Friday, August 4, 2023

Can You Redefine the Past?


Reading through my Katherine Wolf devotional tonight and thinking, "Can I redefine my past?"

I really believe everyone else can redefine their past, but I'm not sure I feel I can - or have redefined it. I understand my past, but I still wrestle with it and wonder who that girl was.  I still don't see any "treasures or triumps" out of it.  Here is something Katherine wrote today:

"Have you ever wished you had a time machine so you could turn back the calendar a few years and change something? Take back those hurtful words? Escape that bad relationship? Pursue the career you loved?"

This paragraph totally encapsulates how I feel about my past.  I know I am a grown up.  I know I have to own my mistakes and the path my life took.  But I was raised under a very strong and opinionated Italian Father.

He judged.  He loved us, but he judged.  "Why did you walk in that way?" "Why are you looking at that career field?" "Why are you dating him?" "Look at this person and all their achievements."

Some of those questions are paraphrased, but you get the idea.  I was always less than in his eyes, or so it appeared.  People told me he loved me.  HE told me he loved me.  People told me he bragged about me all the time, but I never heard those brags.  He never shared positive or encouraging words with me.

I knew he loved me, but our relationship was one of me always trying to be better in his eyes or making life decisions to make HIM proud of me.

That constant nonspoken pressure led me to make terrible decisions along the way.  Decisions I still look back and shudder at.  I always wish I had a time machine so I could go back and go off to a four-year college instead of staying home and commuting back and forth to a local tech school.  I wish that time machine could take me back to getting married and being more mature, more supportive in my role as wife and mother.  I wish that time machine could take me back and erase some of the most painful parts of my life's journey.

Katherine writes:

"We may not be able to hop into a time machine, but you do have access to a bit of past-changing magic: remembrance. Remembrance gives us the grace of distance. Remembrance allows us to re-narrate past trauma or regret without denying the pain. Remembrance asks us to willfully and thoughtfully re-tell our good/hard stories with a bolded-underlined-all-caps emphasis on the hidden treasure and the triumph. We can see the thread of truth through the hard circumstances because we’ve been told the realest, deepest, truest story of all—the overarching Christ story that re-narrates death as the mere prologue to resurrection."

"Remembrance asks us to...retell our hard stories with an emphasis on the hidden treasures and triumphs."

I'm not there yet.  I'm not seeing treasures and triumphs from the hard parts of my story.

Are you?  Are you seeing treasures and triumphs from your hard parts yet?

I'm still looking back and shuddering.  Kicking myself for making terrible choices.  Carrying the burden of all my decisions on my own shoulders instead of giving some of that burden to those in my life at the time.

I'm still struggling with telling my story as a testimony and witness to help others.  I don't see the beauty in my hard parts yet.  I really want to.  I really want to be a stellar Christian with a stellar story.  I want to share my story and help others.  But I'm just not there yet, and I have to wonder if I ever will be.

Will God use my mistakes?  I'm not seeing it yet, and honestly, the older I get, the more secluded I get.  I get home from work and just want to exhale, enjoy the sanctity of home, and rest.  I don't feel much of a need to go out anymore.  I just like being home and enjoying the quietness of after-work hours.  I like working inside my home and outside in the yard.  And so, I just have to wonder.  How is God going to use me when I'm not the same "be at church every Sunday and every time the doors are open kind of person?"

Katherine concludes today's writing with this:

"What we remember teaches our brains what to expect. By remembering the past thoughtfully, we can anticipate the future with hope. The past is immutable; however, the way we engage the past now—in the present—is totally up to us."

"...remember the past thoughtfully; anticipate the future with hope.  The past is immutable."

I'm struggling with this Bible Study.  How do I overcome the foundations my Father instilled in me?  How do I overcome such disastrous life decisions of my past? I know God.  I know who He is.  I know He is capable.  I know He is God.  I know He can work miracles.  But I am struggling.

Today, I will keep praying that one day God will use the decisions and the path my life took to change other lives.  If you are struggling with your past decisions, we can pray together.  God is BIG.  God is GOOD.  God is a miracle worker.

Praying for those of you struggling today.  Praying also for myself and that God will take what is broken in me - heal it - and then use it to teach others...


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