Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Leaving the Past Behind

It's difficult for some of us to let go. Especially if you have 'photographic recall', like me. We have those memories, those experiences that can remain fresh in our minds, even decades later. I have often struggled with this problem. There would be those in my life who would tell me to "let it go", and no matter how hard I would try, it just seemed to remain.

Over the years, I've encountered different methods for putting the past to rest. It has been a process of taking what comes to mind, dealing with it, and letting God heal the memories. My perspective is from a Christian background, so much of what I say here will come out of my relationship with Jesus and where that has brought me today. No matter what a person believes, there are universal laws that are true. Some might call it 'karma'. I like to call it 'sowing and reaping'. There are consequences for everything; a cause and effect.

Most of my relationship struggles I brought on myself; and some were dealt to me by others. None of us is perfect. We have our own bent and tendencies for failure. Each of us is unique in that way. If you want a religious term, you can call it sin. Actually, the word 'sin' comes from Greek descent. It means 'to fall short'; like an archer who shoots his arrow and misses the mark. The 'sin', if you will, is the space between the bull's eye and where the arrow hit. I think we can all agree that each one of us has 'missed the mark' in some way, shape or form.

I've been in the process of closing the book on the past. Some of that has meant getting in touch with people I used to have relationships with, letting them know that I'm no longer angry--that there are no hard feelings that remain. Sometimes it has been me that has had to ask for forgiveness and make it right. It's complicated to attempt this and not find yourself feeling entangled, all over again. Discernment is a friend I want to keep around, always. I'm also thankful for trustworthy people who can advise me. An old proverb I love says, " In the multitude of counselors, there is safety." How true.

My journey in all of this is really about surrender. Am I looking for something from another person--be it my spouse, family or friends--that only God can fulfill, in my life? Am I hanging on to memories that interfere with my daily life? By holding on, I'm really choosing to miss out on today, and all the many good things that have been given to me. It isn't easy to forget... but I believe that I'm continually in the process of being redeemed. God isn't finished with me yet. My discontentment or that longing to 'be known' is really my heart wanting more of God...and how often do I try to fill His place in my life, with lesser things.

Every tree will produce after its own kind. You plant an apple tree--you're gonna get apples, not peaches...although that would be nice, wouldn't it? Check the fruit in your life. What is being produced? Am I governed by overall, positive emotions: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, etc. Or, do I have mostly negative patterns, such as depression, anger, control, manipulation, resentment, bitterness, etc. as a result of the past? For me, when negative patterns resurface, it usually means that I need to do some work: take the next step in healing.

Disclaimer: I'm not at all suggesting that a person can never have a bad day, or go through a season of difficulty. In this life, we will have troubles! That is a guarantee. But my experience has taught me that I need to take responsibility for my emotions and own them. They are mine--I can choose to live by them or take the words that I know are true and stand matter how I might be feeling, at the moment. Sometimes that means getting some help--realizing that I need others to walk with me in overcoming these kind of struggles.

When God speaks to me, be it in my heart or through the confirmation of another person, I've learned(the hard way) that it's wise to listen up. It's funny how the pieces can come together like that. I want more of Him, and less of me. I want to understand His character and not just ask for whatever my heart desires. He already knows my heart's desires. The choice is whether or not I will surrender those desires to Him and wait...or continue to go my own way. I would do just about anything for my kids, so long as it's good for them. I want them to have their needs met and hate the thought of something bad, ever happening to them. I think God feels much the same way, about us.

During Easter Sunday, our church decided to do 'cardboard testimonies' as a special element of the service(check it out YouTube to see how this works). I agreed to participate, among a dozen or so others. It was so cool to see what was written on every one's cards. Living examples of transformation, standing humbly before us.
On one side of my cardboard was written the phrase,"Broken Pieces". Then, I silently revealed the flip side, which read: "Restored to Wholeness". That really describes my life, in a nutshell. Although 'wholeness' may not be achieved, yet, in every area of my life--I know that I'm in process and have the faith to believe what Philippians 1:6 says, "...being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."