I think there are a few different ways we respond in fear about our pasts: One is that we allow our past to define us. Maybe it's something awesome about your past, maybe it's something tragic, but whenever we allow anything other than what God says about us to define us we are in for trouble. I get all tangled up in myself when I allow my past to define me. "I was X type of person in my past so I could never do Y." That's a total lie. Yes, the things that have happened to me have shaped me, but they don't define me.
Another way we respond to our pasts is that we hide in fear of our past. I think it's pretty common to have a fear of being exposed. I have often felt like if people really knew me then they wouldn't like me anymore. If they saw me at my meanest, if they knew my real struggles, if they found out what I've really said and done and thought and struggled with. Look, this is also a lie. When I found the right friends and opened up about all of these things I thought I had to hide, the response was love, compassion and in some cases a "me too." It was the most freeing thing ever and in the right moment sharing my past and letting someone else see the broken places in my past can help someone who is struggling.
One more unhealthy way we sometimes respond to our pasts is that we sit in unforgiveness. This is something I find that creeps in on me when I'm not looking and suddenly there it is: bitterness in all it's ugliness and I find I have to practice forgiveness all over again. This is the thing I still struggle with the most. I don't have any kind of big dramatic story - I just have regular, ordinary, everyday hurts but they come back up now and then and I have to choose to keep moving and not sit in the unforgivenness.
Here is the truth about our pasts: God is doing something beautiful and he is constantly turning our wilderness into an oasis, he makes beauty out of ashes, he takes our shame and redeems it. Being brave about my past means that I don't hide it, or allow it to define me, or weigh me down in bitterness. I give it to Him, and watch Him redeem it. He is really really good at this and I honestly can't wait to see what He is about.