Lots of people have suggestions about what you should do with your past. Most ideas sound something like this:
- Don’t bring it up; why reopen old wounds?
- My future is ruined because of my past.
- I keep track of how others treat me so I can do the same to them.
- Focus on what is working, not on what is broken.
- Don’t cry over spilt milk.
- Suck it up.
Some of these statements have an element of truth, but ultimately every one of these approaches will take a toll on you and your relationships.
Before I was a teenager I endured some very difficult experiences (not from my family, gratefully; they are and have been wonderful). I kept those experiences hidden for at least 8-10 years and carried the shame with me as a teenager.
When I finally let someone know what had happened, I was more relieved than I could have imagined.
Throughout the years since then, whether through friends or relatives or counselors, I have unpacked those experiences and dealt with them, each time gaining greater freedom. Up until a week ago I felt like I had dredged all of the available wisdom and healing from those experiences.
Last week, however, God showed me something in those tough experiences that I had missed. I was blown away at how one detail of those experiences had made its way into deep parts of my life without me even knowing it.
As soon as I realized what God was showing me I felt freedom and rest enter my soul, freedom and rest I did not know I needed.
If you are human you probably have had many painful experiences and carry around numerous wounds, some which you probably do not even know you have.
Here is my advice to you:
- Don’t be afraid to go there. When you air those wounds and experiences you will ultimately find healing in your present life.
- Pray. God will shepherd you through your past if you let him. Remember that he was betrayed and mistreated beyond our comprehension, yet he was able to rise to a completely new life. You can rise, too, with his help.
- Find a safe friend or counselor. If you need to talk, carefully choose someone rather than talking about your pain with every person you meet.
- Trust. The pain of re-opening old wounds is worth it. If you are truly looking for healing and restoration for you and your relationships, go for it.
- Let go. If you have done all you know to deal with your past, let it go. This is easier said than done, I know, but with God you can do it! If there is more to be done, God will bring you to that point at the right time.
- Keep short accounts. The best way to avoid a painful past to live a healthy present. Confront issues instead of skirting them. Forgive everyone. Love unconditionally.
I am still learning, but God continues to prove that he can revive the tired areas and heal the broken parts in me. I know the same is possible for you.
How have you successfully dealt with your past? What experiences do you need to re-visit for your good or the good of those around you?