10 Practical Steps to Forget the Past

woman walking on ledge trying to forget her past

Are you defined by your past? Do you find yourself doing things you know are because of something that happened in the past? You may need to forget the past.

Oh, I can hear all your concerns,

  • What does it mean to forget the past?
  • Is it possible to forget the past?
  • Is forgetting the past good?

I hear you, and I hope at the end of this article you’ll have all the answers you need. Forgetting the past may not seem possible for you, but in some cases it’s necessary if you’re going to be able to step into the identity God wants you to inhabit.

What Does It Mean to Forget the Past?

Is forgetting the past really necessary? Is it even possible to forget our pasts? We are the sum of our experiences–good, bad, and indifferent, so under what circumstances should we strive to forget the past?

10 Practical Steps to Forget the Past
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Before we get into that, let me explain what I mean about forgetting the past. Depending on how good your memory is, forgetting the past may not be possible, especially if the event was significant.

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The truth is, some of the more significant events in our past are harmful ones. They may involve abuse, pain, neglect or other things we truly wish we had never experienced. As a result of our experiences, we may become distrustful, standoffish, or hurtful in turn.

If we are going to move beyond the pain, we may need to learn to forget the past.  Please do not take the information in this article as a substitute for professional help. There are some cases where professional help is required. Seek help from a reputable professional where necessary.

That being said, I’m suggesting that sometimes we need to employ the kind of forgetfulness God does when it comes to our forgiven sin. We know that God doesn’t forget anything, but when we repent and ask for forgiveness, He chooses to treat us as if we had never sinned.

In order to move forward, we need to make peace with the past so it doesn’t affect our futures negatively.

10 Tips to Make Peace with Your Past Biblically

1. Admit that the pain exists. A very common reaction to pain is to pretend it doesn’t exist. We bury our heads in the proverbial sand like an ostrich in an attempt to get past the thing that has wounded us. But a covered wound doesn’t heal, it festers.

If we are to make any progress on forgetting the past, we have to admit that the pain exists. Admitting the pain gives us room to seek help for it.

2. Give expression to your pain. This step may seem very similiar to the previous step, but it’s not the same. After admitting that your pain exists, it needs a safe outlet for expression. The last thing you want to do is hurt someone because you don’t know what to do with your pain.

Journaling, exercise, art, and other creative pursuits have long been touted as great ways to give expression to your pain. Find a creative outlet, don’t let your pain consume you.

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3. Get support or professional help where necessary. Sometimes the trauma of our past require professional help. Seek reputable counselors who can guide you in ways that align with the Bible and what God says about you.

4. Capture your thoughts. We have a lot of random, negative thoughts on a daily basis. You probably already know that. But what you may not realize is how often you have the same random, negative thoughts.

If you were to pay attention to what you think about every day, you may be surprised about how often the same thought wanders through your mind. What’s worse is that it often conjures up the same emotions every time.

Maybe that’s why the apostle Paul said we should capture every thought and subject them to the law of Christ.

I encourage you to pay attention to your thoughts, but not in a nonchalant kind of way. Put every thought through the Philippians 4:8 test. Ask yourself, is the thought:

  • True?
  • Noble?
  • Pure?
  • Right?
  • Lovely?
  • Excellent?
  • Praiseworthy?

If it meets the criteria, great. If it doesn’t, hold it up to the Word of God. What lie does it hold hidden and how can you banish that lie with Truth.

5. Identify where you may be allowing past scripts to direct your present. Just like our thoughts, our behavior tends to follow a pattern. One incentive for forgetting the past is that old ways of thinking and responding tend to affect your present.

Examine your behavior and try to figure out if you’re responding from a place of pain–old pain.

6. Forgive yourself and any others involved. Is there someone from your past that you need to forgive for something? Do you need to forgive yourself? You’ve probably heard it before, but unforgiveness only hurts you. Many times the person we haven’t forgiven isn’t aware of how we feel about them or they don’t care.

