Don’t Let Your Past Define You

How many thoughts do you have about yourself? And of those, how many are negative?

It wasn’t until I was suffering from soul-crushing anxiety and felt depleted of all motivation that I started giving my thought-life some…well…thought.Don't let your past define you

Who says my creative efforts are not good enough?

Who says I’m a major disappointment?

Who tells me that I can never change?

Or says I will certainly fail if I try?

Who believes that I am broken?

I do.

It’s me. My thoughts are to blame.

“For as a man thinks within himself, so he is.” Proverbs 23:7

Whether you realize it or not, your past experiences, other people and your own failures have shaped your thought-life.

The Bible makes it abundantly clear that the way you think about yourself will influence how you view yourself. And how you view yourself will determine your actions, reactions, and habits.

Dave Sumrall sums it up best:

“Your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts.”

Sadly, our strongest thoughts often come from the times we’ve been wounded most. We continue to allow past hurts and failures influence our thoughts about ourselves, life and relationships. Even when those experiences are long gone, our thought-life is still full of residual hurt, blame, shame and insecurity.

“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it?” Isaiah 43:18-19

How often do I find myself calling to mind the things of the past? Or thinking about past hurts, regrets and mistakes?

How often do these thoughts produce doubt and insecurity in me? Or convince me that I cannot change?

But the breakthrough will not come through loving myself more. Freedom isn’t found in forgiving myself (which isn’t actually a thing). New beginnings are not wrapped up in positive thinking or a higher self-esteem; an endless cycle void of any life-changing power.

There is only one person who can free me from my past, renew my mind and give me hope for the future. And it’s not me.

It’s Jesus.

The power to change my life is found in a Person, not a set of principles (Sumrall, Dave).

Because of Jesus, we are no longer chained to our past. God is doing something new. He did an entirely new thing with the Gospel and is doing something new in us too.

As believers, we now have His Spirit living inside of us, giving us the power to change and be more like Jesus. “For I am confident that God, who began a good work within you will continue His work until it is finished…” (Phil 1:6).

If God is continuing to do a new thing in me, than my past mistakes, regrets, and habits can no longer hold power over me.

The only person who can tie me down to the past is me.

We must stop allowing the past – and those associated negative thoughts – to define us. I need to stop allowing my thoughts about who I am – that are based in the past – dictate who I am today.

How do I do this?

“Finally, think on what is true…” (Phil 4:8)

It’s a choice. And it’s yours.

You, and only you, decide who you become. Not your past. Not what others think or say. Not your pain, inconsistent emotions, or even the negative thoughts that overwhelm you.

Jesus provides us with the power to choose. Through Him, we actually possess the ability and power to determine what kind of thoughts we will allow in our thought-life.

Thinking on what is true will actually renew my perspective and completely transform my thought patterns. When I establish the habit of allowing only what is true to linger in my mind, it will actually give my brain a reset.

If I have the ability to control my thoughts, then I have the ability to change my life.

God only asks us to live one day at a time. It starts with small changes each day. He doesn’t burden us with the past or overwhelm us with the future. Jesus made this clear when He said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34).

So don’t worry about your future. And don’t be defined by your past.

Simply live today. Decide who you want to be and how you want to live. Think on what is true and don’t let those outdated thoughts from your past define you.

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