One night, I was hanging out with my friend David and he asks this deep, profound question:
When does the past becomes the past?
We work with youth, so we hear all kinds of stories, all kinds of hurts, all kinds of issues and situation that seems to hold our kids. So when he asked this question, I knew exactly where his heart was going.
Essentially, with that thought, I ended up with more questions.
When does our past loses its power over us? How come, who we were, always has to creep back in and dictate who we are becoming? What do we have to do so shame no longer has its grip on us? Why does our hurt always affect us in someway, shape or form? How can we step in to what God is saying and actualy believe who He says we are? How come I’m stuck here and I can’t seem to move there?
These are gut-wrenching questions. And it’s not just our youth who are dealing with it but all of humanity as well.
When does the past becomes the past?
Here’s what I realized:
The question about our past is really a question about our shame.
It’s shame that holds us in our past.
It’s shame that gets us stuck here and renders us immobile to move there.
Shame makes us fearful. Shame causes us to hide.
Shame breaks our connection with people.
It becomes the lens in which we look through and view the world, God, our situation, our circumstances and even ourselves.
It forces us to say, “I’m not enough,” “I’m not worthy of love”, “I don’t belong”, “there is no hope”, “I’m an outsider”, “I’m alone.”
But then again, when it comes down to it, the question about shame, becomes really a question about our identity.
Who am I?
I believe, deep down inside each of us, there is a desire built in us to live a great story. A story that causes us to get excited when telling our friends, family or even a stranger. So when mistakes, hurts, pain, disappointments and wounds, becomes part of our story, shame is the voice that’s shouting in your head that says your life is a waste.
But what one thing I’ve learned about people who had gone through pain, hurts and with the deepest wounds and yet still live with a sense of worth and love and belonging and hope; they embraced their pain as being part of their story. When they did, it became the birthplace for healing.
So the short answer to the question my friend asked that night is this:
Shame only has power over us when we try to separate our past from our story.
The truth is what happened to us in the past was the reason we are where we are at this moment at this particular time in our life. When we embrace our past-our hurts, our wounds, our pain and everything that has happened to us, either by us or others, it’s only then that shame loses its grip on us. And the thing about shame is it only increases in solitude, secrecy and invulnerability.
But openness to your hurt is to find healing in your transparency.
When you own your story, your pain, your hurts, your wounds, only then will you be able to step into who you are becoming. The blows that have been inflicted to us by others and even ourselves, then, becomes a beautiful part of a painting in the canvas of our lives.
This is only when the past becomes the past.
Let today be the day we stop letting us and others paint a portrait that is not in the Father’s Eyes. Let us let go of the paintbrush and let Him continue painting what He is saw in us from the beginning. Let us step into something new. Let us begin to live a better story. It’s like when a caterpillar finally breaks through the cocoon and fly as it was created to be: A butterfly.
“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead…” -Paul, Philippians 3:13
PS: David never got to hear my answer because he fell asleep. I thought this information was relevant for me to say because now it has become a beautiful part of this post. Thanks David.