“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”

Isaiah  43:18-19

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Isaiah  43:18-19

One of the hardest things for us to do is to let go of the difficult experiences we have had. We spend a lot of time rehashing thoughts and memories – most often of painful experiences. Although we need to process what has happened to us, we also need to let go so that we can move on. This is much easier said than done. Many of the things we find hard to let go of are things that have affected our hearts and souls.

The Prophet Isaiah encourages the leadership of Israel to let go of their past, their corruption and disobedience to God, which had caused trauma to the whole nation. He speaks words of encouragement, saying that God can bring something new out of the pain. They should not dwell on the past.

Letting go does not mean that we pretend nothing happened. It means that we acknowledge and process our thoughts and feelings but that we do not allow them to stunt our growth and cause us ongoing stress and turmoil.

Holding on to unpleasant experiences and pain doesn’t fix anything. Rehashing the past doesn’t change it, wishing things were different doesn’t make it so. Most times, all we can do when it comes to the past is to acknowledge whatever we are holding onto and then slowly move to accepting it and letting it go. That’s the beginning of something new. That is how everything shifts or changes.

Oddly enough, we can become comfortable with painful feelings, especially if they are our focus. We may have trouble letting go of our pain or other unpleasant emotions from the past because we think those feelings define us. Sometimes we do not know who we are without our pain. We define ourselves by our past hurts rather than our potential futures. This makes it impossible for us to let go. Today we ask for the grace to let life be as it is, to let go of what stops us from realising our potential and being the people God invites us to be.

What past hurt do I hold onto that prevents my growth? How can I begin the process of letting go?

Creator God,

You do not define us by our past. You are a God of healing and the future. Give me the grace to let go of my past hurts so that I can embrace the future you offer me.


Fr Russell Pollitt SJ

Fr Russell Pollitt SJ is the Director of the Jesuit Institute and is interested in the impact that communications technology has on society and spirituality. He regularly comments on South African Politics and various issues in the Catholic Church.

director@jesuitinstitute.org.za @rpollittsj
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