Your Past Does Not Define You: 5 Simple Ways to Thrive

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Do you feel bogged down by the past unable to move towards a brighter future? Maybe you’re wondering how not to let your past define your future.

I don’t know what lies the enemy is telling you today, friend but I want to remind you that your past does not define your future. You are defined by what God says about you and how you respond to that truth.

Your Past Does Not Define You Meaning

It’s all well and good to claim that your past doesn’t define you, but what does that really mean? How does that play pit in daily living?

We all make mistakes or do things we wish we hadn’t done. And sometimes,  those things have lasting consequences.  Even worse, they tend to live in people’s memories forever.

It may seem as if no matter what you do or how you try to act in  the exact opposite way, there’s someone who wants to remind you of that thing. If it’s not someone who knows about your past, it’s the devil whispering in your ear, what’s a girl to do?

The best thing you can do is to remind yourself that your past does not define you. The things you did in the past, are what you used to do.  They are not who you are now.

What do you talk about most often? What's the one thing you would change if you could? It may be impacting your future. #hebrews12endurance Click To Tweet

Your Past Is Not Your Future

One of the best examples of someone who put their past behind them is Rahab. The Bible calls her “Rahab the harlot” so I can only imagine what other people said about her.

Yet, Rahab is listed in the Faith Hall of Fame (Hebrews 11:31) right alongside patriarchs like Abraham, Moses, and Isaac.  Not only is Rahab listed among the faithful, she’s one of five women listed in the genealogy of Jesus (Mathew 1:5).

Like Rahab, you don’t have to let your past define you. You can choose not to have the negative things in your past dictate your future. The ability to change your response to the trajectory your past has you on, lies in your ability to choose.

5 Tips to Not Let Your Past Define You

Your Past Does Not Define You
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I know what you’re thinking, how do you not let your past affect your future?

1. Capture your thoughts.  First, let me say this is going to be hard work. The brain likes to automate things and so you may find yourself repeating the same lies you had been told or had told yourself. You may find yourself reliving the past over and over again.

But God knew we would have this problem, that’s why 2 Corinthians 10:5 says we need to capture every thought.  Our thoughts, the things we meditate on, have the power to impact our behavior.

Make it a habit to be aware of your thoughts and be ready to redirect them when they become negative.

2. Think about the person you want to be. When you accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, you became the daughter of a King. Spend some time thinking about  how the daughter of a King should or would behave and begin to model that behavior.

Keep a list of the attributes of a princess and review them often. Get these qualities in your head so you can remind yourself to act like a princess when things get hard (kind of like Sara Crew did in The Little Princess).

3. Meditate on positive things. When I put make the decision to stop ruminating on the negative, you must spend that time thinking about positive things.

Your mind will wander, that’s what it does. But you can retrain it to think about positive things when it would want to dwell in the negative.

4. Become deaf to naysayers. There will always be people to remind you about your past, or who want to entice you back into that lifestyle, at least in the beginning. There will be people who will tell you point-blank that you will not and cannot change.

Do not listen to them. The enemy uses these people to trap you into behavior that is not pleasing to God. But you have a choice to refuse to listen to them.

5. Surround yourself with positive people. If you’re going to change the way your past affects your future, you may need to distance yourself from some people.

Replace naysayers with persons who are striving for greater. Replace negative people with positive role models–people who know the power of the Holy Spirit and are willing to rely on His power.

The Words Between Us Review

The Words Between Us blends the past and the future into a seamless blend so that it’s sometimes difficult to separate the two. We quickly realize that Robin is unable to enjoy the present because she is so firmly entrenched in the past. In that way, she’s just like us.

Know God: There was only a very faint thread of Christianity in this book and it was in a secondary character, Dawt Ti. Robin–who was the highlight of the book–admitted to only going to church on special occasions. She didn’t seem to believe in God and it showed.

Where Christians have the comfort of Romans 8:28 (even if we can’t quite believe how it could be true), Robin had nothing.

She reminds us that if the only thing we can put our faith in is people, we are bound to be disappointed because people are imperfect and they make mistakes. 

