Many of us want to put the past behind us. It is harder than it looks. It keeps you from enjoying new experiences and broadening your horizons. It threatens to never let you go.
A lot has happened to all of us and it is not all pretty. I know I have a hard time doing that. I accidentally unlocked one of the secrets for giving up the past.
I hugged the dress to me. “I’m letting you go, Gwen,” I whispered as I put it in the thrift shop. Gwen loved God and she would approve of letting it go to benefit missionaries. The dress never fit right on the top, and was a bit too long for me, but I loved it because she gave it to me.
I only knew Gwen for a few years but quickly grew to love her. We met in church. She had a lot of health problems and toward the end, frequently went into the hospital. She told me that the next time she went in, she probably would not come out. It happened that way.
One afternoon, I sensed her presence near me for only an instant. “Gwen, is that you?” I asked, and knew she was gone. A phone call a short time later confirmed that.
So many things in the past are hard to give up. We lose loves and friendships, children, parents, and dear friends. Terrible things muddy up our yesterdays: mistakes, misjudgments, acts we wish we could take back, and things we said that wound worse than a shotgun blast.
One thing at a time.
It is easy to say to give up the past. Preachers write whole sermons about it, musicians compose songs about it, and people expect you to just get over it. Doing it is much more difficult than just deciding to do it.
When I let the dress go on to a new life, I realized something. We need to make an effort to give each past thing up one at a time as we think about it and are ready. It is too hard to just say goodbye to it en mass.
Gwen will always live in me as a beautiful memory. I will always remember her. I keep a treasured memento of her. It is a small ceramic nativity scene that she gave another friend that I helped take care of for a time a few years ago. Her family gave it to me.
When I see the tiny crèche, I remember them both, each part of the past but a promise of the future when I see them again some day when my time on earth is done. Jesus promises to prepare a place for us. “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2 KJV