With ten minutes until the bell rang, sending throngs of teens, including my own, flooding through the middle school gates, I cranked up the air conditioner, pulled out my phone, and prepared to pass the time scrolling social media.
There were prayer requests that broke my heart, birthday wishes for people I should probably spend more time with, and that video of the baby snuggling a puppy that always makes my uterus sigh. Just saying.
But I wasn’t prepared for what came next.
Familiar faces stared back at me. Women I once considered friends, arms linked and smiles broad. The words were all sweet perfection and promises to march through thick and thin without even a whisper of wavering.
They were all together. Without me.
A knot gripped my stomach and my throat clenched with emotion. Yes, I could preach truth over myself. Sure, the wayward thoughts could be wrangled and pointed toward pure and lovely. Indeed, God IS good and His plans ARE perfect.
But my heart still split right down the middle.
Ever feel like your past visits at the worst possible time? A photo, a word, even a vaguely familiar situation can trigger a memory rush that fades all the healing and spotlights what once was. Suddenly that light at the end of the tunnel looks more like an oncoming train.
We can’t change the past, but we can walk into the future more wise.
Here’s the thing about yesterday and all the days before it: we can’t change them. Lord knows we can worry over the replay or devise that wish-I’d-said comeback, but still, we can’t rewrite history.
What can we do when the past revisits?
In order to move forward, sometimes we have to fix what’s been broken. Maybe it’s a long overdue conversation or a simple apology with no expectation of one in return. This isn’t always easy, but whereas bitterness only amplifies brokenness, a bit of humility can bring a lifetime of freedom.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:18 NIV
This might mean receiving it or giving it. Forgiveness works in both directions, but we can only control our own actions. In light of that limited control, sometimes our very best option is to surrender the situation to God and leave the justice, purpose, and greater plan in His able hands. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we need to maintain a relationship that’s better laid to rest. Sure, restored relationships are lovely, but that may not be God’s plan.
The reality is, as much as we’d like the past to stay put, it doesn’t always do so easily. Process, don’t stuff, emotions. Be intentional. Talk through things with a trusted friend or counselor, but don’t allow the past to haunt you or steal your present joy. Keep moving forward, and remember, a God of grace goes before us, so let’s give ourselves a little too.
Learn and lay it down.
Jesus isn’t holding yesterday against us. He isn’t asking us to rehash memories and relive mistakes. We are flawed, forgetful and fickle, but still worthy of His love. Learn, grow, and allow this situation to change you for the better. Rather than replay the past, celebrate what God is doing in your life now.
That night, I stared up at the ceiling, all the why, how and what happened questions perched on my brain. In that moment, I realized I had done all I could. With no ill will, and for lack of a “sorta-kinda acquaintances” feature, I confirmed for Facebook that we were no longer “friends.” For me, it was the better, wiser, healthier choice.
The past needed to be laid to rest. Maybe yours does too.
It would be peachy if God covered all our questions over the past with simple answers and favorable solutions. But life.
Rather than give us what we want, God provides what we need. His purpose is not to inform us, but to transform us. And friend, that’s a far greater future to fix our eyes on.
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