What to Do When Your Past Revisits You

With ten minutes until the bell rang, sending throngs of teens, including my own, flooding through the middle school gates, I cranked up the air conditioner, pulled out my phone, and prepared to pass the time scrolling social media.

There were prayer requests that broke my heart, birthday wishes for people I should probably spend more time with, and that video of the baby snuggling a puppy that always makes my uterus sigh. Just saying.

But I wasn’t prepared for what came next.

Familiar faces stared back at me. Women I once considered friends, arms linked and smiles broad. The words were all sweet perfection and promises to march through thick and thin without even a whisper of wavering.

They were all together. Without me. 

A knot gripped my stomach and my throat clenched with emotion. Yes, I could preach truth over myself. Sure, the wayward thoughts could be wrangled and pointed toward pure and lovely. Indeed, God IS good and His plans ARE perfect.

But my heart still split right down the middle.

As much as we'd like the past to stay put, it doesn't always do so easily. We may not be able to change what's happened, but we can walk into the future more wise. | Encouragement | Healing | Biblical Truth | Hope | Christian Blog | Forgiveness |

Ever feel like your past visits at the worst possible time? A photo, a word, even a vaguely familiar situation can trigger a memory rush that fades all the healing and spotlights what once was. Suddenly that light at the end of the tunnel looks more like an oncoming train.

We can’t change the past, but we can walk into the future more wise.

{Tweet that}

Here’s the thing about yesterday and all the days before it: we can’t change them. Lord knows we can worry over the replay or devise that wish-I’d-said comeback, but still, we can’t rewrite history.

What can we do when the past revisits?

Attempt amends.
In order to move forward, sometimes we have to fix what’s been broken. Maybe it’s a long overdue conversation or a simple apology with no expectation of one in return. This isn’t always easy, but whereas bitterness only amplifies brokenness, a bit of humility can bring a lifetime of freedom.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:18 NIV

Pursue forgiveness.
This might mean receiving it or giving it. Forgiveness works in both directions, but we can only control our own actions. In light of that limited control, sometimes our very best option is to surrender the situation to God and leave the justice, purpose, and greater plan in His able hands. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we need to maintain a relationship that’s better laid to rest. Sure, restored relationships are lovely, but that may not be God’s plan.

Be intentional.
The reality is, as much as we’d like the past to stay put, it doesn’t always do so easily. Process, don’t stuff, emotions. Be intentional. Talk through things with a trusted friend or counselor, but don’t allow the past to haunt you or steal your present joy. Keep moving forward, and remember, a God of grace goes before us, so let’s give ourselves a little too.

As much as we'd like the past to stay put, it doesn't always do so easily. We may not be able to change what's happened, but we can walk into the future more wise. | Encouragement | Healing | Biblical Truth | Hope | Christian Blog | Forgiveness |

Learn and lay it down.
Jesus isn’t holding yesterday against us. He isn’t asking us to rehash memories and relive mistakes. We are flawed, forgetful and fickle, but still worthy of His love. Learn, grow, and allow this situation to change you for the better. Rather than replay the past, celebrate what God is doing in your life now.

That night, I stared up at the ceiling, all the why, how and what happened questions perched on my brain. In that moment, I realized I had done all I could. With no ill will, and for lack of a “sorta-kinda acquaintances” feature, I confirmed for Facebook that we were no longer “friends.” For me, it was the better, wiser, healthier choice.

The past needed to be laid to rest. Maybe yours does too.

It would be peachy if God covered all our questions over the past with simple answers and favorable solutions. But life.

Rather than give us what we want, God provides what we need. His purpose is not to inform us, but to transform us. And friend, that’s a far greater future to fix our eyes on. 💛

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You can also find these words linked up at my favorite spots: Jennifer Dukes LeeHolley GerthKristin Hill Taylor, Lyli Dunbar, Crystal Storms, Salt & Light and Grace & Truth.

As much as we'd like the past to stay put, it doesn't always do so easily. We may not be able to change what's happened, but we can walk into the future more wise. | Encouragement | Healing | Biblical Truth | Hope | Christian Blog | Forgiveness |

37 thoughts on “What to Do When Your Past Revisits You

  1. What a wonderful post, Tiffany! I, too, have experienced ‘hauntings’ from past relationships. It wasn’t until those relationships ended that I was able to see just how unhealthy they were. I have chosen to feature your post on this week’s Grace and Truth. Be sure to pop by my site tomorrow and get the “I was featured” button.

  2. Ouch. That hurts. :( I was on the phone today with a friend who wasn’t invited to a girls’ day out on Saturday and even though she might not have gone even if invited, it still bothered her that no one invited her. We all feel the bumps and bruises of life and they hurt. You ended up with a good attitude though and I appreciate you sharing it: “His purpose is not to inform us, but to transform us.” That’s not always what I want (I want the information too!), but I know it’s best. Blessings to you, Tiffany!

