I slammed the door, with tears burning in my eyes. I didn't want to hurt anymore. My life. My family.. the way of life and the people I had known, all flipped around. In a stressful season of my family's business falling apart, my family had become strangers to me; hurtful, lashing out kind of people that couldn't contain their hurt. I had dodged cutting words and flying objects aimed at me.
And my heart.
The physical would heal. The slashing words... lingered.
I didn't recognize my parents or my brothers anymore. All that I had known of what a family was and the love between members had disintegrated. Yet, it hadn't always been this way. My childhood had been happy, relatively. At this point in my life, my family equaled violatile. And all I wanted was either peace... or escape. A chance to recover from the slings and arrows. As down-trodden as I was, I promised myself, at that young age, that my own family would be different. The first half of my life, up to this point, had been much more secure than my teen and college years. In my 16th year of life, my family seemed to implode.. and they would continue to self-destruct over and over and over until I left that home when I was 22.
These years changed me. Scars ran deep and insecurities crept up into the recesses of my mind.
The past can haunt. It can keep you mulling over the woulda, shoulda, and couldas. It can replay memories best left alone. It can taunt and ridicule. The past, if given too much attention, can whisper in our ear all of our failures, our worst moments, and our hurts. In fact, it has the ability to take a once scabbed over wound and make it come to life - bleeding, throbbing and raw as though the injury had just occurred.
I remember moments in my past that I'd gladly like to forget. Times when I wish I could have a do-over. I certainly can remember times when pain had been inflicted on me by others who were hurting.
Of course, not all of our past is bad (I hope). For some, the only happiness they find in the present is by re-living good moments from the past. Replaying good moments when life was happy and everything seemed to just click together.
There is danger in both mindsets.
One mind doesn't let go of the hurt, and is wounded over and over. With each replay of a past hurt - done to us or a regret - a wall is built - stone upon stone - between ourselves and others. Ourselves and God. With each rewind, we deny God's power and ability to forgive the past. With each stone laid, we CHOOSE to let the past reign in our hearts; we let that somehow, in some twisted way, be our comfort and companion.
Logically, we know it's ridiculous to cling to pain. But, we do it. We cling to the anger it stirs and let the roots of bitterness grow so deeply that it becomes the only life we know. You know what I mean...
Hurt first... before someone else hurts you. Always on the defensive. Always thinking that someone is out to get you; that when another brings hurt to your doorstep... it's intentional.
But isn't this exhausting? Aren't you tired of crouching in a defensive posture? It takes so much more energy to hold on to the anger, the bitterness, the hurt... that it clouds our ability to see our present. This weed of bitterness...this plant chokes out the good God is sowing in your heart.
The other mindset is so distracted by the "glory days" - when our marriage was sweeter - when our children were tender - when our family functioned well - when finances were in order - when we were happier - more popular - confident, that we are robbed.
You see, comparison is the robber of joy. Living in the past is comparing your present life with your old one - and the present has been found wanting. And God has a lot to say about looking to the past...
* “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." - Isaiah 43:18-19
* "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." - 2 Cor. 5:17
* "Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." - Phil. 3:13-14
* "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." - Eph. 4:31-32
We were not called to live our life in the past - reliving moments that make us blind to the God-given blessings, opportunities and challenges of today.
Let it go, my friend. Hand over your past - the good, the bad and the ugly to the One who promises a full life, now. Forgive where forgiveness is needed. Let go of the things that really don't matter, in the end.
Release the grip that past hurts have on you. For the final time - today - drag that heavy burden that you've been carrying around to the foot of the cross, give it to Him... AND LEAVE IT THERE.
Don't reach for it again. Aren't you tired? Heavy-laden, with all of the past hurts and regrets weighing on your shoulders?
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." - Matt. 11:28
He gives you rest. Peel back your hands that are firmly laid on the past and give it to Him. Don't let one more day's joy be stolen. Don't let the burden of the past rob you or destroy you.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. " - John 10:10
Only 2 short years after that season of tumultuous family life, my mom passed away unexpectedly. My dad followed two years after her. In those months before both went on, forgiveness flowed freely. Wounds were healed and while that time of my life will always be marked with pain, I am no longer a slave to the pain and hurt.
And when thoughts, insecurities creep up in my mind, I try to hand them over to God. He battles the thief on my behalf. For me, I let go of the past so that I may receive the joy, the blessings and the new opportunities that God has set aside for me.. today. Now.