The past. One of the most powerful weapons satan has to use on us. He takes us down the paths that we have already walked and reminds us, in the wee hours, that our shortcomings and failings are always just a thought away. He reminds us over and over of things we have said, wished we had said, hurts we have caused and the ones that we carry. He tells us that our mistakes are never forgiven and urges us to not forgive. But what he doesn’t remind us is that the past is the past. What is done is done and cannot be altered. It is what we do from this point on that makes or breaks us. We can hold onto the hurts and injustices, the pain and the memories or we can break free. He only has the power that we give him when we embrace the twisted thoughts and memories that surface when we are most vulnerable. If we embrace the misery that he offers, then our chances of overcoming what we perceive as the most embarrassing or painful moments of our lives become less and less likely. But there is hope for everyone who is suffering from having a past, and that list would include every human being. Even the tiniest baby will, if they live, have a past. There will be lost tempers, hurtful words and actions, pain and heartbreak. It is a part of being human and living in a human world. The world around us is as unforgiving of us as we are to ourselves. It is beyond our own capabilities to outrun the past… and satan knows this and will gleefully use it to keep us from moving forward. Each of us has a purpose in this life, a reason to be. Everything that happens to us as we travel through this journey of life can be either a stumbling block to ourselves or it can make us stronger and more able to recognize the warning signs in others of the effect of their real or perceived imperfections and insecurities and enable us to lift them up. Jesus was perfect. He had no imperfections and for some, it is impossible to imagine a perfect person. Someone who has no regrets or things they wish they hadn’t said or done. I have a life full of things I wish were different and, in the dark hours of night when I begin to relive those moments, my strength begins to falter and the darkness becomes heavier as I remember all that cannot be changed. It is then that the Holy Spirit reminds me that what is past cannot be changed. Rectification, reconciliation, forgiveness… they can all be given, but forgetting what we have lived, well that is a different story altogether. The things that we have done, said or survived are all part of what makes us into who we will become. Whether we use the past for harm or good will decide how we will relate to other people and how our actions will alter their lives. It is not easy to overcome a past full of pain, and impossible to do it alone. Trust in the One who understands suffering, who understands what it is like to be alone and abused, to be wrongly accused and tortured, both physically and mentally. Trust that what you have survived will make you stronger and that you will go forth in hope. It is these things I focus on when my own darkness threatens to overtake me and smother me with all that I cannot change. When I need comfort, I know where to find it, but self-suffering and guilt-enabling get in the way. The light that I know is there could shine through if I let it, but at times when I cannot seem to get past the moment, I refuse it. But the gentle prodding of the Holy Spirit continues until my defenses are broken and the fog lifts. I always look forward to those moments and delight in hearing the song that my God sings over me. And during these long nights when all the things I dislike about myself manifest themselves into the demons I fight, I know that I do not fight them alone. And therein lies my comfort. Because no matter where I have been or where I will go… no matter what I have said or left unsaid… irregardless of how often I try to handle things myself, He loves me anyway.
Matthew 11:28 ~ Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest