moved to make changes, you are out of your past and are very much alive in the present. The other kind of sorrow brings about death and destruction. This is the kind of sorrow that rises up out of your past to condemn you and to spiral you down to your destruction.

The second thing to do with your past is to resolve it. There are three ways you might attempt here: FIRST-Sometimes you need to remove yourself from the annoying, toxic connections from your past. This is very necessary for those who are in the recovery process from chemical and relational addictions. You have to get some new playgrounds and playmates.

SECOND-Sometimes you need to let it go. Simply let it go. There are times when you can do nothing to resolve your past or to do so will stir up more trouble. The common illustration of this is when you have been wronged, maybe financially and you choose to spend an enormous amount of negative energy to correct this wrong. It just isn't worth it. Let it go!

THIRD-Sometimes you may need to seek the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness moves in two directions-either people you have hurt or people who have hurt you. When you have hurt others, it's important to solicit forgiveness. Make a list of people you have hurt. Write out what you want to say and be completely honest. Keep it simple and be specific, taking personal responsibility for what you have done. Then, you must be willing to face any and all consequences. By the way, when you solicit forgiveness, make your method of communication as personal as possible.

Jesus taught us to solicit forgiveness: "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to that person; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24) It's interesting to note that if don't solicit forgiveness, you can't work well for God.

When others have hurt you, it's vital to forgive them. This is the ultimate act of "letting go". Forgiving is not forgetting, excusing or tolerating another person's hurtful acts against you. Jesus taught how important it is to forgive: For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15) In other words, God will not work well for you.

There are 5 steps to forgiving those who have hurt you: 1. Remind yourself that they are only human. 2. Relinquish your right to get even, because you never will. 3. Be ready to hurt in order to heal-willing to take the pain without making anyone pay for it. 4. Pray for them and wish them well. 5. You may have to repeat the process. When you forgive, you don't do it for others, but for yourself! This will set you free from the paralysis of guilt that haunts you from your past and is the ultimate way to resolve your out-of-control past

Recently, I was given a terrific visual on how to handle a past that is out of control. After listening to a client emotionally rehearse how many people had victimized her over the years, the attorney cut her off and handed her client a porcelain frog. She said, "Take this as a reminder for your life. A frog cannot jump backwards-only forwards. Don't be quick to jump into your past and dig it up. Stay in the present and when you jump, jump forward."

When your past is out of control, make like a frog and jump forward!