Do the work needed to forgive them, and yourself, so you can get on with the business of forgetting the past.

7. Look for God’s fingerprint. One of the lies the enemy uses with people over and over again is that God has abandoned or forgotten us. I know. It’s a lie he’s told me many times and I’m sure he’s told you the same. But we don’t have to believe him.

Instead, we can choose to look for God’s hand in our story. I’m sure when you look at what you’ve been through you’ll see God protecting you, caring for, and sending people who can do the same.

8. Identify the dominant lie. Is there something connected to your past pain that you tell yourself often? Is it true? When I ask that question, what I really want you to think about, is if it’s true as God says it is?

Many times we believe a lie from our past that permeates every area of our lives…even our relationship with God. Spend some time in prayer and ask God to reveal this dominant lie that you believe so you can put it behind you.

9. Replace the lie with truth. Okay, so now you’ve figured out the lie (or lies) that you believe. It’s time to for you to replace the lies of the enemy with the truth of your Heavenly Father.

Do a Bible study on what God says about you and begin to replace the lies of the enemy with truth.

10. Reinforce your future identity with Scripture. Final step, are you ready? You’ve dealt with the pain of your past. You’ve identified the lies that want to destroy your present. Now you need to safeguard the future.

The enemy is good at reminding us of our past mistakes as if they are still happening. We will not let him continue to do that. Let us reinforce our identity in Christ by focusing on the people we want to become.

Let me explain what I mean. Galatians 5 talks about the difference between living in the spirit and living in the flesh. Paul lists a number of things that are experienced by people who live in the flesh: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, and so on (Galatians 5:19-21).

But he also talked about the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Galatians 5:22-22).

As we begin to focus on embodying our identities in Christ, let us focus on our future selves. Pray for the fruit of the Spirit. Ask God to imbue you with the Holy Spirit and live out His life through you. Find Scriptures that empower you to overcome the fears and challenges of your past.

You Are Not Your Past

You may have done something you wish you could completely obliterate from your past. Or worse, something had been done to you that changed the way you see yourself and have colored all of your choices since. As I read You Belong with Me by Tari Faris, a lesson came crashing home that I want to share with you: you are not your past. Forgetting your past may be the key to embracing your identity in Christ.

I know those are hard words to get inside your heart because the enemy likes to remind us of the things we want to forget. He likes to tell us that we’re not good enough or that we’ll never get over that thing we want to forget. But he lies.

He was a liar from the beginning and he’s lying now.

You are not your past. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, He takes us and washes all the gunk away and makes us clean. #hebrews12endurance #redeemed Click To Tweet

When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, He takes us and washes all the gunk away and makes us clean. Then He covers us in righteous robes and we are made new. We can walk away from our past mistakes because we are not our past.

You Belong With Me Review

Hannah is a realtor who can’t sell houses. She spends much of her time convincing people not to sell their homes or trying to convince buyers they can only buy a property if they plan to keep it as is. She’s a little obsessed with preserving the history and keeping things exactly as they are—or as they were.

Luke, who is an orphan, never felt at home in Heritage. He is restoring the house he grew up in which he has on a rent-to-own contract. He struggles to find his place in Heritage and probably would have left a long time ago if not for Hannah.

Know God: Most of the characters in Heritage struggled in their relationship with God. They knew who He was but because life hadn’t turned out as they hoped they weren’t sure what God wanted from them of what to do next.

They had to learn that in spite of the circumstances, God is still God. He is ultimately in control and they had to learn to trust Him.

Know yourself: Both Hannah and Luke had an image of who they were based on the circumstances of their past. As a foster child, Luke longed for a place to belong and saw all his interactions with people and all his relationships through that lens.

Not until he started to see himself as adopted by God did he start to become truly self-aware.

When you accept Christ, you are grafted into the family of God and become His child. #redeemed #hebrews12endurance Click To Tweet

Hannah used her mother’s actions as a guide for everything she did in her own life. She was so desperate not to be classed in the same light as her mother that she held too tightly to the things of her past. She was so concerned with preserving history she couldn’t learn that sometimes you have to let things go. She had to make a choice to forget the past.

