Have you ever been accused of ‘dwelling on the past’? I have…more times than I can remember.
“Forget about it”.
“Get over it”.
There are some people and things I Hope I will never forget.
Simply because we remember the past, doesn’t mean we are a prisoner of the past. We do ‘move on’ in the sense that we continue to move forward. It’s impossible not to. Though our heart may feel frozen in time, we do continue to grow, to learn, and to build.
What I won’t accept is being told I need to forget the death of my son. What I won’t accept is that I should forget the past abuse I endured. There is nothing ‘bad’ that has happened in my life that hasn’t taught me something, that hasn’t somehow produced something good…eventually. Why should I forget the ‘ashes’ and only embrace the ‘gifts’? Without the ashes, I would have never received the gifts. The ashes were the soil that nourished the potential growth in the present, and which propels me forward into the future.
Years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I was working as an on-call counselor at a treatment center. One of the requirements of my job was to submit myself to on-going training. For me, personal experience is the best teacher. I could read a hundred books on a subject, yet never fully comprehend it without experiencing it for myself. It’s similar to the difference in looking at pictures of the Grand Canyon, and actually being there. There is no comparison. Reality has far greater impact.
One of the workshops we were required to attend was a week long, 9-5, co-dependency treatment session. It was a time of ‘getting real’ in a group of strangers. I don’t recall all of the steps involved, but I do remember the last day. We were all seated in a circle and took turns sharing our feedback on another’s progress which we had observed from day 1 through day 5. The gal that was selected to give me feedback was a dedicated ‘new-ager’. She began to tell me how much she admired me for all that I had endured in my life. I had an unexpected response, unexpected for me and everyone else in the group. I became angry. This gal, for whatever reason, envied my pain. Irrational? On the surface, seemingly so. In my anger and rejection of her coveting my pain, I essentially told her that it was MY pain…and she couldn’t have it. In reality, what this gal had observed unknowingly is a strength God had given me that had sustained me through it all. It wasn’t that she wanted ‘my pain’; it was that she coveted the pain because on a level she herself could not identify, she saw the ‘gift’ God had given me that was only possible because of the existence of the pain.
For the first time, I embraced my pain. It truly was a moment of release. ‘The Truth had set me free” (John 8:32). I ‘owned’ my pain…it was MINE! I no longer rejected it. I no longer ran from it. I no longer denied the reality of it. For the first time, I became aware of the gifts it had given me. It caused me to go deeper with my God. It caused me to cry out to Him and become totally dependent upon Him. It strengthened my Faith and deepened my appreciation for His Love.
The past, our individual ‘past’, is the foundation of our present and our Hope for the future. The stronger our roots are in the past, the stronger the tree that develops in the future. We cut off our roots, and the tree weakens or possibly dies. Those roots are the source of life. No, I don’t have to put my head in the sand to keep peering at them to insure the growth above. At the same time, I won’t forget their existence and neglect to water them either.
A very wise woman once stated:
If we reject our past, we reject the very foundation of who we are today. I cannot be ‘me’ without embracing all that has made me ‘me’. All the scars, all the broken bones, all the parts of me that are ugly and worn, are what makes me ‘me’. I am one of God’s unique snowflakes. He created me and loves ‘me’. Should I tell Him that He made a mistake?
Isaiah 45:9-12 (NLT)
9 “What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.
Does a clay pot argue with its maker?
Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,
‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’
Does the pot exclaim,
‘How clumsy can you be?’
10 How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father,
‘Why was I born?’
or if it said to its mother,
‘Why did you make me this way?’”
11 This is what the Lord says—
the Holy One of Israel and your Creator:
“Do you question what I do for my children?
Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?
12 I am the one who made the earth
and created people to live on it.
With my hands I stretched out the heavens.
All the stars are at my command.
(((HUGS))) Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at: Xulon Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and DeeperShopping. Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/2017/03/the-pain-of-holidays-after-the-loss-of-loved-ones/