Making Peace With The Past
I always chuckle a bit when I hear someone say they are on “the struggle bus”. Seems like an understatement to me. The truth is looking back, I don’t think anyone’s year has gone as planned. We all seem to have been reluctant passengers on the bus to perpetual struggle this year.
Recently, I was reading a magazine article that said, “God is the God of the past, present and future.” It made me think of the scripture that says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Today, we remember 9/11. It certainly was a day for which no one was prepared. It was a difficult day for New Yorkers. We know first-hand the horror of that fateful day. We remember like it was yesterday. I remember well the sheer terror. Not knowing what was happening or where family members and friends were as the Twin Towers were burning.
For some, today is just another day. Many wake up not realizing the significance of this day. I can remember answering the phone early that morning. My sister was living in Seattle and her voice was terrified, asking if I had put the news on yet. I did not. I was happily making breakfast for my daughter and myself.
Being caught unaware was so jarring. We sat shocked, unable to speak. Our brother worked in the city. I didn’t hear from him right away. I wouldn’t hear from him until later in the day, when he was walking with thousands of other New Yorkers to the bridges or seaports. Fellow citizens were using their privately-owned boats to ferry people across to safety to New Jersey.
When we remember such traumatic experiences, we can’t help but feel the pain of those moments.
I have another memory. It is the night Hurricane Sandy came through our area. We were driving in the rain, being rerouted due to downed trees, power lines and flooding. My husband and I looked at one another after being frustrated street after street, thinking we were not going to make it to his father’s house. My children sat in the back of the van with our dogs, everyone silent in fear.
In the devotional, “Overcoming Tough Times”, I read that,
“Some of life’s greatest roadblocks are not the ones we see through the windshield; instead, they are the roadblocks that seem to fill the rear view mirror.”
Many times we find ourselves allowing painful memories to consume our thoughts, stealing our present as well as our future. Some of us simply can’t seem to let go of our pain and we relive it over and over, constantly coming to the same impasse.
Thankfully, God has other plans. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” He has plans to prosper you and give you a hopeful future.
The Apostle Paul describes the need to reach toward the future, forgetting the things which are behind, looking forward to those things which are up ahead. Philippians 3:13-14.
We forget that God has always known what was coming up ahead. He is never caught by surprise. I take great comfort in knowing that He knows and I place my trust in Him having my best in mind, regardless what is happening. I choose to place my mind on things above. Not on the things of this earth and that God has a future ahead where He will bring some good out of present circumstances.
Why is it so difficult to focus on the future? Partly, it is due to focusing too intently on the past. Oftentimes we allow anger, bitterness, unforgiveness or hurt to build up into regret. Worrying about our present or future will never change what is or what is to come. But what we can do is accept what was and realize that those experiences are gone.
Placing our trust in God, turning to Him when we have fears and questions and when we are weak or discouraged fills you with His love and grace.
Believe me, I know this is hard work. It isn’t something that is easily accomplished. But if you have had a difficult past and do not learn from it’s lessons, you will feel as if you are driving in circles up and down the same streets, never arriving at your destination.
The devotional states, “Give all your yesterdays to God, celebrating this day with hope in your heart and praise on your lips. Your Creator intends to use you (and your past) in unexpected ways if you will let Him. But first, God wants you to make peace with your past.”
Once we make peace with our past, we are freed to then become fully engaged in the present, enabled to build a better future.
“If you are God’s child, you are no longer bound to your past or to what you were. You are a brand new creature in Christ Jesus.” ~ Kay Arthur
Here are some Bible verses to cling to when you are dealing with painful past memories.
Isaiah 43:18-19, “Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”
Colossians 3:3, “Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life.”
My favorite devotional is written by Oswald Chambers and he said this, “God can transform (your past) into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ. Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.”