God’s Word doesn’t return “void.” In other words, allowing God’s truths and promises to saturate our lives give us the very defense and offensive we need to press on positively to the future God has prepared for us. God will take those implanted seeds of truth to accomplish His purpose for our lives.

4. Forgive as Jesus has forgiven you.

If you desire – and expect – God’s grace and forgiveness to remain active in your life, you must learn to not only forgive others, but also yourself. When I temporarily slip back into an “Oh, me!” mentality, I find comfort and grace in reversing to an “Ah, Lord,” declaration. “Ah, Lord, if you have forgiven me so completely, what right do I have not to forgive others – or even myself?” (Forgive, as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13 NIV). His grace enables us to do what we can’t do alone: forgive.

You’ve heard, “To err is human; to forgive is divine.” I would add, “to not forgive is to trample down God’s grace and render it useless in our lives.” I love Proverbs 24:16 (NLT): The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. Everyone errs. But with God’s grace, we can all start over.

Perhaps we could also add, “To err is human, but not to learn from it (our errors), is foolish.” Be patient with yourself. Get an “accountability partner” – someone you trust who can check in with you often and help keep you moving in the right direction. You can step in the same hole only so many times. Sooner or later you’ll need to take a new path. Receive God’s infinite, complete forgiveness as a gift; then give Him the gift of belief and trust: that He still has good plans, a hope and a future for you (Jeremiah 29:11).

5. Keep moving forward by anticipating something today and something tomorrow.

My father used to say, “Have something to do today, something to do tomorrow.” I don’t know about you, but there’s always something to do at my house – or in my life – but not always what I anticipate doing. Yet even in the midst of the mundane, it helps to change my outlook by focusing on something I can look forward to today, and something I can look forward to tomorrow. That something may be as ambitious as writing 2500 words, or as practical as planting new garden flowers. It could be as simple as “coffee with Jesus,” moments when I can mix the aroma of fresh java with the perfume of God’s presence and time in His Word, or simply having lunch with a good friend.

Find joy in what you do, and in doing for others. Putting our past behind is a constant action; but so is pressing on. Consider a reachable goal like Mother Teresa‘s: “Doing small things with great love” – even while she worked in the midst of extreme poverty and adverse circumstances.

Recently, I read of two women and their noteworthy goals. One had just completed hers: writing 365 thank you notes in the previous year – one per day. The other woman chose a simple goal for 2012: “Be kind.” Great “somethings” to look forward to!

Busy Activity vs. Balanced Work

Discern the difference between busy activity and balanced work. Coping with a painful past can include hiding ourselves behind a facade of endless activity. We can try to cover our pain by eliminating any time to think, rest, or refresh. But band-aids don’t bring inner healing. They only cover the scars or open wounds. Balanced Work is a meaningful and intentional fulfilling of God’s purpose for our lives – that doesn’t crowd out right priorities.

These are only a few ways to help you find healing from the past. Accepting the truth that God has already covered your past will help eliminate any of your own painful coping methods. But it means trusting God daily with the details of your life. He will bless your todays and reinforce your tomorrows if you live in anticipation of God’s plans for you. He is the only One who can truly help you put the past behind and press on toward the future.