As we move through this season of renewal, I am struck by how often we find it difficult to move forward in our personal relationships, especially with the people in our lives who have let us down. What starts as a manageable issue that, if dealt with, could disappear altogether, only becomes weightier the more we pick it over in our heads and let it replay in our minds. We unconsciously carry around every slight, every hurt and every bit of pain until we’re practically staggering under the strain.

But we cannot keep dragging heavy bags, anger, disappointment, sadness throughout life and from year to year. The question, then, is how do we let go of what we’ve carried for so long? In order to move forward, we must be intentional. I think about a woman I met who had been hurt by a family member some 15 years ago. As a result, she stopped talking to her brothers, sisters and even her children. She has missed birthdays, holidays, gatherings and the arrival of her first grandchild, all because she’s choosing to hold fast to pain instead of grabbing on to glory. Stuck in that place for years, she continues to waste valuable time and energy by remaining hurt. You may be like this woman, so I want to share with you three key ways to move past the pain.

The first step to healing is having the desire to be healed. Many of us never progress past the hurt because we have little want to get up and move on from where we are. In the Bible, there’s a scripture about a man who had been handicapped for 38 years, sitting at the edge of a body of water with healing powers. Jesus approached him and asked, “Do you want to get well?” In other words, Jesus was asking,“How badly do you want to be healed?” The man then tells Jesus why he has remained in the same place. There are many reasons why we stay stuck, but there is so much more in store for us if we move toward purpose. Jesus tells the lame man to simply rise and walk, and he suddenly finds that he has been made well. When desire is met with opportunity, desire responds with action.

The second step is discipline. We have to make a deliberate decision to let things go, to walk away from bitterness or rage. We have to focus on being better even when we don’t want to or when we don’t feel it. Someone once said, “Practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent.” And we have to train our minds to focus noton what happened to us, but on the fact that we survived to tell the story.

Next, we must have determination. Letting go of hurt and pain requires willpower and resolve. So many of us start the process, but as soon as we feel better or see some results we fall short of completing the course. The scripture reminds us that the race is not given to the swift, but to those who endure to the end. And so we have to do as Bishop T.D. Jakes says in his book Let It Go: Forget those things which are behind us, and make that which has happened in the past a noneffect to our present and future.

Life is all about relationships. And in those relationships-business, family or friends-we experience hurt and pain. But if we are committed to the partnership, we can work through it. I trust that as you enter this new year you will check your excess baggage. Walk into the new season with bountiful love, joy, peace and happiness, so much so that you have holiday cheer to pass on. Be blessed and a blessing!

Rev. Jasmin Sculark is the senior pastor at Jericho City of Praise in Landover, Maryland, and author of Dancing With Broken Bones.

This article was originally published in the January 2015 issue of ESSENCE Magazine, on newstands now!

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