Break Free from the Past
by Christin Ditchfield
I have a dream.
Not nearly as lofty and noble as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s, but still pretty epic—in its own way.
In this dream (more of a fairytale, really), I get up early in the morning to spend time sitting at Jesus’ feet. I read my Bible and pray and record profound spiritual insights in my journal. Then I eagerly move on to tackle the day’s to-do list with unending enthusiasm!
Because I’ve wisely budgeted my time and energy, my list is not unreasonable or overwhelming. It’s all rewarding, fulfilling, meaningful activity, each item moving me forward, helping me to accomplish all that God’s called me to do in my career and ministry.
In my dream, I’m so organized and disciplined. I eat right and exercise and take care of all the everyday tasks that keep me on track. I’ve set aside time to connect with my loved ones, because these relationships are important to me. I’m not irritated or upset by interruptions—I’ve built in time for emergencies and mishaps, as well as divine appointments. And I have time for me, too.
At the end of the day, I can cross off every item on my to-do list. I count my blessings with a thankful heart. I feel such satisfaction, such contentment. Such peace.
(This is a dream, remember!)
I do not lie awake, tossing and turning, feeling guilty about things left undone. I don’t clench my jaw or grind my teeth worrying about things I can’t control. I don’t cringe with embarrassment or burn with shame, reliving the sins of my past. Nor do I relive the wrong that’s been done to me. I don’t vacillate between feeling ignored or overlooked by God—envious of the blessings He’s given others—and feeling that I’m such a disappointment to Him. I know He loves me, He sees me, He’s forgiven me. So I sleep easily and peacefully.
It really is an epic dream. And one that many women share. My sisters, my friends. We all have our own variation of it, our own dream of a beautifully perfect day (reasonably perfect, we tell ourselves), a perfect life.
So often I feel caught—torn between the sinful, imperfect woman I am and the woman I desperately long to be. The woman I sometimes am, or pretend to be. The woman who Jesus sees, the woman I will one day be.
And I feel stuck. Unable to move forward, unable to make any real progress in my journey with Jesus. Falling and failing over and over again.
Deep down I know I need to let it go. If I want to be free to be the woman God created me to be, I need to let a lot of things go. Things like impossible standards and unrealistic expectations. Guilt, shame, and regret.
I want to let it go. But how? How do I let it go? What does “letting it go” look like in real life? In my life? And is “letting it go” the end of it—or is there something more?
These are things I’ve been thinking about and praying about a lot lately.
I wouldn’t say I have all the answers. Honestly, I haven’t arrived. But I’ve finally been making some progress. I’ve been learning—sometimes as much from my failures as my successes, by trial and error. Learning from the lives of great men and women of the faith, from wise friends and godly mentors. Learning from Scripture and from Jesus Himself, growing in my love relationship with Him.
That’s what I want to share with you, to encourage your heart—as mine has been encouraged. And maybe save you a few steps on your journey. Help you get unstuck a little faster than I have.
The truth is, we don’t have to live in failure, discouragement, and defeat. We have a choice. We can choose to let the past (yesterday or years ago) define us and confine us. Or we can let it refine us. We can also choose to let it go and leave it behind us.
Christin Ditchfield is an author, conference speaker, and syndicated radio host passionate about calling women to a deeper life. She blogs at www.ChristinDitchfield.com
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