Hurts, Hang-Ups and Habits

Pride and shame too often keeps us from answering God’s calls, but even Forrest Gump discovered he could not run from his past forever. 

by Michael Stephens

Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 

One of my favorite movies is “Forrest Gump.” I can watch that movie every week. There’s a scene in it to which I can connect. It’s when Forrest realizes Jenny isn’t coming back. What does he do next? He starts running for a long time. He runs from his past hurts, hang-ups and habits. Does his story sound familiar? It does to me. I used to run from my past, acting as though it never happened. However, I couldn’t run far enough from my hurts, hang-ups and habits. I was still carrying all the pain and guilt of my past, and unfortunately, it eventually had an impact on my relationships with family, friends and ministry. I allowed my codependency and anger to control me, and sooner than later, my past became a part of my everyday life. 

“God has given you a name and a purpose.”

Michael Stephens

There was a point in my life where I was running from God. I thought He was done with me. However, God kept on chasing me. You can’t outrun God; He’s faster than you. You can’t change your number fast enough. He’ll find you and keep on calling. I wasn’t answering His calls because I was too ashamed and too prideful.

There’s a scene later in the movie where Forrest stops running all of sudden. He tells the people that were running with him that he’s tired and wants to go home. Forrest could run only so long from his past. He got to a point where it was time to face it. This is where a lot of us are right now. We’re tired of running, but we don’t want to face the past, because we’re afraid of doing it alone. I’m here to tell you that you aren’t alone. Yes, it took me a while to accept the truth that people do care about me. More importantly, I am a child of God, and God wants the absolute best for me and for you. 

God has given you a name and a purpose. Your purpose isn’t to suffer with your hurts, hang-ups and habits any longer. You’re not reading this by mistake. It’s time to let go. It’s time to stop running from the past. It won’t be easy, but it’s so worth it. God doesn’t want you to go through life continuing to carry the heavy chains of your past. Jesus Christ died on the cross and defeated death, so you no longer have to live in your past hurts, hang-ups and habits. 

There are so many great churches in our community. I hope you run to one of them. That’s what I had to do. At first, I wasn’t too sure, but nothing else was working. Even though I tried, I couldn’t fix myself. Find that church where it’s OK to say you’re not OK. Find that church where the pastor says “come as you are, and we are going to love you where you are at,” where it’s not a slogan but at the heart of their ministry. Find that church where people truly want to care for and love you. Find that church where you can grow closer to Jesus through worship, discipleship and service to others. 

You’re not alone. 

Matthew 11:28–30 says, “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.’” 

Michael Stephens is the pastor at Starrsville Church in Covington. For information, visit

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