Letting Go of the Past

The decision to de-clutter proved more gut-wrenching than Van Cliburn expected.

Last week, the pianist worked with Christie’s in New York to spring clean and auction off  almost 200 items he collected from his travels and illustrious musical career. Van Cliburn decided to let go of the past. Yet, he admitted pulling “… more than a few pieces back from the brink of new ownership.” Mementoes he couldn’t bear to part with in the end.

I know Van Cliburn’s pain. How many times have I decided to let go of the past only to rummage through the discards and reclaim them? How often have I stuffed my attic and closets with possessions, some of which I store just in case I want to use them again. Or filled walls and corners of my home with past purchases and memories of another time? Mementoes I can’t bear to turn loose.

Holding onto the past can also be about more than preserving material things. Sometimes I cling to the “good ole days” that I wish for and try to recreate. Or I slip back into bad habits that are more comfortable than good habits. Or I harbor hurt feelings that fester my self-righteous anger over past slights and rejection. Baggage I carry around and which so burdens me that I can’t add new experiences or relationships God wants to give me.

Yet, isn’t some past worth saving? After the Israelite nation crossed the Jordan River on dry ground, the LORD commanded Joshua, “Choose twelve men …, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan … and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight (Joshua 4:2-3, NIV).  The stones memorialized for current and future generations the miracles God performed for His people.

Those kinds of mementoes are worth keeping. They have a story behind them. They bring to mind a special time or season when God helped me cross a Jordan on dry ground.

The key is knowing the difference. Knowing when to let go and when to hold on. When to throw the past away and when to keep it because it triggers the memory of God at work.

So, it’s May and time for spring cleaning. It’s time to let go of some more past. Time to make room for the new things God has in store.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.                                                                   See I am doing a new thing!                                                                                                           Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?                                                                                       I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV)

©2012 Gloria Ashby. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail.

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About Gloria Ashby

I'm a writer, speaker and teacher. I live with my husband in the DFW area, and close to our daughter and her family.
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