That can be a dangerous thing.
For some people, like the ones who grew up in Candy-land where it was all caramel, multicolored sugar drops and Reese’s cups (had to add that), it’s probably ok to step back (sans the havoc all that sugar did to their immune systems). For me however, and for many, many others, it can be hard.
I found my old mp3 player from eons ago. I plugged it in to charge, but I remembered it not holding and dying as soon as it was unplugged. Oh well. I went to finish cleaning out the drawer it came from. Suddenly this scratchy singing-in-a-tin-can sound starts playing from the headset. ‘Huh, cool’, I thought. It’ll give me something to listen to while I sort. And try to force/bang the bottom of the drawer back into the sides. It never stays. This is why when we build our house we’re going to do whatever it takes to get real furniture – stuff that stays together! (i.e. estate sales, garage sales, etc. You can find awesome stuff there!). Just no more stuff from Walmart. 😛
Old music Ryan introduced me to when we were dating came on. Wow. I hadn’t listened to that in years and it reminded me of when he first shared it with me, because it was for me. I smiled. Flashbacks of sitting on the couch with him. “This is for us” then playing Josh Turners “The Longer The Waiting”. More smiles. A sigh. A twinge of pain remembering how much I wanted to be around him, and how our circumstances at the time didn’t allow it.
I sat there on our bedroom floor and put the headphones on. Even tho it seemed so loud coming out of the earpieces while I worked, putting them on didn’t hurt my eardrums. 😉 I looked through my playlists and settled on a selection of favorites. Lots of old songs that I hadn’t even thought about since being in that dusty place in the past came on. I could sing through all the lyrics to most.
Then ‘Heal the Wound’ by Point of Grace came on.
Sometimes memories are jarring. Sometimes they startle you into silence. Sometimes they take you back, like flashbacks in a movie.
The back of a red shed. An old railroad sign. Fall leaves laying on the ground next to me. Tomato stakes sticking out of the cold, moist soil. Cement blocks stacked with weeds growing around them. Crisp fall air. Sunshine, kissing a wet face. Wind whispering through the woods behind me.
It all sounds nostalgic. But it’s not. There was no pleasure in those moments and I certainly wouldn’t want to relive them. It was the day my heart broke into a million, little, sharp pieces.
I had lost everything. I sat on that cold ground with my mp3 player, a pile of tissues and the jacket I managed to grab before trying to run from the past. I laid there. ‘Heal the Wound’ came on. I thought even God will never be able to heal the wound in my heart and in my life. But I played it over and over, crying out to God and pleading with Him to take it all away. Just make things better. The condemnation and isolation were unreal. Yet it was real.
I can’t tell you how much music has affected my life. I grew up wanting to be a Country Music singer. I knew hundreds of songs. Never, until that time, did God use it to speak to me. Mark Shultz’s “He Will Carry Me” came on. “I call. You hear me. I’ve lost it all. It’s more than I can bear…” God, I can’t bear it. I really can’t. I feel so empty.
Sitting there today, rehearing this beautiful, raw song for the first time in almost 4 years, I wept. Not only did I have flashbacks of that terrible time, and relived the pain as if it were still fresh, but I saw moments in my life since that point. And I cried and sang and smiled through the tears because truly through our weaknesses He is strong. Truly has He never forsaken me. Truly He carried me.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength
is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather
boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in
persecutions, in distresses,for Christ’s sake.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
God pushed me out of my comfort zone and into the plan He had for my life. There were many, many hard times since that point, but never have I been able to say with such a full heart – You have turned for me my mourning into dancing. Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever! (Psalm 30:11 & 1 Chron. 16:34) His mercy surely has been on my life.
I know I’m broken
But You alone
Can mend this heart of mine
You’re always with me
And even though I’m walkin’ through
The valley of the shadow
I will hold tight to the hand of Him
Whose love will comfort me
And when all hope is gone
And I’ve been wounded in the battle
He is all the strength that I will
And He will carry me
We each have pasts, most of us have points from them that can haunt us if we allow it. God wants us to stop focusing on, and even living in our pasts.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended;
but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and
reaching forward to those things which are ahead.
It took me these years to realize who I was to God. I am His daughter, His little girl that He delights in. The same girl who wants her own way, and tries to do things her own way, He disciplines and withholds things from only when it is what she needs. He loves her with all His heart, even tho she was filthy and nasty and cruel. There was only one way to redeem her, to allow her to be in His family. He had to send His Son, His firstborn. This Son had to plead her case before a righteous judge and then willingly lay down His life so that she could go free, and someday live in Her Father’s house.
God is ever faithful. I can go back over the memories from my past and tell you how, specifically, He worked in each situation. During that time, a couple who were close friends with my husband, who had no idea what was going on, were compelled to send me a card. There were few words but these from Isaiah:
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
I wept getting that card. (Yes, that was a time in my life that was full of weeping). I saw how God WAS in control of my life, and if I would just let go of my picture of how it was supposed to be, He would carry me. And He would help me, and He would uphold me.
Oh Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up. You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my laying down; and are acquainted with all of my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and have laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It is high, I can not attain it. (Psalm 139:1-6)
Those were a memory verse set I learned in a week. It reminds me how much God knows about me, how much He cares. He HAS hedged me behind and before. And that knowledge is too high for me to understand. It blows my mind and the gratitude I have for Him is uncontainable. It also just so happens to be from my hubby’s favorite passage, which I learned later.
I want to end with encouragement for any of you who have painful pasts: You don’t have to stay there. You don’t have to be a victim. Through Christ each of us are victors! Forgiveness, which is accomplished by understanding the gravity of what Christ forgave each of us from, allows us to break free from the past and the pain, and live now in the present as redeemed, joy-filled believers. He can make you whole again.
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them;
for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you.
He will not leave you nor forsake you.
I would love to hear how God has worked in your life. Please feel free to share!