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Know yourself: Robin defined herself by the mistakes her parents had made in the past. She built walls around herself because she was afraid to let anyone in. She couldn’t see that the mistakes of her parents’ past did not have to define her future.

Instead, she tried to distance herself from everything connected with them and lost herself in the process.

Run your race: We can’t live someone else’s life, we can only live our own. Robin spent so much time blaming her parents for their actions she never took the chance to figure out what her life could be like without them.

The Words Between Us is a tale about the impact of written words. Authors can sometimes feel as if the words they write don’t matter–especially if they are receiving the exposure they expected or desired. But they do.

Our words are an opportunity to show others they are not alone–the thing they’re going through (which feels hard and painful)  is not unique to them. Others have experienced it and survived.

Even if you never write a single word, your words matter so choose them wisely. Because you have the chance to impact someone’s life either positively or negatively.

Your words matter so choose them wisely. Because you have the chance to impact someone's life either positively or negatively. #wordsmatter #hebrews12endurance #thewordsbetweenus Click To Tweet

The Words Between Us: Your Past Is Not Your Future

There’s a lesson for us in The Words Between Us. Like Robin, we can get wrapped up in the past. We can live there in memories and words. We can allow it to seep into our present until it leeches all the color out.

I’m not telling you to forget the past–don’t disregard the hard things you’ve experienced because they were hard. But don’t forget the lessons either.

The enemy wants you to be so focused on the bad things that happened in your past that you cannot move on. But my friend, you are not your past and your past is not your future. God has given you everything you need to turn those horrible memories into a testimony.

Look, I know it’s hard. I know it’s easier to replay your bad memories or bury them in the deepest part of your mind, but that’s not what God wants.

We can get wrapped up in the past. We can live there in memories and words. We can allow it to seep into our present until it leeches all the color out. #bepresent #hebrews12endurance Click To Tweet

Bad things happen because of sin, but God wants us to know He is always there for us. He did not leave us when the bad thing was happening and He won’t leave us now.

While our past experiences shape who we are, they are not the defining factor. We have the choice to use our past to create a brighter future than maybe our past indicates. But we can only do that through Christ.

I received a copy of The Words Between Us as part of the Revell Reads Blogger program; a positive review was not required.

About The Words Between Us

The Words Between Us

Robin Windsor spent most of her life under an assumed name because her parents had made some bad decisions which messed her life up. But for one summer, she had a moment of peace when she met Peter Flynt. The two share a love of books and the words fly between them.

But because life–and books–aren’t fair, Robin’s perfect summer is ruined by a ginormous even and she spends the rest of her life running from her parents’ mistakes and the impact they had on her life

She finds sanctuary in her rather unremarkable used bookstore just up the street from the marina in River City, Michigan. But the store is struggling and the past will not stay in the past.

She receives an eerily familiar book in the mail on the morning of her father’s scheduled execution and is thrown back to the long-lost summer she met Peter Flynt, the perfect boy who ruined everything.

About Erin Bartels

Erin Bartel

Erin Bartels is the author of We Hope For Better Things and The Words Between Us. She lives in the beautiful, water-defined state of Michigan where she is never more than a ninety-minute drive from one of the Great Lakes or six miles from an inland lake, river, or stream.

She grew up in the Bay City area waiting for freighters and sailboats at drawbridges and watching the best 4th of July fireworks displays in the nation. She spent her college and young married years in Grand Rapids feeling decidedly not-Dutch.

She currently lives with her husband and son in Lansing, nestled somewhere between angry protesters on the Capitol lawn and couch-burning frat boys at Michigan State University. And yet, she claims it is really quite peaceful.

Erin is represented by Nephele Tempest of The Knight Agency. Find her on Facebook @ErinBartelsAuthor, on Twitter @ErinLBartels, or on Instagram @erinbartelswrites.

You’re Not Defined by Your Past

Do your past mistakes define you? Seek the truth of God’s Word. You are who God says you are and once you have repented and asked foe forgiveness, God wipes the slate clean and remembers your sin no more (Isaiah 43:25).

My friend, do not let your past define you any more. Step out of the darkness and into God’s marvelous light.

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