None of the characters of Heritage were able to truly see themselves until they started to look through God’s eyes. Like us, they have to learn that our true identity is based on who we are in Christ.

Run your race: For much of the book, Hannah tried to control the circumstances of her life. This sometimes meant that she had to manipulate things (and people) to get what she believed was the desired result. But she eventually learned that everyone had to make their own decisions.

Everyone had their own life to live but because she was so concerned with being in control of everything, she was not really running the race set before her.

Luke also had to realize that wishing for something does not make it true. Yes, he had wanted someone to adopt him when he was a child but that hadn’t happened and he needed to move past it.

This review focused mainly on Hannah and Luke’s story but there are other elements and sub-characters in Heritage to fall in love with. Personally, I didn’t like Hannah’s character because I felt she didn’t always respect Luke’s perspective. She knew he would do what she wanted and she often took advantage of that. She also seemed to run roughshod over other people’s opinions.

Still, her behavior was understandable because the author made it clear it was because of her past that she held so tightly to everything and everyone she loved.

Read my full review of #YouBelongWithMe by @FarisTari. #hebrews12endurance  #RevellReads #TariFaris @Revellbooks #amreading Click To Tweet

I enjoyed meeting the characters of Heritage. Some of them were the neighbors you wished you didn’t have, while there were others you would have liked to sit down and have a conversation with. I received a review copy of You Belong With Me as part of the Revell Book Bloggers program; a positive review was not required.

You Belong with Me Description

You Belong With Me by Tari Faris

Realtor Hannah Thornton has many talents. Unfortunately, selling houses in the town where her family name is practically poison isn’t one of them.

When a business tycoon determines to raze historic homes in the small town of Heritage, Michigan, and replace them with a strip mall, Hannah resolves to stop him.

She sets about helping Heritage win a restoration grant that will put the town back on the map–and hopefully finally repay the financial debt Hannah’s mother caused the town. But at first, no one supports her efforts–not even her best friend, Luke.

Luke Johnson may have grown up in Heritage, but as a foster kid he never truly felt as if he belonged. Now he has a chance to score a job as an assistant fire chief and earn his place in the town.

But when the interview process and Hannah’s restoration project start unearthing things from his past, Luke must decide if belonging is worth the pain of being honest about who he is–and who he was.

Hannah is a realtor who can’t sell houses. She spends much of her time convincing people not to sell their homes or trying to convince buyers they can only buy a property if they plan to keep it as is. She’s a little obsessed with preserving history and keeping things exactly as they are—or as they were.

 About Tari Faris

Tari Faris

I have been writing fiction for more than twelve years. It has been an exciting journey for this math-loving-dyslexic girl. I had read less than a handful of novels by the time I graduated from college and I thought I would end up in the field of science or math. But God had other plans and I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything. As someone told me once, God’s plans may not be easy, and they may not always make sense but they are never boring.

When I am not writing or working, I spend time with my amazing husband. We have been married for fifteen wonderful years and have three sweet children. In my free time, I love coffee, rockhounding with my husband and kids, and distracting myself from housework.

I love to hear from readers. You can connect with me on my website at www.tarifaris.com

Your Past Is Not Your Future

This is another lie the enemy wants us to believe: our future will look exactly like our past. Oh, sweet friend, that’s only true if you listen to Him. But I encourage you, don’t fall for the devil’s lies. Don’t let him tell you the dark plans he has for you.

Choose instead to listen to your Heavenly Father and root your identity in Him.

The things you did, don’t define who you are. You don’t have to keep doing that thing if you don’t want to. If you ask, God will give you the victory over the sin that keeps dragging you under.

I know it’s hard to believe because sometimes I struggle with it myself, but things won’t always be as dismal as they look now.

But if you’re going to get to the future God has in store for you, you’re going to have to stop doing the devil’s work for him. You’re going to have to remember: you are not your past and your past is not your future.

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