“Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Matthew 9:17 (NIV)
I have a favorite pair of golf shoes, but they are extremely old. They were great until golf shoe construction changed. Today’s designs for golf shoes give more consideration to the need for waterproofing, they’re able to handle rough terrain, and they can be comfortable to wear both on and off the course. In other words, since the years when my favorite shoes were the standard golf shoes to possess, technology has advanced and construction has matured.
Of course, I’ve purchased golf shoes that are more recently designed, but I haven’t thrown away the old pair. I just have to manage them differently, given that I have more thoroughly constructed shoes now. I can only wear those old shoes sparingly. I can only wear the old shoes on certain golf courses, where there are certain conditions that are favorable to the old shoes.
That means my old shoes are worn less. They're worn very intentionally based upon what I know I’ll face when I leave the house. They are still valuable and useful to me, but I can't wear them anywhere—just on the courses that are best suited to them. The new shoes I bought, on the other hand, can be worn everywhere. No matter the surface, they are appropriate for it.
Here's my point. Everything you've been through is necessary. Everything you've experienced is instructive. Everything you’ve survived is revelatory. It's all preserved for the benefit of memory. It shapes you when you're making decisions, because it forces you to not forget what it cost you, how it hurt you, or the time it took from you.
These things are used only as frequently as your need to be reminded of the grace of God and the power that He has employed in your life to restore you and to turn you around. It’s not that you are giving loyalty to the pain, but you never forget it, because it reminds you that the only reason you survived the pain is because God's grace is amazing. You don't discard those “old shoes,” but you don't live as devoted to them. Why? Because Jesus has introduced you to “new shoes,” and it shows up in your world as a transformed mind, as a renewed heart, and a more mature spiritual discernment.
In other words, don’t despise the past—but don’t live in the past either. Recognize the value of your past as you move forward into the future.