I like to think of you as my friend. I mean, I know that we don’t “know” each other, but when I write, I like to imagine that you and I are sitting in a cute coffee shop, drinking our vanilla lattes and exchanging stories, advice, and hope. And even though we have never “met,” I also like to think we are a lot alike. You and me. We both have worries, fears, hopes, and dreams. But you know what else I like to think we both have? We both have those things from our past that weigh us down and sometimes hold us back. They might even cause us to lose sleep. Make us sick with anxiety. Or cause us to feel unworthy. Maybe even a little gross. But as your friend, can I ask you to do something? Can I ask you to let “it” go? Because it’s time. It’s time you no longer hold onto it, allowing“it” to steal from you any longer.
Because I know it’s stealing your joy. Stealing your happiness. Stealing your peace. And even your hope for better days. It’s even stealing the person you used to be…and the person you want to become. I know, because like I said, we all have an “it.” Including me. This is why I also know how it hangs over your head; like an invisible dark cloud. Just when you think you have forgotten about it, or maybe moved on, it sneaks back into your thoughts and then punches you in the gut.
You could be going about your daily routine of folding laundry, washing dishes, or driving to work, and all of a sudden, “it” begins to play in your head like a movie reel and all of the thoughts of how you should have said this or done that, begin to surface. You tell yourself that if only you had realized what was happening when it was happening, then you could have changed it. You could have done something. And if you had, then “it” wouldn’t be following you around and tormenting you right now. It wouldn’t be causing you so much anxiety. It wouldn’t be making you feel this way. Or cause you to have these awful breakdowns. It wouldn’t have changed your relationships. Or “it” wouldn’t have changed you…
So, as you play the movie reel, you begin to think about how you would give anything to go back and change everything if you could. But you can’t. So instead, you take ownership of what happened, and you hold on to “it.” You let the sorrow, the shame, the guilt, the rejection, the bitterness, the anger, or the self-hatred take root in your heart, and as it grows, “it” begins to set the course for your future. “It” negatively shapes who you are as a wife, a friend, a sister, a co-worker, and a daughter. It also keeps you from being hopeful or dreaming. It might even take root and cause you to have a sickness.
But you know what? That sorrow? That guilt? That shame? That bitterness? That anger? That self-hatred? That rejection? That heavyweight you carry around on your shoulders every day? Or around your ankles like a pair of ankle weights? You don’t have to let it weigh you down any longer. You don’t have to keep holding on to it.
You can release it.
You can let it go.
The past is in the past, and no matter how much you want to change it, you can’t. No matter how much you desperately want to rewrite the story and choose a different script with a different outcome, it’s not possible. You can’t take back what was said. You can’t undo what was done. You can’t make that person think differently about you or change their perspective about the situation. You can’t go back and say no. Or yes. Or stop. Oh, how I wish you could. But you know what you can do? I have learned that while you can’t go back, you can move forward. Because your past doesn’t define you, it doesn’t have the right to follow you around and swallow you up like a grave each time you think about it. It doesn’t have the authority to rob you of your hopes and dreams or cause you to believe the lie that you are unworthy.
So friend, the one I imagine myself sitting across from at the local coffee shop, sipping on vanilla lattes and listening to my heartfelt words, when the movie reel of when “it” happened starts to play in your mind again and the thoughts of “if only” creep up, choose to step out and not be the star of that scene. Choose to no longer hold on to “it” or let “it” hold on to you because “it” is not worth it. But letting go is. I believe that the minute we finally decide to let go of the burden and the weight from our past circumstances, past regrets, or past failures, then nothing can keep us down. Nothing can hold us back. And friend, when nothing is tugging or pulling on you anymore, you can freely move forward with more hope and energy into the abundant life that you were ultimately meant to live.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 (NKJV)
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