Releasing the Past


So if you read my “About Me” page you will recall that I have been divorced twice.  Not something I am proud of, but equally not something I am ashamed of any longer either.  I cannot say the second marriage was a mistake, but more importantly a decision I made that I was not fully ready for.  The signs were clear, but I ignored them, plain and simple.  I wish I could go deeper and say that it was something more profound, but it wasn’t.  In my spirit I knew better, and like so many of us I ignored the obvious signs.  So there I was, at the altar committing my life to someone I loved, before God and witnesses, but equally knew that I should not be getting married.  It was a teachable moment in the making.  Boy was it!  God must have laughed and cried at the same time wondering and knowing what was in stored for his foolish son.  On with the story…

She was a good woman (not perfect) that had high hopes for our marriage.  I thought I did as well, but in the background lied a real past that was unresolved.  That past would come back to teach me one the most significant life-lessons ever. (That specific lesson will be discussed in another post soon)  Indeed it was one of the most difficult ones as well.  I was broken and distraught that I had hurt so many people during this part of my life journey.  It was not until one Sunday evening that I came to grips with the real pain that lied deep within me.  A pain of hopelessness, shame and abruptly being alone.  I was overwhelmed with the feelings of grief, death and loss.  I’ll never forget that night.  My children were at their mother’s and I was upstairs prepping for the work week with a heavy heart and it hit me like a ton of bricks, suddenly.  I fell to my knees, cried out to God and yelled, “How am I going to make it, I mean really come through this”!?  I wish I could tell you it was a simple process that suddenly became easier, but it wasn’t. It actually became harder before it got better.  Quite honestly it was my faith in God that brought me through and my decision to confess my part to myself first then to a few trusted friends.  From that point my healing slowly began.  It was a journey that took me more than a year to fully recover and feel better about myself and my walk in life.  Along this journey I took a trip back east to visit one of my best friends.  Ironically, I was served with divorce papers that same week, so a trip was just what I needed to process my thoughts. Prior to leaving, I placed everything that represented my marriage in a metal box in my room, figuring I would deal with it when I returned home.  During my visit my friend tried his best to cheer me up, after all it was my birthday weekend, to add insult to injury.  Honestly, all I wanted was some quiet time in a different atmosphere, and to not see one happy couple while I was there. Unfortunately I was not obliged with this simple request 😉 .  We went to a restaurant that turned into a club.  I walked around and saw all these happy couples dancing.  Ugh, was my first and last reaction!  So I sat down, ate my dinner and wanted to leave as soon as possible.  Just then, while minding my own business, a lady asked me to dance. Really!?! (No one ever did that to me)  I looked at her for what felt liked an hour, contemplating no, but finally saying yes.  It was actually painless, but I was ready to leave after that and we did.

It was on my six-hour plane ride home that my breakthrough would come, like an epiphany.  I finished a great book I had started back home, entitled Kingdom Man, by Tony Evans.  There was one sentence in this book that I will never forget.  Evans said, “most men are unable to move on with their lives after suffering emotional damage because we remain tethered to our past”, with the key word being tethered.  Even after life has seemingly moved on for us men, something keeps us back, whether bad memories, guilt, people or ourselves.  Maybe it’s our innate desire to fix things. I’m not quite sure what it is actually, but it was in that moment that I realized what I needed to do when I returned home.  It was as clear as the stars were in the night sky from 30,000 feet in the airplane I was in.  I’ll never forget, my plane landed at San Francisco International Airport after midnight.  After the normal routine of obtaining my luggage, catching the shuttle to my car and making the forty-five minute trek home, I finally made it there about 2:00am.  I can still recall the energy I felt inside for what I was about to do.  There in my room lied the metal container of memories that I had mentioned earlier from my now defunct marriage.  Before I left I had no idea what I would do with these items, (that truly represented my state of mind and feelings) but now at this time I was clear, confident and certain with a strong sense of peace, courage and hope.  I grabbed the metal container, took it outside to my barbecue pit, poured some lighter fluid on it and burned it. (see the photo).  I called a dear friend to share my moment and I watched it burned until the flames went out. During that time I felt a release, a sense of letting something go that no longer wanted or needed to be a part of me anymore.  That night I made the decision to press the play button with the rest of my life.  I left for the East Coast with the pause button pressed, wondering what I was going to do and how I was going to fix my current circumstances.  I realized that I could not or need to fix anything.   What I needed to do was let go, move on and free myself from a past that could have potentially ruined any future that I had left to live. That was my new beginning.  Today I am no longer defined by my past nor tethered to any emotional guilt associated with it.  My past now only helps me to make better decisions for my present and my future.  My freedom came in the fire, even if it was only symbolic.

What are you still holding on to?  What act was so bad that you cannot seem to let go of, or you constantly feel compelled to apologize for?  How many, “I am sorry” does it take to feel better?  When are things finally over, how do we make amends with ourselves so that we can live freely again?  For me it was through the fire, literally and figuratively, owning my part (truly owning it) asking for forgiveness and having a deep remorse for my actions. This along with my faith set me free.  The remorse was painful, almost suffocating to my soul, but I pressed through it with much prayer, a great friend or two and the will to be better, versus bitter.  Do you realize that you can be better?  Are you able to see yourself living a whole life again?  The journey is one day or night at a time. “Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning”.  (Psalms 30:5 KJV).  As I reflect on this photo that I took that night, I recall the moment my past truly became just that.  Something behind me that no longer had the power to wreak havoc on my heart, relationships and most importantly my hope and courage to believe that I actually deserved to love and be loved again.  I had finally released my past…

This journey continues for me.  I’m interested in hearing about yours.  Please leave a comment and share your thoughts on how you have had to release something or someone in your life that represented your new beginning, or send me an email.

Keep Pressing,

Hank G



6 thoughts on “Releasing the Past”

  1. Hi Hank,
    WOW…a picture is worth a thousand words, however your thoughts regarding the picture are priceless. Thank you for sharing them! It’s very toughing to the spirit when anyone opens up to reflect, encourage and inspire. A strong heart is a passionate heart. A heart that is willing to let go and see the past “as the past” is a heart that is focused on God’s goodness. Letting go of the past can be very difficult, I know this to be true. But, when you find the courage to stand up for your future, you find your unconditional heart, you find your passion for life.
    Again, thank you, Hank, for sharing this week’s powerful encouraging blog!!
    Looking forward to reading more:-)
    Blessings to you!

    1. Hello Uniqq M,

      Thanks for encouraging words. It has ceratinly been a journey to get to this point. I will ccontinue to press ahead and learn as I go. I appreciate your support!

      Hank G

  2. I think that our modern culture has really lost something critical – RITUAL – in order to reflect, heal, and grow from our life experiences. I’m happy you found a way to intuitively “release” the past 🙂 I think we should all learn from that!

  3. Sarurah, this is true. With life running at high speed for most – RITUAL – as you stated, takes too much time. It’s unfortunate that many will take a short cut to “release”. I’m happy I found my way as well. Thank you for the comment. Much appreciated!

  4. This article was an amazing read! Hits home to my current self and situation. While I am still trying to find my way out of the dark, I felt the words you wrote and hope and pray for that day the past is the past and hope to live free!

    1. Kim, thank you for you comment. I’m happy this post found you at the right time. I truly understand about being in the dark place. It was a very tough time for me, but thank God I came through it. It took me finally accepting my reality, versus what I thought I wanted and slowly (with great support) the darkness began to fade. Hope to hear from you again.

      Hank G

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