By: Staci Stallings
One disturbing life trend I have noticed since beginning to read Lysa TerKeurst‘s book “Made to Crave” is that some people actually hold onto destructive idols. I’m not even talking about things like alcoholism or workaholism. I’m talking about things in their past that caused them a lot of hurt.
I’m not going to say I don’t understand this because I do. Sometimes our past seems so powerful that we let it control our future. For example, let’s say that in the past you were overweight. It is difficult to let go of “being” that even after you’re not. Or in the past you were poor, so now you hoard everything in case it ever happens again.
Sometimes it’s not so much the addictions that we’re holding onto but the difficulties. A spouse that loses their partner for example may live the rest of his or her life holding onto the grief of the loss. I’m not saying, “Don’t grieve.” Or even that it’s easy to let go, or that you should let go because everyone tells you to. What I’m saying is, holding onto what was can keep you from embracing what is.
I know people who let their past mistakes haunt them for years, chained to their foot, dragging behind them, sometimes even filling up their arms, head, and heart so nothing else can get in. My books often have characters like this. For example, my newest book coming out, “Deep in the Heart” features Keith Ayers, a young man with the world at his fingertips who hates everything about his life. He’s stuck because he has unresolved issues with his father whom he tries desperately to please on one hand and pushes away from on the other.
These types of “issues” are not easy to navigate and get past, but sometimes we are doing it to ourselves. We hold our “used to be’s” up like shields to protect us from what could be now.
“I don’t want to get into a new relationship because I got hurt in the last one.”
“I’m afraid to try this new investment. I lost money in the last one.”
“I’m afraid to trust God. He didn’t give me what I wanted last time.”
We let “the last time” determine what we are willing to do this time.
Now there is room for learning, and repeating destructive patterns is not a smart idea. But neither is clinging to old hurts, old issues, the old you. The more you cling to the old, the less the new can get in.
I have a dear friend who reminds me every time we talk about moving in the Spirit of God that, “I had 20 years of teaching in that church that said it was all up to me…” I understand. I really do. But if you want to get past it, ask for God to help you really get past it, and to stop using it as a reason not to embrace what He’s offering now.
I have great compassion for friends who are stuck in what was. In fact, in talking with one friend some painful memories of being left at the altar came up. It was literally 40 years later, and he was still holding onto that hurt! Even though he now had a wife and two grown children. As we worked together, he sent me a message one day saying that he’d used up a whole box of Kleenexes as he wrote about that day, but finally, thankfully, he had put it to rest.
It’s helpful as we think about what we crave and what we’re holding onto in place of God to realize that unforgiveness held against someone or ourselves takes up valuable God-Space in our hearts. Learn to forgive. Learn to let go. Learn to put even the greatest life hurts into God’s hands.
It’s time to let go and walk free, to step into this moment and live as God intended you to. Put the idols of past hurts down. Put idols of those who have hurt you down. Put down resentments, bitterness, anger. Put it down and leave it at the foot of the cross.
God has so much more He wants to pour into your life. It’s time to let Him.