Photo at the Sea of Galilee. March 2016
You know how people say, “Stop living in the past!”?
I often want to answer back, “Ok. Show me how.”
Because as a woman in my forties I have just started to realize that I live my life combating, strategizing and manipulating against this pit in my stomach that tells me I am in trouble (or going to get in trouble) for something.
It’s like I am always flinching or ready to flinch at something.
I finally noticed it today. I received a text from my husband that was short and curt to which I responded in frantic texting fashion, “Are you mad at me?”
It took him a while to respond which did not help my anxious heart rate.
Finally he replied, “no, no, no baby.” This was the second time in 24 hours that I thought someone was mad at me, and it terrified me.
Why do I think this way? And why should it matter if they were mad at me?
I think it’s because I often got in trouble growing up and it often meant devastating consequences. I was conditioned at a young age that getting in trouble meant swift, unthinking, extreme physical consequences.
During those times I saw hatred in eyes that were supposed to love me and hands that were supposed to protect me, strike me with a ferociousness I did not yet know existed in the world. It didn’t happen all the time, but it happened enough to shape me into something other than what I was created to be.
Kids get hit for “being bad”, right? This was something I was being taught, that this was normal and expected. So why didn’t it seem normal? Because it was not supposed to be that way.
Everyone is flawed, parents included. I have forgiven and thankfully I am forgiven as well in my parenting. As you can tell by reading this, I am flawed. And I am a parent of a 24 year old daughter who is now also flawed. I am not here to blame anyone for their flaws. Their flaws came by way of the flaws of the generations before them as well.
So I was a shattered child who grew up with those pieces put back together the wrong way and, as an adult, had to hold those pieces together and not let anyone get too close and hurt me or it would all come crumbling down again.
I felt that if someone was mad at me that meant I was in for it somehow, someway. Since the time I was five years old this was what I knew to be true. I am now 43 and still strive to make sure no one is mad at me.
But oh, I could be mad at you. I needed to be mad at you because if I beat you to the punch you could not have that control.
I needed that control or else all would crumble, I thought.
When I stand next to people I unconsciously move the shoulder closest to them away so I’m lopsided just shying away from the closeness. I notice it in pictures sometimes too. It is obvious my past is still with me.
These parts of our past are probably with all of us to some degree. So now what? We have these strange ways about us, just trying to cope – trying to manage and survive the only way we knew how.
Maybe someone asks you, “I’ve noticed ______________ (insert strange coping mechanism here) about you. Why do you do that?” And it causes you to think about what you do and why you do it. Suppose you can answer the “why”. But now what? What can you do with just…information?
Because you have to stop living in the past at some point.
You have to acknowledge the hurt, right? You have to forgive, right? You have to move on and heal. So the big question of my adult life has been “HOW”? Because I want to. And you probably do to.
That’s been the journey I’ve been on for eight years now. Since July 30, 2009 when I gave my broken pieces to Jesus, and He took them. And I peeked around the corner to a different life.
I didn’t even know a different life was possible, but I wanted one. He delivered.
I have been writing this blog for three years now. My heart is still mending, getting stronger and more mature.
The recipe? The HOW:
God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit…and me. That’s the only recipe that will work to stop living in the past because God gives a future. He gave me one even before I was born and then it came alive to me when I was born again.
On this born again birthday I celebrate the freedom from my past and the gift of the present and hope for a future bigger than my imagination as my heart continues to heal to love people like God created me to.
With all my heart,
Zephaniah 3:17 .