By Ta-Ning Connai
We all have a past. Some are tainted by shattered dreams, lost love or unbearable regrets. Others have enough scandal, dirt and drama to beat EMPIRE in the ratings. Fortunately for me, I’m just glad I didn’t catch a case like Cookie or be left for dead like Lucious, ’cause that could’ve been me with my formerly crazy self! Whatever the case, the past can be haunting, with a grip that can cripple us and keep us from forging ahead.
Our minds have a way of reliving a matter over and over again until we manage to make it worse. Whether we’re beating ourselves up or making excuse after excuse, the overthinking never ends. All the “coulda woulda shoulda” in the world won’t change what was, nor should those words be allowed to contaminate the rest of your life. So when God comes to pull you out from the hold of yesteryear, do yourself a favor…Don’t Look Back.
Lot and his family had a chance to escape a city doomed for destruction (Genesis 19:15-26). Right before the fire and brimstone were about to fall, the Lord sent angels to guide them to a place of safety. “Run!” and “Don’t look back!” were the simple instructions given, yet for Lot’s wife it was evidently just too much to ask. Looking over her shoulder took her one step backward. And that one step backward was her last step ever. She allowed the familiarity of the past to forfeit her future, by mediating on the way things were just a little too long. For rejecting God’s grace and His gift of a second chance, she was turned into a pillar of salt.
Now, whether you take this as a true story like I do, or prefer to call it a myth, the moral remains the same. When God tries to move you forward by leaving your past behind, Don’t Look Back. When God invites you into a brand new future full of new ideas and new plans, Don’t Look Back. As we can see, a one minute pause can end up lasting forever. So do not hesitate and do not linger, unless you wanna stay stuck. I was once stuck for years…
A hot summer night in the 80’s, I was out joyriding with my criminal-minded boyfriend. That would have been bad enough, but I had the nerve to drag my lil’ brother Mark with us. See, I was on punishment AGAIN, but because my bestie was having a birthday party right across the street, moms said we could go.
Midnight was our curfew, but by 10 the party suddenly ended with a bang…a bang from a GUN! Frantically, everyone scattered like wild cattle and, one by one, we all made it back safe to my boyfriend’s car. Whew! You’d think we’d just go home early and be happy to be alive, but no, I had 2 more hours of freedom and I wasn’t about to waste one minute of it! So true when they say “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”! And it’s even worse when you have a bad influence you wanna impress. So, off we went to appease our boredom by being mean to innocent strangers. It was the joyride I’d live to regret.
There were only 3 simple steps to my induction into the Hall of Shame:
#1 Buy a 7-Eleven Big Gulp
#2 Speed wildly down a popular boulevard
#3 Throw drink out the back window into someone’s face
Yes, I did this. And in front of my little bro! Oh how could I???!!! Now, I could go on to explain the various things that led to my desperate need for acceptance, but I won’t because reasons are not excuses. I thought I’d feel great after proving I was so “cool,” but going to such drastic lengths to be someone I’m not proved to be so so wrong.
If only my cherry soaked casualty would’ve just flipped me off or cursed me out, I could’ve handled that. Anger, bring it on. But the pain in his eyes, it really had me shook.
I had never seen such an expression of vulnerable helplessness before. And when I looked to my boyfriend for a moment of collaborated remorse, all he did was laugh. Nothing funny about watching your victim take on shame and embarrassment for something they don’t deserve, but since I was the one who “pulled the trigger” so to speak, all I could really do was pretend it was alright. But it wasn’t alright, and neither was I for a very long time.
It would be DECADES before I could actually forgive myself. One day I just closed my eyes, pictured my victim’s face and asked Jesus to relieve him of any lingering trauma that I may have caused. I asked the Lord to touch his heart and supernaturally reveal to him my sorrow and regret. And since I really believed that God could do it, I’ve been at peace ever since. Won’t He do it!
God wants you to say farewell to all those skeletons in your closet. It’s time to close the door on all the crap that’s been wearing you down; that bad break up with what’s his name or your decision to drop out of school; maybe it’s the job you should’ve taken or the kids you had too soon, or didn’t have at all. Whatever your yesterdays, there’s a better tomorrow waiting for you. When you accept God’s Heavenly Do-Over, your bad choices become valuable lessons and your life gets filled with joy. All ya gotta do is let go of the past, forgive yourself, expect a better ending and PUH-LEEZ quit looking back!
“call” to leave the fab world of fashion behind. While in Bible College,
she discovered her knack for mixing her quirky style of writing with
her gift to teach. TA-NING’S TELL IT TUESDAY is a weekly
column (originally launched on Facebook) that uses doses of pop culture
to tear down the walls of churchy tradition, change the face of
Christianity, and present its message in a lively way. Ta-ning resides
in Santa Monica (by way of Brooklyn), is obsessed with dogs, and is an
old school Hip-Hop junkie!