When the Past Is Holding Onto You

It’s me Lord. I’ve been hurt.

This sincere, six-worded phrase is one that I find myself speaking in prayer over and over again. I have learned over the course of my life that in order to get through a situation, I must confront it. By confronting my situation, I mean bringing it to the feet of Jesus and letting Him take care of it. It’s not because I am easily offended, but this prayer is an overflow of feelings that emerge due to my past. Growing up, we experience situations and learn many lessons that cultivate us into the adults that we are. However, one very important lesson that we miss is the one about forgiving the past and letting go. We are frail human beings compelled by circumstances we have no control over and cannot change. Sadly, our future actions are governed by the hurts of our past, and we miss out on growing to the potential God has set for us. God never intended for us to be burdened by the things of the past because his blood covered that debt.

Often, consuming feelings of guilt, shame, sadness, disappointment, and hurt overcome me. At times, I must seek out the promise of a quiet room to let God help me through those emotions. These feelings have not arrayed from my own doings necessarily, but they are components of my past. More importantly, these feelings are chains that keep me bound to the past. Whether in church, or simply convincing yourselves, I am sure you have heard the phrase to, “let go and let God have control.” This is obviously the right concept, and one that is most effective in dealing with situations because we know that God will take care of everything. However, my imperfections wonder, “How can I let go of something that is holding on to me?” I do not ask for those feelings of hurt to arise, but they do. The feelings are as if I have been hit to unconsciousness and I am no longer in control. So, how do we let go?

Before moving on to the “letting go” phase, we must understand some truths that God fulfilled in our lives when He gave himself on the cross.

You Are Not a Victim

I know this sounds a little harsh. I am not in any way disguising or relegating your pain when I say that you are not a victim. However, we must stop victimizing ourselves. When we play the role that we cannot have a normal life because of what we’ve been through, we are putting the chains back on ourselves when God has freed us. It’s like picking an old wound that has healed. When we continue with the mindset that we are victims to hurt and pain, we are letting things that are not of God control us. We may have been victims to life at one point and time, but God has paid a price so that we don’t have to live in fear. A war is already waged. You are victorious in Jesus because he already fought your battle and won. You are not a victim anymore.

(Deuteronomy 20:4) For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

Your Thoughts Are Not Your Own

We must take every thought captive. Many times, my mind unremittingly reminds me of where I use to be. Your mind will remind you of who you use to be and where you have come from, but that is when we take those thoughts and give them over to God right then. We must control our thoughts and fill our minds with the things of God. Reforming our mindsets when we have already been molded by life is a process that only God can completely alter, and that is why we must trust him with our past. We cannot change our past, but we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds. It is perfectly okay to give God the same hurts over and over. He knows that we are weak at times; and the more we give our hurts to him, the faster we can relinquish our pain. You don’t have to live in subjection to shame and hurt.

2 Corinthians 10:5 — Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

(Philippians 2:5) Let this mind be in you, which is also in Christ.

(Isaiah 55:8–9) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

(Romans 12:2) And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Forgiving means forgiving yourself, too!

I am changed. As circumstances happened in my life, I felt my heart harden and form like concrete. I felt myself building walls to protect my vulnerability. Emotions were passive, and life was only black and white for me. I went from compassionate to cold and was led by my brokenness. The most destructive mindset I took on was blaming myself and others. Then, I isolated myself from those who truly cared for me. Forgiveness is an enormous process in letting go. In fact, forgiveness is letting go. Remember that you are a child of the king, and anything is possible with God. Pray every day for God to give you the strength to forgive and let go, and trust him to take care of it. If you are led by God, you will be a new creature and everything in the past will no longer matter; all things will become new.

2 Corinthians 5:17 — Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Paul says it perfectly in Philippians 3:12–16

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 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, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, a let us be of the same mind.

The Ultimate Love Story: Having an Intimate Relationship with God

“I have to go now,” I said the words, but my heart broke. The time was nearing. I didn’t want to let her go, but I had to do this… for her. “I love you more than the deepest of the ocean, and higher than the heavens. I’ll always be with you.” Tears fell from her russet eyes down to her chest like drops of spring rain falling from vibrant leaves. I pulled her close and wrapped her into my arms; I felt her sorrow with every beat of her heart. “Please, receive this book of my story. Let each morning bring you a word of my unfailing love.”

