Do you have someone in your life who brings up the past? It seems they always want to argue? And if a conversation begins well, it doesn’t take long before it becomes negative?
Usually, a disenchanted person injects the past into conversation. Engaging in conversation about the past with a person we’ve had a history of conflict, almost never ends well. It’s a sure trigger and communication stopper. It’s when angry diatribes begin. Listening to complaints about what we did, or they did for us and what we didn’t do for them, or what we said, etc.
Speaking of past things is often very personal, and usually involves people the closest to us- family. After all, they know us best. They’ve often witnessed or been affected by our shortcomings and failures. Intentional or not, their words about the past can cut us. Some people are so angry about past things, that they use the past like a knife yielding maniac. Sadly, some just won’t stop cutting, even after we’ve apologized.
If we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and ask Him to forgive our sin…it’s gone. Our sin is gone, it’s erased. Only Satan remembers our sin, and he uses it to shame us. Only the devil whispers failures in our ear. Only the devil uses people to bring up our past, to remind us of the very things the Lord no longer remembers.
I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. (Isaiah 43:25)
Not long ago, I had a conversation, again, with a very angry family member. It seems nothing I’ve ever done has been right, at least that’s how I felt after their angry words. Why did I put myself thru it? I listened hoping to reach them. I hoped my contrite and humble heart would persuade them to let go of past things.
The conversation with the family member began well, but as I suspected, it didn’t take long for them to bring up the past. I tired quickly of hearing the same conversation again, that we’d had before. I couldn’t take hearing about the past any longer. My self-inflicted wounds which had healed with Jesus forgiveness and assurance, were now opened again by this family member’s words.
Finally, I, an imperfect person and faulty Christian, lost my patience. I told the family member that they weren’t God. That Jesus Christ had forgiven my sin and only Satan brings up our past. I told them they were welcome to come to my home anytime but to leave the past outside. True words, but my faulty part is that I told them these things, after I reminded them of their past.
Little good comes from repeated conversations about the past with someone who prefers to live in the past. Don’t be drawn into their drama.
For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. Proverbs 4:16.
I’ve had sleepless nights, not plotting revenge, but digesting drama. Trying to sort it all out, examining my role. If we stay in the Word, and allow our hearts to be soft, we give our concerns to God. We must keep our eyes on the Lord. It’s then we find peace and are able to acknowledge- it’s their drama, their problem not ours. The battle of an angry person is not with us, but themselves.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:7-8
We, faulty Christians, desire to walk with Jesus in His perfect place. Daily, when Satan attacks with negative thoughts, I refuse to listen, I won’t go there. I remind myself that we are to “think on things which are lovely.”
Certainly, we don’t endorse passive aggressive behavior in which a person uses silence as a weapon or means of punishment. But some people, even Christians, do not recognize they do the devil's work when they won’t let go of the past. By not letting go of the past, they’ve not learned to forgive. If we can’t forgive others, how can we forgive ourselves?
It’s been a long journey, dealing with shame, forgiving myself and accepting God’s grace. Still, I’m not perfect nor ever will be, and old wounds can easily be reopened. I refuse to allow anyone to visit my past, in my presence, anymore. Revisiting past sin is to ignore God’s Word, His promises.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
I forgive my family member who is constantly angry and hurting me. I love them. I refuse to enable their bitterness and unforgiving torment. Gone is the past. I’m the new, yet, still faulty Christian whose sin has been erased by our loving God.