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Can We Really Put Our Past Behind Us?

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  • Can We Really Put Our Past Behind Us?

    For those that might be struggling with spiritual abuse or wounds of the past, and have received counseling to just "put it behind you", here is some food for thought on this subject, which I think you might find helpful. This is directly quoted from the following website:

    "Can we really put our past behind us?

    It is very important that we never allow our past to dictate what we do or do not do in the present tense. Our past is no excuse for our current behavior or choices. We are not victims of our past. However, to say we can just put it all behind us and think that it will just go away, not impact or influence us, and somehow leave us alone is wishful thinking.

    The truth is, our past is behind us. It is called memory. The question is what we will do with the memory that we have no option but carry. Those who suggest just putting it behind generally choose to suppress it, deny it, block it out and refuse to allow it to creep into conscious awareness. The problem is, no matter how deep we bury it and even should we forget where it is hidden, it knows where we live and revisits us in our dysfunctions, marital rifts, and through other relational sabotage. All of our present behavior is linked to our thinking. All thought is connected to what we know and have learned. Everything we know we received in experience. All experience is in the past and therefore a memory. This makes cleaning up our memories of lie-based thought a crucial part of what we do if we are to be "transformed (changed) by the renewing of our minds" (Rom. 12:2) Some people pride themselves in their ability to "rise above" their past basing their success in their ability to achieve and perform in spite of their past. This is commendable but it really does little to deal with the lie-based thinking that is held at the core level in their thinking. Our core beliefs remain intact no matter how well we perform. Sometimes our performance is actually the outcome of us running from and avoiding the pain that is held in our past. Not everything we call spiritual is always that."

  • #2
    Can We Really Put Our Past Behind Us?

    "A Common Mis-use of the Philippians 3 Passage

    We sometimes hear people say you should "put the past behind you" misusing the Philippians 3 passage to support this thinking. "forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead..." (3:13). The context of this passage is not referring to Paul's painful past but was referring to putting his past efforts in self righteousness behind him.

    The Apostle Paul was not referring to painful past memories when he said, "forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead" (Phil. 3:13), but rather he was referring to his former acts of self-righteousness. He called his past efforts in self-righteousness a pile of dung. It was these ways of acting that he was putting behind him because he had come to see them as worthless acts of self-righteousness. People who quote this verse to get us to deny what we feel and "forget" our painful past are not allowing it to be interpreted in its proper context. Re-read verses 1-12 of this passage in its context to see what the Apostle was describing. Let the passage say what it says and nothing more. To use this passage to support suppression and denial is not good biblical interpretation. "


    • #3
      Can We Really Put Our Past Behind Us?

      "Putting the past behind us is both practically and neurologically impossible.

      Some say we should put the past behind us by not thinking about it any longer and by pressing forward to what lies ahead. It would be great if this was actually possible, but practically and neurologically it cannot be done. If what people mean is just choose to not be influenced by your past and block out any troubling painful memory, then this is simply suppression and denial and not anything spiritual. Every thought in our mind comes from our history. God designed our minds to draw from the historical information stored in our minds. It is designed to work well unless the information is flawed with lies. This is why the mind needs to be renewed. To just not think about it is to live in suppression and denial and to keep the lies we harbor hidden. There is a more profitable solution and that is to own our past, identify the lies that are at the root of the pain and find truth from the Word of God and by listening to the communication of the Holy Spirit.

      The past is a wealth of knowledge that has great benefit when it is lie-free. The truth is, all that I have is my past and a tiny moment in time we call the present. Everything that I have in my mind is memory, and every emotion that I feel is connected to some aspect of my thinking, which is based on memory (unless the emotion is due to a bio-chemical problem). To "put my past behind me" in the sense of trying not to think about the past is to fight against how God has created my mind to operate. Putting my past behind me is a program of controlled behavior that is self-reliant and dependent upon my efforts in maintaining it. Anytime self-effort is the power source, defeat is often just around the corner.

      Self-effort was never God's solution for overcoming sin that is motivated by lie-based thinking nor is His solution to lie-based thought denial of its existence.
      Genuine renewal does not come from building strong logical defenses against the lies, or from embarking on a program of suppressing behavior motivated by lie-based emotions. Just choosing not to think about our past does not provide any long-term solution to our lie-based pain. This emotional pain is coming from the lies in our history, not the history itself. Rather than not think about the memory event, we can choose to identify what it is in the event (the lie) that is causing the problem and find His truth. It is this lie harbored in the memory that is in need of renewal. True release comes from being set free from the lies that motivate sinful behavior."


      • #4
        Can We Really Put Our Past Behind Us?

        "Unless a person encounters Christ through the Holy Spirit his life will not change. This does not invalidate the necessity of discipleship, Bible study or biblical instruction but rather points out the need for balance between this and having experiential moments with God. Knowledge of God with the absence of "knowing" God experientially and relationally is meaningless."

        "In Romans 12:2 we are told to "be transformed by the renewal of our minds." This means that there are things that we believe that need to be replaced with truth. We cannot have a change of heart about the lies we believe and embrace the truth He has for us, if we are unwilling to look back to what we believe. And everything that we believe is located in the context of experience. Throwing more truth on top of lies will not resolve the problem. We must identify the lies we believe before we can find freedom from them. If what a person means when he says "put your past behind you" is for us not to be self-absorbed with the events of the past while there is no resolution from the lies we have harbored, then I agree. If all I do is think about how bad I have had it and do not find resolution of the pain in my past then I accomplish nothing and have succumbed to a victim status. Conversely, if what I do is bury the past and never attend to the lies that permeate my thinking, then I am as bad off as the other. God desires that we own our past, identify what we believe and seek Him for the truth. Herein lies true victory."


        • #5
          Hi JIA! What a profound post you've offered for us to read. I've pondered it for a day now, considering the widsom of your words. I especially appreciated your last sentence "God desires that we own our past, identify what we believe and seek Him for the truth. Herein lies true victory." I believe that part of accepting the past and letting God's light shine upon it, includes forgiveness...of course that's an ongoing, daily the renewal of our minds. Truth sets us FREE! Free to walk in the abundant life and Joy that comes from a relationship with the Living Son of God.

          Thank You so much for your post and wisdom.


          • #6
            Thanks Wildy, but I can't take any credit. Everything is quoted from the website listed at the beginning. Hopefully, it will be a helpful resource.