Starting Over (Part 4) Release It
by Andy Stanley

This is the last message in Andy’s four-part series Starting Over. In this episode he explains how to release the past. This is to ensure that next time won’t be like last time. What we mean by that is if you’re in a stage of life where you’re starting over academically, professionally, a new marriage, a new relationship, a new neighborhood, a new city, you’ve wrapped up something that didn’t end as well as you thought it should, in fact you hope nobody finds out about it. If you find yourself having to start over, this is the series for you.

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Here are some highlights from Starting Over (Part 4) – Release It by Andy Stanley:

This is the last message in Andy’s four-part series Starting Over.  In this episode he explains how to release the past.  This is to ensure that next time won’t be like last time.  What we mean by that is if you’re in a stage of life where you’re starting over academically, professionally, a new marriage, a new relationship, a new neighborhood, a new city, you’ve wrapped up something that didn’t end as well as you thought it should, in fact you hope nobody finds out about it.  If you find yourself having to start over, this is the series for you.

At 2:03 Andy talks about moving from rethink it to release it:

In order to start over in such a way that next time is better than last time you got to own it, rethink it and release it. Remember that the circle of blame that explains why your marriage failed, why the business failed, why you have so much debt, why school didn’t go the way your wanted it, to why she broke up, you know here’s all the blame. Essentially you know there’s part of it that we’re to blame and then there’s part of it where other people are to blame. At every failure, every junction, every transition in life where things didn’t go well there’s something we got to own. There’s part of it that we got to blame.

This week I want to talk about the rest of this pie so when we talk about owning it, that’s the part that you’re responsible for. Not dealing with this enables the person who hurt you to smuggle their issues into your future! You actually allow the people who hurt you, deceived you, lied to you, you allow them to actually influence your future. None of us want the people who created chaos in our lives either in childhood, or that last job, or that last neighborhood, or the last team or that last school.

At 4:54 Andy talks about two questions that need to be asked:

So here’s two questions I used to ask people all the time and they never had a good answer for.  I think they are important questions as it relates to moving on.  The first question is how far into your future do you intend to carry the angst created in your past?  The second question is how long do you plan to allow the people who mistreated you to influence you?  Another month, another marriage, another season, your whole career?  We don’t plan it, we just live it.  We have bad attitudes, and we have all these fears and anxieties, and we don’t trust people, and we’re angry and we have a short fuse.  We’ve allowed the people who’ve hurt us most to kind of follow us into our future.  How long do you plan to allow the people who mistreated you to influence you?  Have you ever met somebody and they’re like kind of living a wrinkle-free life, you know everything just kind of perfect and then you hear their story?  They have some like big gargantuan ugly monster of a thing in their past and you think to yourself, I would have never guessed.  When I meet people like that I always ask this question how did you get peace?   100% of the time is because they decided, they decided, they made up their mind.  They decided that their past would remind them, but it would not define them.  They decided somewhere along the way, as bad as that was somehow they found the courage or the power or the insight to decide to make up their minds.  I have a dear friend with one of those stories and I asked her how did you get from there to here?  How did you get to this point where when people meet you they would never guess that’s part of your past?  She said I decided, I decided there was enough pain in life, I wasn’t going to drag that along with me the rest of my life.  It wasn’t worth it, I decided there’s going to be enough new pain why in the world would I want to drag that around with me the rest of my life?

At 10:57 Andy talks about two questions that need to be asked:

You’ve got to find a way to let go of the past, release the past, so your past will inform your decisions, but it will not control your life.  The way you get there is you forgive, you forgive.  Forgiveness allows us to leverage the lessons of the past without lugging around the luggage from the past.  Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry”.  Paul admits there is an appropriate place for anger, but there’s a way to be angry and not to sin.  Put in the name of the person(s) who have hurt you, now let’s read it again, in your anger do not sin, do not let the sun go down while you’re still angry and do not give “Frank” a foothold in our life.  Do you really want to give the person who hurt you the most staging ground in your life?  You’re not a victim, you don’t have to spend the rest of your sad story. Paul says get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, slander along with every form of malice.  He says be kind and compassionate to one another and there’s our words, forgiving one another.  The only way to break the chain between what has been done to you and your future, the only way to pardon the person who hurt you is to decide to pardon them.  I don’t hold you accountable, you are free to go, you’re not following me into my future.

At 21:34, Andy concludes talking about releasing and pardoning:

You aren’t pardoned, you are forgiven.  The reality of forgiving the people who’ve hurt us the most is not simply because they deserve it, they probably don’t, but because God in Christ made that very same decision for you.  This is amazing, God does not factor your sin into his relationship with you.  He freed himself of the burden of looking at you through the filter of your sin by choosing to pardon you another way.  Your future relationship with God isn’t shadowed by your past sin, he disconnected your past sin from his future relationship with you and now Paul says we have the same opportunity.  Andy recommends you to make a list of what they owe you.  You need to get specific and write down exactly what they owe you.  You need to say what did they take from me, they took my childhood, your opportunity to raise a child, your advantage of your high grade point average, they took away, they took away.  Here’s what you will discover when you start your list, it will be longer than you ever imagined and as you make your list some of the energy is going to come out of your story.  When you finally make a list, here is all that they took from me, here is all that they owe me, something powerful may happen inside of you.  That’s when you can hold that out, not to them, they don’t have to be a part of this.  You decide you don’t owe me anymore, you know what else you’re going to discover?  Most of what they took from you, they can’t pay you back.  How ridiculous to spend your whole life waiting to be paid back something that can’t ever be paid back.  They can’t restore what was taken, so why hold over someone’s head a debt they couldn’t repay even if they wanted to.

Until you own this, you’re going to have a very difficult time releasing and pardoning.  The good news is if you do this your past will remind you, but it will not define you.  You can move on, release the past and the past can release you.

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