She took the book and traced her thumb over the gold bold letters. BIBLE. In this moment, she didn’t understand why I had to leave. But one day, in her pain and sorrow, she will. One day in her brokenness, or when she has made an unforgiving mistake, this day will be enough to pay her debt if she’ll adhere to my word. Most importantly, I hope she will know how much I love her.

In a modern day biblical movie, this would be how I would imagine a scene of God speaking to me precedent of making his poetically beautiful sacrifice.

~

Nicholas Sparks, author of countless beautiful love stories, portrays an idea of what people would consider the “ultimate love story” in several of his books — love, anger, hurt, betrayal, sacrifice, and everything that goes into making love come alive. I like to presume that God fulfilled the ultimate love story with me. I remember the numerous times that I’ve become angry at God, and the times I’ve had to work with him to overcome hurt and bitterness. Still, he pulls me close to tell me how much he loves me, waits patiently, and continues to fulfill his promises. What love is this, that he would do that for me? For someone so unworthy and undeserving?

But oh so dearly, God’s love is not solely for me. This is a relationship that God wants with you. Not only that, it is essential to our spiritual survival that we have an intimate relationship with the author of our love story. His love for us is so deep and intimate. Naturally, I can imagine that when God was ready to give himself as a sacrifice, his humanity shook. But because He loves us so graciously, He gave himself so that we didn’t have to live by the standard of our sin.

How can we have a close relationship with God?

An eloquent love story written in the 21st century portrays two ordinary people implementing an extraordinary action. The couple must overcome an obstacle that will enhance their love for one another. At times, the couple may stray; but once they overcome, their journey will continue. Similarly, God went through many hardships, pain, and suffering for us. He gave up his life to live a life with us. God’s sacrifice was extraordinary for us — the ordinary. We will fail him. There will be times when we stray. Life may not offer the Nicholas Sparks fairy-tale and you may not have your prince; but God, the author of our love story, will offer so much more.

“And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us; and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.” (Ephesians 5:2)

To build a close relationship with God, we need to first make him the priority in our lives. This means to seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). In accepting marriage, God wants us to know true love and to learn how to be passionate in loving others. More importantly, He wants to know that we will love him, because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). God wants intimacy with us, and desires a relationship much like our human connections. He wants to know our fears and struggles, our desires, our passions. He wants to know that when we wake up in the morning or go to sleep at night, he is the first and last person in our minds. How can someone be so intentional in their love for someone, who can go a full day without stopping and saying, “I love you, Lord!” Life is busy, but taking time to surround yourself with God is so important in walking in his will.

How can God become the center of your life?

For God to be a priority in your life, it means you must be willing to sacrifice a part of yourself. Various scriptures in the bible associate love with sacrifice (John 15:13; 1 Corinthians 13:4; Romans 5:8). Accordingly, in order for a relationship to stay abode and remain sacred, it costs a great amount of time, energy and putting someone else first — much like God did for us. I’m sure those of you who have been in a relationship know how much energy it takes. Frankly, my non-dating relationships take a great amount of energy, time, and effort. However, God desires that we love him enough that it is not a daily hassle to fantasize being close with him, holding hands, or engage in deep conversations with him. Take some time to develop your relationship with God — a few minutes opening up his word and hearing what he has to say. Study his word. Pray in your mind throughout the day because God is continuously thinking of you. What’s more, the Bible goes to say he is a jealous God. When we show our affection to worldly things, and our minds are faithfully dwelling on them, we are creating ourselves idols put before God (Exodus 20:4–6).

This is not about waiting in singleness or what to do when you are in a relationship. It is having a relationship with God before, during, and after those instances. Relationships will fade. Your time of singleness may come and go, but God will remain. His love for you will be there regardless of your sin or your relationship status. No one will ever be deserving of what God gives, but he loves us so much that he overlooks our imperfections. We need to build the foundation of our lives on God’s love and his promises. We need to be vulnerable with him, pure, and honest. Let him see who you are. Let him get to know you, because the “you” that he created is who he loves so dearly. When we commit to put God first, build a relationship with him, and trust our lives to him, he will guide us into being where he wants us in life; and one day, he may give us over to our human prince charming. But for now, let God be the one.

“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds. And that’s what you’ve given me. That’s what I’d hoped to give you forever.” -Nicholas Sparks