We cannot escape it.
As much as we don’t want it to, our past follows us. It shapes who we are, and it can positively or negatively shape who we become.
But, we do have a choice in the shaping.
I don’t mean deny what has happened, ignore it or push it aside. I mean look at it straight on and choose how it will shape you.
I have looked the past in the face and let it shape me. I let it shape me so much that I took on the image of it.
I let the past define me how it wanted to.
The problem is the past isn’t always good. And, try as we might to fight it, it is the bad and the ugly of the past that screams the loudest and demands the greatest square footage in our souls.
The good is rather polite and noncommittal as it steps aside and lets the bad take over.
Weeds grow, flowers get choked out.
And before we know it, we are getting choked, too.
In my case, the past ate me up from the inside out.
I let the pain, hurt, sadness, and self-pity settle inside of me like a poison creeping slowly throughout my entire body.
It was as if, I looked at the past in the face and stated,
“Okay, you want to take root here inside of me? You want to set up camp? You want to make me your home? Okay, I’ll let you.”
Eventually, the poison spilled out of me to the ones I loved.
A new marriage, sleep-deprivation as a mom of two young children, the stress of Air Force living – it was all too much to contain.
The hurts and pain of the past were taking up too much of my time. I couldn’t hold it all.
My voice would raise, my words would sharpen, a child would be hit in anger, a dog would be yelled at, a husband would be disrespected over and over again!
Yes, I was sad! Yes, I was hurting inside! Yes, I was angry! Yes, I was grieving…deeply. No one could feel what I was feeling.
But, in time, I realized that despite all of that, it was not okay to use my grief and sadness as an excuse to sin against others and God. I was destroying the ones I loved with my hurt, pain, grief and self-pity. I wanted them to tolerate me without a fight, because,
“Look what has happened! I am hurting. Too bad that your feelings are hurt. Just deal with it! I am hurting, and it’s okay that I hurt you. I AM HURTING! CAN’T YOU SEE THAT?!”
Over and over I heard from the one I loved, “Jana, you cannot treat us this way. It is not okay to hurt us like this. I know you are sad, but you have a choice of how you are going to deal with this.”
I didn’t want to hear it. For 4 years, I didn’t want to hear it!
“Didn’t they care how much I was hurting?”
That was the battle on the inside. On the outside, all others saw was perfection.
Perfection. I worked really hard at it. Until I couldn’t any longer.
“What are these women going to think? When I am honest with them, when telling my testimony, what are they going to think?” I can hear them saying, “I thought she had it all together.” Boy are they wrong. I am a mess. I am ugly inside and dark and in so much pain. I am tired of pursuing perfection! I am ready to be honest with myself and honest with God.
It took me four and a half years to make the choice to address my past and say, “I am not going to let you define me anymore!
I accept what has happened. I grieve what has happened. But, enough is enough! I am ready for flowers to grow in my soul once more.”
Admitting that was the beginning of my healing. Making the choice to not let the grief, sorrow and self-pity define me anymore was my first step towards redemption.
I accept my past – the pain, the hurt, the self-pity, the anger – it all got me here.
This may sound crazy, but I am thankful for the trials I have been through, even for the deep loss and pain of grief.
I would not be the person I am today, nor would I love the LORD as fully as I do had I not gone through losing my brother to suicide.
Because of God’s mysterious ways, I feel more alive today, more joy-filled, more satisfied than I ever have, ever!!! For that I am profoundly grateful to my Redeemer and Savior Jesus Christ.
I promise He can and will do the same for you. You have a Choice.