As many of you know I have a past.
A past I’m not proud of but one I’ve chosen to learn from and abandon to the mercy of Christ.
I often receive questions about how to let go, accept love and forgiveness and what to do after reconciliation. Here are five steps I took in the process of healing. I’ve also included five steps to hold on to the past – hint: these are to be avoided. Sadly, I’ve practiced both sets at different times of my life and hope you will choose wisely by letting go.
Five Steps to Let Go of the Past
1. Pray everyday. Begin your day with prayer, attend a bible study, or attend an additional church service or Mass. Prayer is not only right and just worship to God but also reminds us that we are not alone. Set a reminder on your phone at a certain time each day to pray even if it’s only for a few seconds.
2. Get Spiritual Guidance. This can be a spiritual director such as a Priest, Sister or a faithful lay Christian that is willing to walk with you through this season of life. This person offers a kind of spiritual guidance/counseling – meeting usually twice a month and going over your current life challenges and spiritual practices. You don’t have to be a spiritual giant to have a Spiritual Director – you just need to be a sinner that wants to be better – and we all fit that description.
3. Build up, not down. Fill your eyes, ears, and mouth with uplifting books, music and speech. Read an inspiring spiritual book. Listen to Christian music that lifts the soul. Speak only words of kindness about yourself and others. A wise man once said, “If it doesn’t help you get up the mountain, leave it behind.”
4. Give of yourself. Get involved with a community project or charity that helps others. Feed the homeless, donate your time to an after school tutor program, visit the elderly, bake cookies for your neighbor, etc… These types of charity leave you feeling better while simultaneously helping someone in need.
5. Get on a schedule. Prioritize your life. Marathoners train by a set schedule, running a set amount of miles each day and a few days of rest. Without it they would never make it through the race effectively or at all. Your race is LIFE. This race is set at a slow and steady pace of virtuous decisions and sticking to priorities. I use an app to help me with my priorities called, Lift http://lift.do/ .
On the other hand, here are the steps to hold on to our past, not embracing the mercy of Christ and allowing it (the past) to dictate our future.
Five Steps to Hold On to the Past
1. Refuse help from God. Pride often keeps us from accepting the mercy and forgiveness of God. Humility is the lively virtue that combats pride and opens the door to reconciliation.
2. Refuse Help from others. Refusing help from others is another source of pride and not only worsens our situation but robs another of the opportunity to show charity. We were not meant to be isolated in this world; community is needed for healthy growth.
3. Isolate yourself. This is not the same as solitude or meditation but purposely choosing to be alone in our pain of past regrets rather than seeking counsel or the company of others.
4. Focus on your sinfulness and past. Wallowing in our sin, indulging in negativity and guilt get us nowhere fast. While we can’t change the past, we can change our attitude and choosing to make better decisions in the future. Abandon your past to the mercy of God. Leave it at the foot of the Cross and keep your eyes on the Risen Lord who will never abandon you.
5. Tunnel Vision. Tunnel vision makes it impossible to see us in the future and what we can achieve and contribute to the world – all we focus on is our immediate pain, guilt etc… Tunnel vision robs us of hope. Tear off the blinders, take a good look around and see the good in life.
What are some of the steps you have taken to let go?