By Ta-Ning Connai

We all have a past. Some are tainted by shattered dreams, lost love or unbearable regrets. Others have enough scandal, dirt and drama to beat EMPIRE in the ratings. Fortunately for me, I'm just glad I didn't catch a case like Cookie or be left for dead like Lucious, 'cause that could've been me with my formerly crazy self! Whatever the case, the past can be haunting, with a grip that can cripple us and keep us from forging ahead.

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Our minds have a way of reliving a matter over and over again until we manage to make it worse. Whether we're beating ourselves up or making excuse after excuse, the overthinking never ends. All the "coulda woulda shoulda" in the world won't change what was, nor should those words be allowed to contaminate the rest of your life. So when God comes to pull you out from the hold of yesteryear, do yourself a favor...Don't Look Back.

Lot and his family had a chance to escape a city doomed for destruction (Genesis 19:15-26). Right before the fire and brimstone were about to fall, the Lord sent angels to guide them to a place of safety. "Run!" and "Don't look back!" were the simple instructions given, yet for Lot's wife it was evidently just too much to ask. Looking over her shoulder took her one step backward. And that one step backward was her last step ever. She allowed the familiarity of the past to forfeit her future, by mediating on the way things were just a little too long. For rejecting God's grace and His gift of a second chance, she was turned into a pillar of salt.

Now, whether you take this as a true story like I do, or prefer to call it a myth, the moral remains the same. When God tries to move you forward by leaving your past behind, Don't Look Back. When God invites you into a brand new future full of new ideas and new plans, Don't Look Back. As we can see, a one minute pause can end up lasting forever. So do not hesitate and do not linger, unless you wanna stay stuck. I was once stuck for years…

A hot summer night in the 80’s, I was out joyriding with my criminal-minded boyfriend. That would have been bad enough, but I had the nerve to drag my lil' brother Mark with us. See, I was on punishment AGAIN, but because my bestie was having a birthday party right across the street, moms said we could go.

Midnight was our curfew, but by 10 the party suddenly ended with a bang...a bang from a GUN! Frantically, everyone scattered like wild cattle and, one by one, we all made it back safe to my boyfriend's car. Whew! You'd think we'd just go home early and be happy to be alive, but no, I had 2 more hours of freedom and I wasn't about to waste one minute of it! So true when they say "an idle mind is the devil's workshop"! And it's even worse when you have a bad influence you wanna impress. So, off we went to appease our boredom by being mean to innocent strangers. It was the joyride I'd live to regret.

There were only 3 simple steps to my induction into the Hall of Shame:
#1 Buy a 7-Eleven Big Gulp
#2 Speed wildly down a popular boulevard
#3 Throw drink out the back window into someone's face

Yes, I did this. And in front of my little bro! Oh how could I???!!! Now, I could go on to explain the various things that led to my desperate need for acceptance, but I won't because reasons are not excuses. I thought I'd feel great after proving I was so "cool," but going to such drastic lengths to be someone I'm not proved to be so so wrong.

If only my cherry soaked casualty would've just flipped me off or cursed me out, I could've handled that. Anger, bring it on. But the pain in his eyes, it really had me shook.

I had never seen such an expression of vulnerable helplessness before. And when I looked to my boyfriend for a moment of collaborated remorse, all he did was laugh. Nothing funny about watching your victim take on shame and embarrassment for something they don't deserve, but since I was the one who “pulled the trigger” so to speak, all I could really do was pretend it was alright. But it wasn't alright, and neither was I for a very long time.

It would be DECADES before I could actually forgive myself. One day I just closed my eyes, pictured my victim’s face and asked Jesus to relieve him of any lingering trauma that I may have caused. I asked the Lord to touch his heart and supernaturally reveal to him my sorrow and regret. And since I really believed that God could do it, I've been at peace ever since. Won't He do it!

God wants you to say farewell to all those skeletons in your closet. It's time to close the door on all the crap that's been wearing you down; that bad break up with what's his name or your decision to drop out of school; maybe it's the job you should've taken or the kids you had too soon, or didn’t have at all. Whatever your yesterdays, there's a better tomorrow waiting for you. When you accept God's Heavenly Do-Over, your bad choices become valuable lessons and your life gets filled with joy. All ya gotta do is let go of the past, forgive yourself, expect a better ending and PUH-LEEZ quit looking back!

