Letting Go of the Past & Moving Forward: Story of 3 Women

The most fatal blow to success is being stuck in the past. It prohibits you from moving forward and even if you do make a little headway, it foists limitations upon you. I am going to use three women from the bible to illustrate how important it is to let go of the past. Two sisters-in-law had similar experiences but very different reactions.

3 Signs That Say You Are Stuck

1. You are indecisive: indecision puts you into pause mode and can halt, delay or deny opportunities that must be grasped in the present. You may very well know the story in the book of Ruth of the matriarch, Naomi, who left Bethlehem with her husband and two sons to go to Moab, where there could start life over. While there, the sons took on Moabite wives. One son married a woman named Ruth and the other, Orpah. But life happened. Life will happen to all of us but we just have to make up our minds to deal with it. We will only get over and beyond whatever happened if we simply make a decision. The story continues that Naomi lost her husband and both younger women lost their husbands. How were they now going to fend for themselves as three lone women. Life had gotten hard in Moab but while Naomi was in the fields she heard that Bethlehem was revived and decided to return to her homeland. Both daughters-in-law thought of following her. She presented her best arguments for why they should remain in Moab. Orpah pressed that she would follow Naomi but was finally overwhelmed by the older woman’s prodding. With no husband and no prospects of a new one, she decided to stay with what was familiar. Doesn’t that sound like some of us? Don’t we sometimes rehash the past and try to make ourselves comfortable there? Whether it is the familiarity of the past or the pain of the past, we cannot tether ourselves there. Make the decision to move on and stick with it.

2. You Make Excuses: “Oh, I can’t do this because I have never done it before.” Or “This is too hard for me.” Excuses are the kryptonite of successfully being able to move forward. They keep you stationary. The reasons you give may seem as legitimate reasons why you cannot or should not move forward. They may even be true but they are excuses nonetheless. When God called Moses to move forward with the Children of Israel from Egypt, Moses had a Myriad of excuses. They were true but they were excuses nonetheless. “God, I am wanted in Egypt for murder. I can’t go back there.” And God said, “Okay, I will give you signs to show I am with you.” Moses’ other excuse was, “God, I am slow of speech; I stutter.” And God says, “That is okay, I made the mouth and I will fill yours with what to say.” Moses still tried to wiggle his way out of moving forward with another excuse, “God I am a man of eighty years. I am too old.” But God would have none of it. The reasons or excuses you find to stop yourself do not mean you are incapable.

3. Blame:Yes, when we are stuck in the past our tendency is to find other persons and things from our past to blame. Sure. There are some experiences that may instill fear in us and others may have played a part in that. So we might have been hurt before in relationships; be those platonic, romantic or professional. Accept that whatever happened, did happen and the role that you played in it and move on. Whatever it is we think is reasonable for where we are at in life or why we are the way we are, are all in the past and there is nothing that we can do to change it. Okay, so this person did you this and that person did you that why this happened… What are you going to do about it? Blame gets us nowhere but keeps us stuck. It prevents us from doing proper self-analysis. When we are too busy looking trying to situate responsibility outside of ourselves, our own shortcomings become invisible to us. This may take us into cyclical behaviour. By that I mean going around in circles. The Children of Israel should know a thing or two about this. Whenever, things did not go their way, they blamed Moses for having taken them from Egypt to die in the wilderness. And many of them did die there because they could not see that their stubbornness was why God kept them going around in circles.

You may ask, “So what do I do when I realise that I am stuck in the past? How do I move forward?” Moving forward is not always easy. In fact it is a very courageous feat.

How do I move Forward:

1. Forgive: forgiveness is part of moving forward. Forgive yourself and others of mistakes made. Forgiveness is freeing. It is the motivation for forward mobility. In fact, when one has forgiven, he or she has already begun moving forward.

2. Have a Vision:a vision is a forecast of where it is you want to go beyond today. A vision is like a map. It tells you where it is that you are going. Certainly, if one is to move forward, one must know the destination. Let the vision be clear and bold. Everything that you do from henceforth is to fulfil the vision.

3. Be decisive: you must make a decision and stick with it. Unlike Orpah, Ruth made the decision to go to Bethlehem with Naomi and there she found her Boaz, one who would move her from being a widow without prospects of a protective husband to having one.

4. Stay focused: there will be many things to distract you as you move forward: fear, memories from the past, self-doubt, criticisms, failure or difficulty. Whatever it is that comes to distract, stay focused on the vision.

5. Find support: we cannot do this alone. We need support. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Like Naomi helped Ruth in her journey, there are people in our own lives who are wiser than we are and can help us move forward.

Questions to ask yourself: self check (Answer honestly)

1. Do I always seem to find a reason not to do something I have always wanted to do?
2. Are there people from my past that I still feel resentment towards when I see them?
3. Do I take responsibility for my actions?
4. What is it that I really want to do with my life and how do I get there?
5. Do the people around me motivate me towards my goals?
6. Have I done my best?

These questions help us to self-assess and to move forward in life with relative ease.

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