“9 Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool. 10 Don’t long for “the good old days.” This is not wise. 11 Wisdom is even better when you have money. Both are a benefit as you go through life. 12 Wisdom and money can get you almost anything, but only wisdom can save your life.”
Angela was mandated by the courts to enter an anger management program. She physically assaulted her husband in a domestic dispute, and the incident resulted in her being taken away in handcuffs by the authorities. She received a restraining order with no contact with her husband. At the time, she thought this was one of his sneakiest and most damaging manipulations. He would never entertain physical violence, although had he chosen, he might have easily overpowered her physically. A very intelligent man, Angela’s husband was masterful with mental and emotional manipulation. He held a grudge and wanted to put Angela in her place. When she slapped him because of his affair, he called the police.
It was one of the lowest points in Angela’s life. She knew better and was embarrassed and ashamed. She also thought that he should have been the one in anger management, but she discovered a lot about herself in these mandated classes. Self-discipline and patience are required for Godly living and learning to control outbursts of anger can go a long way towards our own personal healing and spiritual growth. Angela learned to let go of old negative patterns, and to stop looking back to the past and allowing it to define her present and future reality.
Many people look back at their lives and think about the good old days, before they faced adversity and before they made catastrophic mistakes. We don’t think about the reality that God covered us in a tremendous amount of grace, because even in the good old days, we had behaviors and attitudes that might have created the environment for the adversities and mistakes we later encountered.
We want to go back to those good old days, but the truth is that we can’t bring anything from our past into the present and future, and if we try, we’ll be stuck, and this isn’t what God wants. Ecclesiastes 7:10(NLT) tells us, “Don’t long for “the good old days.” This is not wise.” With this wisdom, our Heavenly Father is warning us about our attitude towards His goodness and grace. When we put God first in all we do, and we seek Him first before any other person or thing, He will reward us. There isn’t anything better than living in Christ. With him, life gets better and better, from faith to greater faith. Our attitude of gratitude must indicate we understand this.
The reality of where He has brought us and what He has brought us through is greater than anything in our pasts. The events and situations of the past will never be again. This is a very challenging truth for humans to accept but accept it we must if fulfillment and joy in life are our goals. We must stop ourselves from focusing on the past, because it slows us down, and it can keep us from moving forward.
In the Book of Genesis, we learn about the record of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. He and his family moved to Sodom and Gomorrah, and this was a dastardly wicked place. So much so, that the Lord destroyed it, but God spared Lot, because this was Abraham’s request. An angel of the Lord had given Lot and his family firm instructions and told them that as they escaped, they were not to look back. Lot’s wife didn’t follow this instruction. Genesis 19:26(ESV) states, “But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”
Some say she met with such a tragic end because of her disobedience, but we can’t stop there. The directive from the angel was purposeful. Looking back is often a signal that we’re not prepared to embrace the newness ahead. Looking back demonstrates that our hearts are clinging to what has passed. It means we’re stuck, and sometimes tragically so, like a pillar of salt.
The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13(NLT), “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” This is the mentality and attitude we must have as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. God doesn’t want the problems, regrets, and situations of the past to keep us stuck in things like anger, shame, and resentment. When we are stuck and haven’t healed to the point where the past no longer impedes us, we might bring bad habits and behaviors of the past into the new life that Christ has made available to us. This is what Angela did.
She was emotionally and mentally exhausted. She was spiritually malnourished, and her faith in God was not where it is today. Angela was shocked at her actions, but when there’s deep and unresolved anger, the only solution is to allow the love of God in those deep places. There was no excuse for Angela’s use of physical violence. She knows now that her husband’s infidelity and disregard triggered a level of anger that she had seen playout in her own parent’s marriage. She needed to break this cycle through the love of God in Christ.
We might fantasize about what it would have been like to not have the pain and heartache we’ve experienced, but this doesn’t alter the reality of our past. We can’t change our pasts. They are gone forever. We can only change our right now so that our futures look brighter and clearer with the help of the love of Christ.
When we know better, we have the tools to do and live better. We need to know that it’s not only possible to leave the past behind, God requires it. He has given us a new life in Jesus Christ, and this means we have a new nature of love within. God will not force us to choose His love. He will not force us to leave rage, anger, resentment, and hurt in the past, and embrace the love of Christ which makes us stronger. But He wants us to know that He created us out of His love to live in His love. He created us to walk in the light and liberty of Christ. If we will humble ourselves before Him and trust in His love, He will help us to transform from the inside out. We’ll get to a place where the mistakes of the past will pale in comparison to the person we’ve become through His love. ■
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
“Leaving the Past Behind” written for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2022. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!