Are you holding on to something that you need God to release you from?
TA-NING is a former model and clothing designer who one day got the "call" to leave the fab world of fashion behind. While in Bible College, she discovered her knack for mixing her quirky style of writing with her gift to teach. TA-NING'S TELL IT TUESDAY is a weekly column (originally launched on Facebook) that uses doses of pop culture to tear down the walls of churchy tradition, change the face of Christianity, and present its message in a lively way. Ta-ning resides in Santa Monica (by way of Brooklyn), is obsessed with dogs, and is an old school Hip-Hop junkie!

By Veronica Wells

For as much damage as social media is probably doing to all of our psyches, it's provided endless inspiration for me as a writer and thinker. It's a study in human behavior at our fingertips. A few weeks ago, I stumbled across this post on Instagram. It resonated with me immediately because in the past few years my eyes have been opened to the excuses, the allowances, the exceptions we make for bad behavior when it comes to a man. Patriarchy. In our centering and edifying of men, there's no accountability.

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I've seen women brag about canceling friends and cutting off family for hurting or offending them but break their necks (and spirits) to be with men who would ultimately violate them in even worse ways. Your momma tells you a hard truth about yourself and you don't speak to her for three months. Your man cusses you, belittles your entire existence and with one "Good Morning" text, you’re ready to forget it ever happened.

I know it happens but I wanted to understand why. So I asked a group of women. I'll share their responses and conclude with my own.

Blaque: Low self esteem, lack of confidence. And in "Our" case.... They haven’t tapped into their Queen Status.

Morgan: The greatest motivation is the fear of being alone.

Whitney: I feel like the betrayal feels worse when it comes from a friend/family which makes it harder to overcome.

India: Girl. Women are desperate for love from a man and look at everyone else as disposable. Women base their worth around the ability to keep a man compared to their ability to be loyal to their friends. To expect more from a friend/family member than you do your companion is backwards because the person you build with should be the person that you expect the most from. To expect less is the secret ingredient to end up with a n***a stressing you out/alone and bitter.

Caron: Different kind of love, different connection, different relationships, so the betrayal is also framed differently. Women have been TAUGHT to accept certain things from men, too. It’s more than desperation (as a surprising amount of women have mentioned), the type of intimacy will have its own response. We have not been taught the truth about forgiveness, either. When we learn our emotional response is not only wrong, but we don’t have the right to what we feel, it leads to avoidance and many unhealthy decisions.

Lydia: I'm not sure it’s always easier for a woman to forgive their romantic partner than their family or friends or rather it’s more of an individual priority. There's possibly many layers to this but many women seek the validation of a man. The assurance that not only were they specially chosen but unfortunately it’s also the place where some feel like they've found a sense of purpose and maybe even for the first time, an identity. I believe the thought is that if I can nurture this relationship first, one that is specifically designed to water and take care of me, I can then be a fountain of life for everyone else around me. It's not all together right but it’s a sign of misplaced dependency.

Personally, I was taught to expect but not accept a man acting up. And by that I mean intentionally and repeatedly hurting or dishonoring me. I heard messages about them being untrustworthy. Thankfully, I grew up witnessing a very healthy marriage; still, I didn't have to look far to find examples that supported the messages from the older, wiser and revered women in my life.

So I stepped out into the world of boys and eventually men, armed. I was always looking for reasons to cut them off. After all, we get to choose our romantic partners, which means we get to choose the types of behavior we’ll tolerate. And I was raised not to tolerate disrespect from anyone but particularly a person I willingly allowed into my life.

With family, whether we cut them off or not they'll always be ours and in most cases, represent the things we like and loathe about ourselves. For me, if you truly know and understand your family members, you know the pain behind the hurt they inflict on others. That doesn’t mean I’d keep toxic people in my life just because they’re related by blood, it means I’d likely make more exceptions for the people to which I’m bound than those who don’t have to be in my life, causing chaos and confusion.

Many of us will have to eventually exercise forgiveness in a majority of our relationships. People, no matter who they are, will hurt and disappoint you. I just want to know that if I'm going to have to forgive, it should be for a person who’s worthy.

Do you forgive your partner easier than your family and friends?
Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days” and the creator of the website NoSugarNoCreamMag. You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.