Your Past Isn’t the BOSS


I texted these words to Hannah this week. Then paused. They are true for more than a 16 year of girl. They are Truth for all of us.

Don’t let your past be your boss today.

It’s madness to expect to go through life hitting each step perfectly. We are human. By design, we are flawed. I quit writing in this corner of the world because I got tired of the emotional effort it took to sort the story in the midst of a hard chapter.

Yesterday I starting thinking about writing a blog post and I had to fight to believe that I am a writer who writes in the middle of the muddle. The recent past says otherwise, but it is not the boss of me.

How many of us go through life letting the past boss us around? How many of us allow the past to be a bully?

Today I say enough. Let’s not allow the past to define us.

Hannah shoots a text back to me and says:

You mean I’m not in trouble?

Sometimes it’s hard to believe we can move forward, that the past really doesn’t have a hold on us. I write back to Hannah:

Trouble comes when you lie. You don’t get in trouble from telling the truth. You don’t get in trouble from making a mistake.

If only we all could believe this. The past likes to conjure up ugly stories, making us believe things are dreary. It’s true for all of us. You are not the person you once were. The  only way the past can hold on is if we let it.

My phone bings with another message from Hannah:

Now I’m glad I told the truth. Are you home? I’m going to come and get a hug before work.

Sometimes I wonder how many times I miss the real story of people because I’m too busy to notice they are being bossed around by their pasts. I’m thinking about the things I need to get done for work and the way I need to grab the meat from the freezer and put it in the microwave to defrost, then start a load of laundry and change my clothes to go for a walk. I grab my phone and check my email filtering the easy ones for a response and thumb a message back. I find a few still moments  and open my Instagram or Twitter feeds. I’m waiting to pick up someone from practice or take someone to a meeting, so I open my Kindle app and read a few more pages.

I’m learning it is a battle to be wholly present, yet this is the best way to not let the past boss me around. If I’m not present, it’s too easy to believe the lies of the past. If I’m not present, I see the things others should correct.

A long time ago, under the beating heat of the mid-day sun, an unassuming Jewish man sat next to a well. A Samaritan woman came to draw water and against all custom and sense, the man spoke to her.

Give me a drink.

She was taken aback. He should not have spoken to her. She was drawing water in the middle of the day because she was hoping to avoid all others. She had a very bossy past.

You don’t have anything to hold the water, she told the man.

The man wasn’t scrolling social media feeds, nor was he preoccupied with getting things done for the day. He took the time to notice her story and rather than rushing or condemning, he was present and kind. He talked with her, unhurried, and told her who she could be.

Too often we like to tell people what they need to change in their lives. We think it’s our job to point out everything they’re doing wrong. I’m thinking it might be best to encourage them instead.

Don’t let your past be your boss today.

Q: Hey, Ruth! What about Celebrate This Week? 

A: I love the Celebrate This Week community and promise I’m doing some thinking.  It will be back soon. Thank you for your grace.

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  1. Ruth – You never fail to inspire me! It sometimes is so hard for all of us – kids and adults alike – to let go of the past – forgive yourself and move on. But it is the only way to GROW! Otherwise we get stuck in the same small cycle. I think nurturing creativity and imagination helps people to move on from the past – gives them a vision of possibility. I love reading about your kids and your thoughtful reflections! THANK YOU!

  2. Good message, Ruth. My past comes to me like the force of gravity. I have to have the Lord to keep it from being too heavy on me. Those times I need to remember that the blood of Jesus is not grape juice but the power of God to erase the ghosts of my past that grieve me and cripple me to render me useless to serve the Lord. Thank you for your message. Hope you are doing well. Much love to you.

  3. Oh WOW!!! This is so true and we need our students to believe that. How many of us hear what other teachers have said and believe that! All students deserve a fresh start every year, every day, every hour! That is a standard of life. (In my opinion) Can we all just learn to forgive and forget if possible. . . marching on down the road of life, listening to our own drums!