  3. Love your insights here. I can imagine how I’d feel if I saw a photo like that. This is so good: “Keep moving forward, and remember, a God of grace goes before us, so let’s give ourselves a little too.” Also, the reminder that we don’t need to keep looking at the past since that’s not where we’re going. Simple to say, but oh we need grace to keep eyes on God and on our future, don’t we?

  4. Thank you Tiffany! The timing of reading your post is quite uncanny… I attended a party last night at an old workplace where I invested many years of my life. I walked away feeling heavy with the grief of looking back & wondering what it had all been about. It was so affirming to read your words, obviously inspired by God, and to know that the past is gone, and it’s time to turn my eyes back onto my wonderful current job, the supportive people in my life and all the other surprises and adventures God has in store for the future. Thanks again for lifting my spirit this morning!

    1. I’m so ver glad these words met you, Kerry, and your spirit was lifted. Being pulled back into those memories and situations can be so hard and I know my emotions often take over. How sweet that God is reminding you of the beauty and goodness of where He has you right now. I do believe you’re right…new adventures await!

  5. Thank you for these tips about letting go of the past! The disappointment of seeing your friends without you is hard to swallow. I’ve been there too. Luckily like you I decided they weren’t the friends I wanted!
    Visiting from #Salt&Light

  6. Wise words Tiffany. Feelings of rejection strike no matter how old we are, thank you for your gracious example and encouragement to respond in forgiveness and grace. :)

  7. Timely words. Been dealing with the past crashing into the present this week. There is nothing I can do on the situation. But I do need to process and work out my feelings. Sometimes I wish God would just magically fix everything, but then what would we learn? How would we be able to use our pain to help others? And how would we be transformed?

    1. Really good questions, Theresa and none of the answers are simple, are they? I’ve been known to pray for that magical fix, but generally my solution is rooted in selfishness and the quickest way out, whereas God’s purpose is all transformation and far reaching growth. In the end, I think we both know which route is most beneficial. I will pray for you friend, that God gives you the space, time, and support you need as you process through all of those feelings. If I can do anything for you, don’t hesitate to reach out. Big hugs!

  8. Well stated Tiffany. So glad to receive your newsletter again. I need to send mine out this weekend. Satan definitely will attempt to use our past to defeat and discourage. He is neither omnipotent or omnipresent. He watches and studies looking for the opportunity to use our past against us. It is so key for Christians to see ourselves as God sees us. We have been washed in the blood of Christ. It is a hard task indeed, but in God’s strength we can have victory. Thank you for this thought provoking post and for sharing your story. You write with such heartfelt honesty I hope you have a safe a fun holiday weekend. Blessings to you and yours my friend.

  9. I love how that verse in Romans 12 says, “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” If I have truly forgiven, and tried to make all the amends, but the other person isn’t willing for the change, then is the time that you spoke of to step away. I have recently been seeing how the “fixer” in me rises up when I want to keep trying to make things right. It really is another act of surrender to leave it in God’s hands then. Thank you so much for your honesty in sharing your heart here!

    1. I can fall into that fixer mode too, Bettie. Sometimes we want so badly to sort things out and smooth the path. But I know I’ve run ahead of God before and found that what He removed from my life, was better laid to rest. Thanks for visiting, friend. Love hearing from you.

  10. Tiffany, this post was something I really needed to hear today, thank you! It’s incredible what attempting to make amends, freely giving forgiveness, and giving everything to Jesus can do for our hearts. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I really appreciated your words here. It’s so true that there are times when we need to move on from the past, to stop looking back and focus on what God is doing now. It’s definitely one of the dangers of social media that we can get caught up in looking at what others are doing and I agree there are times when it’s the wise choice to remove ourselves from that.

    1. Yes, I agree, Lesley – social media can really amplify those hurts when we fall into that comparison trap or keep putting those trigger points on reply. It can be so good to fix our eyes on the blessings of here and now. Thanks for joining the conversation today.

  12. Your words have spoken into my heart today. Thank you for sharing your experience and reminding me that God’s purpose has been, all along, to transform me through every circumstance. That is our hope and our promise. I’m looking forward to reading more from you, Tiffany!

    1. I’m so glad that your heart was met with words you needed, Christie. The transformation process can often be long, hard, and even painful, but God has such beautiful purpose in refining us. Some of my deepest hurts have birthed the greatest fruit in my life. I’m so glad you visited today, and you are always welcome here.

  13. This is beautiful! It sounds like God had us on the same wavelength this week. All about those triggers! I’m so thankful for a Father who loves us so intensely that His desire is to transform us from our past so we can live in the freedom of the present!

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