6 Steps to Leaving Your Baggage in the PastIs the baggage from the past getting heavy? Put it down! Baggage from past relationships, trauma, and childhood gets carried into the present until it is dealt with. This emotional weight strains a person’s mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational health. Can God make a way to leave the heavy baggage behind? Yes. Here are six steps to take to lighten the load.

  1. Agree with God that there’s a problem from the past, and confess it.
    No one can overcome an issue until they acknowledge it. There’s a reason for every feeling—anger, joy, or bitterness. God’s word for “agree” is the word “confess.” To confess something means to agree that it is true. When it comes to baggage that is bothering an individual, they must recognize that things have gone wrong – either done to them or done by them – and agree with God or “confess,” that they have happened and affected them deeply.
  2. Heal and grieve.
    The next step is to receive the care and healing needed to deal with the root cause of the wound. A brokenhearted person must allow others to give them God’s care and love to help mend their broken heart. To heal past losses and hurts, one must grieve. Ecclesiastes 7:3 says, “Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.”
  3. Accept forgiveness.
    Often, the pain that a person drags into the present is the pain of failure from the past. If one feels guilty or ashamed of things they have done, they cannot tackle life with gusto. For an individual to leave their baggage behind, they must know they are accepted, forgiven, and loved. That kind of forgiveness and love is the kind of love that God has. Ask Him for this love, and receive it.
  4. Forgive others.
    Resentment and unforgiveness tie an individual to the offenses that initially caused those feelings. God has provided a way for someone to be free of past debts through forgiveness. To the degree that a person embraces God’s forgiveness, they can forgive others.Reconciliation, however, depends on whether the perpetrator has seen the error of their ways and repents. To forgive does not mean that the victim denies that someone has hurt them. Nor does it mean they have to trust or allow them into their heart again. Forgiveness is not about the future—it’s about letting go of what happened in the past. Also, it’s about acknowledging the things done to harm them, and the past debts owed.
  5. Examine unhealthy patterns.
    A significant part of the baggage of the past has to do with patterns of behavior learned from hurtful situations. The list of self-defeating patterns that one can develop may seem insurmountable. But when unhealthy ways of coping with the past are conquered and healthier habits are implemented, it will transform the present.
  6. Find a new identity.
    Another baggage people carry is having a poor view of themselves that they’ve learned in past relationships or situations. However, a healthy identity is found only in a relationship with Christ and safe people who will accept them for who they are.

For help dealing with the past, attend a New Life Workshop. Find out more by calling 800-NEW-LIFE.

by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend