Leaving the Past Behind . . . 13 Years Later

Close to midnight, I was sitting on the floor of our little sitting room {a.k.a. the girls' room}, pawing through the last of three dusty under-the-bed plastic storage boxes, sifting through mounds of greeting cards, junky jewelry, ancient letters and clippings, disintegrating corsages, pictures of unknown folk, an ancestor's decomposing miniature suede-bound books, and all manner of forgotten keepsakes that begged to be dealt with once and for all.

Nestled in the jumble of fading memorabilia was a Focus on the Family magazine from February 2008 in which I contributed to a sidebar discussion, Leaving the Past Behind.  It was a nostalgic few minutes as I headed back down memory lane, scanning the once familiar words ... and realizing, wonder of wonders, that I'd most likely offer some of those same observations all these years later.  

Although the article was meant for those facing life on their own after divorce, choosing to redeem our losses is often a series of  seemingly endless choices ... whether they be hugely monumental or gently imperceptible, achingly heartbreaking or delightfully freeing.  

Maybe some of the words below will ring true for those of you who are struggling? 

"People sometimes remain in the past because they have no hope for the future," says Linda Stoll, a pastoral counselor and certified life coach.  "They continue looking at what's behind instead of focusing on what can be see out the big window right in front of them ... A person must decide to forge ahead toward healing," Stoll says.  "With the help of a well-trained counselor, discerning pastor, or recovery ministry, people can see the past for what it was, both good and bad, erase the old tapes that play in their heads and discover who they are in Christ."

The process of letting go often includes a special ritual ... this might include creating scrapbooks, memory boxes, and quilts.

"Putting these things together can be cathartic especially when done in community with others who are grieving a loss and attempting to understand it in a healthy context,' Stoll says.  "The planting of a tree {to mark your new life} or a donation to an organization that has special meaning can be beneficial.  One client I worked with sold the jewelry that her former husband had given to her and sent the money to a shelter for abused women.  

Making a choice to redeem our losses by choosing to bless others is a pivotal step in moving ahead."

We look backward so we get freed to look ahead.


BTW, Emily Freeman's recent podcast 162: Is it Time to Move On? is absolute must-listening!


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Jeanne  .  Richella  .  Lisa