Past experiences are hard to let go of. Many of us hold on to guilt and shame far too long. We have all done things we regret. We have hurt people, our relationships, and some of our dearest friends and family members. We look back and we wish we would not have burnt that bridge. Some of us have a past history that looks bad. Some of it can even been seen through credit history or a criminal record. These things are not as easily erased.
I have also had past experiences that I am ashamed of. We must understand with the good in life comes bad. We are human and we make mistakes. We are not perfect. However, we can move forward and let go of the past. We have the here and now and a future. Here is my steps to moving forward:
Step 1: A willingness to change
You have to want to change in order to move forward. You do not want to repeat what you have done before. Make a commitment that you will not repeat your past failures and you will do your best to be a better person.
Step 2: Evaluating who you truly are
Make a list of your faults. Think about all the things you desire to change. Change does not come with ease. You may not have a wonderful feeling to start, but keep pressing forward! You will be tempted to repeat past behavior. Do not give in. One thing I do is what I call the Truth List. If you have not read this, I encourage you to do so. I assure you this is very useful. I had a issue with jealousy that is now diminished with this method. I use my truth list method often.
Step 3: Keep your problems to yourself
You do not have to reveal to everyone your willingness to change. This should be a vow you make to yourself. There is no need to pour out your faults and feelings to others. The only reason I say NOT to share is because people can use this against you. They can talk about you or make incorrect judgement. There is certain dirty laundry that others do not need to know.
Step 4: Taking it to God
Praying about your situation is the best solution. Truly repenting and showing genuine sorrow in prayer will greatly reduce your stress over a particular situation. Ask God for forgiveness and make a vow to not repeat your past. You can come to God with anything. You can show your emotions and request help from God. This is how your relationship with Him will blossom.
Step 5: Be forgiving of others and accept the gift of forgiveness
Mark 6:37 says this: Judge not, and ye shall not be judged, condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.
As we change, we must forgive what others have done to us. This does not mean we have to forget. We must be willing to let it go because God asks us to do this. Just like we have done things wrong, people have wronged us. It is time to let that go.
We must also decide we will not condemn others when they are doing wrong. We need to remember our faults and focus on them.
By doing this, we are free and clear to be forgiven ourselves.
God forgives us no matter what. If we come to Him and believe in Him, He will forgive us of our sins. We do not need a priest to do this. There is nothing in the Bible that tells us we need to speak through others for forgiveness. This is between you and God.
Step 6: Do not let setbacks get in your way.
You are human and mistakes will be made. As long as you continue to strive to do better, you will eventually get to where you need to be. We are human and we will have pits we fall into. Remember to go to God in prayer about those things. The gift of forgiveness is a continuing gift for Christ’s believers. I am so thankful for it!
However, do NOT think you can keep repeating past behaviors and use this gift unwisely. You must take God and your commitment seriously. When you do this, it is hands off and you are on your own. You want to continue to make an genuine effort toward change.
Step 7: Do not expect emotional breakthroughs
For the longest time, I sought a feeling after my prayer. There were times I would feel really good and then others where I would have no emotion at all. For whatever reason, I was expecting a outburst of happiness and joy.
We have to remember things do not always come with a feeling. We must press forward and continue to do what is right regardless.
Believe me, there will come a day when that guilt is gone and you will be at peace with your past.
Step 7: Know you are forgiven
Stay in the mindset of knowing you are forgiven even if you do not feel it. Anytime guilt creeps in, refuse to allow it to take over. Rejoice in the fact you are forgiven.
Follow up ideas:
A great way to continue your path of change is to read your Bible. If you have not read my in-depth Bible study guide, I encourage you to do so. You can also do quick Bible studies when you are pressed for time. Remain studying the word of God and continue to pray. I spend time with God in the morning and night. This truly helps you relate to the word of God and draws you into a closer relationship with Him.
Keep pressing forward in good and bad days. Never give up on your willingness to change.
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