“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” ~Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)
If you regularly follow my blog, it’s no secret that I am very transparent about myself and my life. I do not hide behind my flaws, imperfections and mistakes, but rather try to use those things to encourage others and grow in my relationship with Christ.
There is one mistake I’ve made in my life that I do not normally talk about but am feeling led by the Holy Spirit to share; so I will be obedient in God’s leading.
I have mentioned that I am divorced, but about seven years ago, I entered into a second marriage that, for many reasons, lasted less than a year. I have felt shameful and embarrassed for a long time at the failure of that union and generally avoid the topic when it comes up with my friends and family.
I have learned a great deal through the unfortunate experience, including how the past impacts our choices, sometimes for the better, sometimes not so much.
The man I married was my very first boyfriend who I deeply loved; to the degree that any 15 year-old girl loves. He treated me poorly, broke my heart and life went on.
Fast forward, a lifetime later, and he suddenly showed back up in my life. I immediately became that 15 year-old girl again and was quickly infatuated. This time, he treated me like a princess and it felt like something out of a fairy tale. We eventually married but quickly divorced.
For a long time I could not figure out how I ended up where I did but after years of prayer and contemplation, God recently showed me where I went wrong. I was living in the past instead of the present. I was so swept away by this love from long ago that I didn’t see the red flags popping up all over the place right in front of me.
There’s a good reason why a car has a much bigger windshield than rearview mirror. We must occasionally glance behind us; however, our main focus is looking ahead and moving forward. Life is no different.
The lessons from our past shape us and help make us the people we are today and we should not forget those lessons and experiences. The past is a beneficial place to visit, but an unproductive and unhealthy place to settle down and live.
God knew Paul’s past record of persecuting Christians; yet He looked beyond that and Paul became one of Jesus’ most outspoken apostles. Imagine if Paul would have continued to allow the ghosts of his past to dictate his decision making. Millions of people would not have heard the Good News of God’s saving grace! Praise God that Paul chose to move beyond his past!
In the same way, God knows my past, and yours; yet He has long since moved beyond whatever mistakes we have made and can and will use them for good (Romans 8:28.) The past may have shaped you and me, but by the grace of God, we do not have to live there.
Make peace with your past and then let it go. God’s marvelous purpose for your life awaits you on the road ahead. Just keep looking through that windshield.