“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” ~Anatole France
The challenge is to let go of our past in order to make space in our hearts for love today. If our past is the sum total of who we are today, how can we hold onto the good, but let go of the bad in order to make space for more good? How can we forgive the past hurts, heartbreaks, disappointments, betrayals and lies?
Letting go is difficult because we often define and identify ourselves by our pain. Holding on to anger can come to be a comfort blanket, as is the role of being the victim or the wronged. But those painful memories take up space…space that isn’t doing a damn bit of good for us…space that keeps all the good stuff like joy and love at bay.
A helpful analogy I read was that moving on in life is like stepping through a door and firmly but gently closing it behind you…no slamming. It’s a nice vision of moving forward without lingering anger and free of past pains. It doesn’t mean forgetting the past, but instead forgiving it and deciding to live in the now instead of in the past.
Clinging to past pain also causes our bodies pain. The stress and anxiety take a toll on our immune systems and getting sick becomes more routine than it should. It also causes us to age faster – both inside and outside. There’s nothing helpful or healthy about choosing to feel hurt today because of our past. And believe it or not, but it is a choice. We can choose to put the draining cycle of anger and hurt behind that closed door, and stop missing out on the beauty of life as it happens.
It’s essential that we learn to forgive so we can move on. Forgiveness isn’t for the other person’s edification, it’s for yours. It’s not forgetting, but it’s letting go. Forgiveness allows you to release the chains of resentment you’ve bound between yourself and the memory. Forgiveness closes the door gently but firmly, and allows you to face the light of your tomorrow.
We are who we are today because of the trials of our past, but we don’t have to let them dictate any further than that. I am grateful for the hard lessons I’ve endured because they have made me a stronger person today. I smile back at all the good times – I will cherish those forever – and I walk firmly on and away from the painful past.