Letting Go of the Past

What’s in your closet?

As I put the sewing box back in the closet, I spotted the big white cardboard boxes tucked so far back I had to crawl in to drag them out. Each of the dust-covered, shrink-wrapped boxes had a large plastic window that displayed a wedding dress bodice hermetically sealed inside.


Box Number 1

Jay (or Hot & Hunky, as I called him). It was a high-collared, lacy gown with long, poofy lace sleeves. Not the least bit sexy. I was trying to get his mother’s approval since Jay married me just months after I quit my job as a Playboy Bunny. Fourteen years later, my heart broke and my world imploded when Jay died suddenly of a heart attack at thirty-nine years old.


Box Number 2

The next box held an ivory satin sheath that flattered the flawless figure I’d earned from grieving Hot & Hunky. (When I’m sad, I don’t eat.) Even at forty-one, I looked more like a model than a mom when I walked down the aisle to marry Craig, Adventure Boy. 

A pilot error, a thunderstorm, and a mountain range created a trifecta of tragedy that took Adventure Boy’s life at the age of forty-one.


Box Number 3

The last box held the five-hundred-pound white-beaded gown I wore to marry Dave, Mr. 4-Ever, who is, I am happy to report, holding up remarkably well. 


Sitting with all the feels.

The decades have ticked off while those dresses sat in their plastic prison. Even if I wanted to wear them again, I’d never get them zipped over my thicker, well-padded frame.

As I sat with the sweet memories of wedding day parties, the handsome men I’d share my life with, I suddenly realized I didn’t need those dresses anymore. I no longer wanted them to fasten me emotionally to a previous time, man, or broken dream.


Purging the past.

Out of fear I pretended was reverence, I had remained attached to what was good or purposeful once, but which no longer served me well. It was time to make room for something new. The wedding dresses could better used elsewhere. So I gave them away.

One made its way to Costa Rica to make another bride’s day special. Another was cut up to make a burial gown for a baby’s funeral. One decorates a friend’s barn that serves as a wedding venue.


Make room for the new.

Some things you keep because they serve you—a quilt your grandma made or a photo of your wedding day. Other things you get rid of to make room for something new that can move you unhindered into your future.

Just as Abram trusted God by packing up and moving on, we have to let go of the very good and familiar to find the land where God will bless us.

Just as Job, who endured great tribulation, moved past the trials to recreate a new life and family, we have to forgive and move on.

When Peter betrayed Jesus, his future could have been forfeit, but he allowed Jesus to restore him and let go of his failures, and we have to believe Jesus forgives us too.


What are you holding onto?

What thing of the past needs to leave so you have room for the new thing God has for you?

Is God calling you into something new, as he did Abram? Have you passed through a trial you hold on to like it’s an old friend? Is there a mistake in your past that still causes you shame, even though Jesus has offered restoration? Could today be the day you evaluate what’s taking up the space in your mind and heart that God wants to fill with new thoughts and dreams?


Verse for today: The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. . . ” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.  —Genesis 12:1, 4

Prayer: Lord, I cling to what I know because it’s familiar, even if it isn’t useful. Give me discernment to sort and sift out the old clutter, not just in my closets but also in my mind and heart, to make room for what you have for me. I want to trust you. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Jay and I at our reception – 1982

Craig and me with the boys at our wedding – 1998

Dave and me on our big day – 10/6/2001



  1. Sue Lennon on August 28, 2022 at 7:59 am

    Dearest Robyn, what a blessing it was to read this today. I am a member at Indian Rocks Baptist and heard you speak at Tribe (I think it was my 2nd time there)! And I have been following you since.
    I am a widow (5 yrs.) lost my mom who lived with me last year. My grown son and I decided to stay in the house together….until he decided to move to Tennessee for a girl (long BAD story). So now I am selling my house, getting a much smaller space mobile home and having to try and find a forever home for HIS really large dog, becasue otherwise he will put her in a shelter.
    So I have been tasked with purging….a lot of STUFF. But your article has reminded me that I must make room for what God has in store for me. I am a ‘collector’…my daughter call is hoarding. But I remember where each and every Knick knack that I own came from. I enjoy looking at them. But at what cost?
    Thank you,…God keeps putting what I need right in front of me at just the right moment! Blessings until I see you at Tribe!

    • Robyn Dykstra on August 28, 2022 at 11:17 am

      Sue, thank you for posting this. It’s a big task to downsize your treasure trove. I’m praying God will help you determine what stays with you and what goes to bless someone else.

  2. Wendy on August 28, 2022 at 9:23 am

    Thanks for sharing a part of your heart through this post! God used it to speak to me in so many ways!! I’ve been a painful & joyful journey with Jesus the last 3 years. Still struggle some days knowing how to let go & yet hold space for hope. After 23 years of marriage my husband decided its to hard & left. Through God’s word he has been revealing to me what a covenant marriage should be. “Till death do us part” not calling it quits because you don’t feel in love anymore. After 3 years I’m still praying for restoration & reconciliation. Not a easy thing to live out daily when the church of America has close to the same percentage of divorce & remarriage as the world. As believers this should not be & I think it breaks God’s heart.

    • Robyn Dykstra on August 28, 2022 at 11:15 am

      Wow, that’s so painful, Wendy. So sorry this is your current situation. I admire and agree with you about waiting on God for restoration and reconciliation. amen

    • Carol Kerry on August 30, 2022 at 6:54 pm

      Thank you for sharing your purging. It has given me something for thought. Carol K

  3. Judi Asiala on August 28, 2022 at 1:04 pm

    I kept my wedding dress, which was floor length with a short train for several years. I finally cut it to knee length to wear on special occasions. It always seemed too fancy with the lace bodice–it still looked like a wedding dress!! I finally gave it to Goodwill. Months later I saw it in the Halloween display!! It was a good laugh 🙂 Not a lot of new brides want a used dress 😉

    • Robyn Dykstra on August 28, 2022 at 3:19 pm

      Hi Judi,

      Yikes, that’s a startling view – even in my imagination. 🙂

  4. Sue on August 28, 2022 at 4:05 pm

    Thank you for your words today. God keeps reminding me that he forgave me a long time ago, I just can’t forgive myself.

    • Robyn Dykstra on August 30, 2022 at 1:58 pm

      You are not alone. Many of us gals can forgive others atrocities but hold ourselves to higher standard. I’m praying you come to know that Jesus died for all the sins. All is all, Friend. 🙂

  5. Leslie Russell on August 29, 2022 at 11:52 am

    Truth! When my hoarding tendencies kick in, I think to myself “If this thing could bring the deceased person who gave it to me back to life, transport me to the vacation site I got it from or make me able to wear it/fit inside it again, it would!” But, things don’t have that power and sometimes they need to be paid forward and be a blessing to someone else.

    • Robyn Dykstra on August 30, 2022 at 3:42 pm

      What a great way to consider the value of “things”

  6. Marilyn Bay on August 30, 2022 at 11:50 am

    Wow, you’ve had a lot of sorrow in your life. Thanks for sharing and turning the sorrows into good in your life and those of your readers.

    • Robyn Dykstra on August 30, 2022 at 3:41 pm

      Thank you Marilyn. Appreciate your kind words

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