In our post Trusting God in the midst of suffering, we talked about trusting God during painful experiences in our lives. You may be in that place right now, where you feel completely numb, where the pain is so deep, you cease to feel. If this is you, then take a look at the post here and be encouraged that God is with you and will never leave you.
Unfortunately, the reality is that often after experiencing hardship for whatever reason, we carry the pain, memories and shame of our past for long after the season is over. Most of us have experienced affliction at some point during our lives, some more than others. Whether it is a single event or a prolonged season of trials that have produced these deep wounds, the long-term effects can be crushing. The negative beliefs that usually come with it, if not addressed, can take root and control our lives.
It’s true that we can’t hurry God, He will do things in His own time. There is certainly a period of time needed for healing and processing as God molds our characters, but it can sometimes be that we are standing in the way of healing when God was done with us long ago. We think it is God when actually it is us.
How will you allow your past to define your future?
Perhaps the past situation was beyond your control or maybe it was a consequence of your own error. Over and above the pain, regret from past mistakes can make us feel unworthy of living worthwhile lives or of love, much less, of being used by a Holy God. The enemy loves to build on this by fuelling our negative beliefs, that way he can prevent us from living the abundant and productive lives God wants for us.
Our past hurt or failure becomes our identity. The biggest challenge many of us face, is not our current situation but the damage from the past, which can, in turn, compound the current situation. Much of the stress and anxiety we live with now is due to negative thought patterns ingrained in our minds and behavior.
I can tell you right now, that it doesn’t have to be that way. You have choices and the power is within you to control your thoughts and subsequent actions. You can choose to live free or you can choose to allow past hurts to poison your thoughts and beliefs.
Making your past hurt count
The writing of this post was prompted by a book I read recently called “The Choice” by Dr Edith Eva Eger. She was a Holocaust survivor who eventually went on to become a Psychologist where she was able to help many patients suffering from post-traumatic stress. As a result of her own experience, she was able to reach into the minds of people who had endured intense trauma in their lives. It wasn’t an easy journey for her but she got there eventually and she made her experience count.
There are many other people I know of, who have similar testimonies because they chose to turn a bad experience into something good and not become victims of their past. They chose to live abundantly and so can you.
My famous mantra, it’s not what happens to us, but how we respond. Life experiences are meant to strengthen us not break us down. It is what we do with it that counts. An important aspect of having peace and freedom is to deal with past hurts and disappointments and understand also that others are dealing with theirs.
If you haven’t heard it before, Kintsukuroi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer. The belief is that the repaired piece of pottery is stronger and more beautiful than it was before. The same analogy can be applied to people.
The repaired cracks are proof of fragility and resilience and are what makes the item beautiful. They are not something to be hidden and ashamed of, they are what makes it unique. To live the Kintsukuroi way is to embrace every flaw and imperfection that makes us, us.
Making way for God to lead you
Isaiah 30:20-21. “Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.” (God is teaching us through our life challenges and the lessons will be revealed if we open our eyes and ears.) “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’” Listen carefully and be obedient to His voice.
It is up to us not to block out the voice of guidance and reason with our own calls of distress. Inevitably, it will delay the learning and healing process. Contrary to belief, God is not only there at certain times, He is with us always, no matter what. God will always have His way because He loves us and He knows what is good for us.
Lamentations 3:32-33 “Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.”
We can become so stuck in a muddy pool of self-pity and battering, that these words fall on deaf ears. Don’t stand in the way of God’s plan. Being stuck on past hurts and trauma leads to stress and anxiety and further unpleasant consequences.
God is with you all the way
There is enough evidence in the Bible to tell us that God is fully aware of what we are going through. He will not allow us to suffer unnecessarily, that is not His will or His way.
If we adopt the right attitude and trust God, we can see that He is alongside us through the whole process. If we remain unforgiving and/or fearful, it will only make things worse. Choose to do the right thing, approach it with prayer and believe that God will do the rest.
Believe me, I speak from experience
I have experienced this enough times in my own life to know that the Bible is speaking the truth. As tough as things were in my past, I realize that it was a necessary part of my growing and learning and I am better for it. Learn from the challenges and make your experiences count. You will find you open up a whole new world of blessings and opportunity.
Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
There is a well known clip of the comedian Bob Newhart as a psychologist, telling his poor patient to “STOP IT”. Hopefully, nobody does that in real life! What this does highlight though, is that living with anger, regret, blame and unforgiveness can become a habit. We become comfortable in that emotional zone because it is familiar.
It is time to “Stop it”. Break the cycle of revisiting the past and believing the same lies. Sometimes we need to be broken down completely in order for God to restore us, for it is only in the miry trenches that we learn humility and how to truly surrender to God. Brokenness is key to ultimately finding true peace and contentment, we are not meant to stay broken. Allow the restoration to happen.
I am going to do one up on ‘Bob’ and say, don’t just stop it but “MOVE IT”. Do you remember when the Israelites were in the desert? They stayed there for 40 years, walking around the same mountain because they couldn’t follow instructions. It is not merely a case of stopping wrong thinking, we need to move forward with positive beliefs and right thinking. The Bible has plenty of advice on how to live abundant, righteous lives.
Some people are better at overcoming and moving on than others. This may be partly due to personality, but also has a lot to do with surrendering to God’s will and instruction. It is amazing when we choose to surrender, how the Holy Spirit moves within us to restore peace. Before you pray for a change in circumstance, pray for a change in attitude.
When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, He forgave her instantly and told her to go on and live her life, sinning no more. He didn’t tell her she would suffer for a long time as a result of her past mistakes. Just like that, she was done and dusted.
Living abundantly after heartache and hurt
It may not feel as if God is with us during these trying times, but the Bible promises us that He never leaves nor forsakes us-ever. We may not sense Him or hear Him because our own thoughts, guilt, condemnation and emotions are standing in the way. In order to live free, we need to lay down our own thoughts and beliefs and replace them with the truth of His word.
A painful experience may become a driving force of motivation, which can be positive or negative. Use the drive and determination for doing good things, for yourself, the world and others. This is God’s will.
Don’t mistake memories for feelings. When it’s over, it’s over.
Prayer and Praising God
Always give thanks and praise to God, no matter the circumstances. Grow stronger in faith as you give glory to Him, for you can be fully convinced that He is able to do what he has promised. It is at times such as this that we may truly experience the Power of Prayer.
People get angry at God because they believe He allowed something to happen. The Bible warns us we will have trials and for the most part it is our own doing. An arrogant attitude of judging and blaming God is a dangerous place to be in and for this, we will be held accountable. The most important thing is our relationship with Him. God will use our hurts to bring us closer to Him, to mold us, use us and prepare us for works in His kingdom. That is what we are here for.
Negative thoughts can separate us from God at a time when we need Him most. In the midst of your hard times say, “Jesus thank you that you are with me and that your steadfast love never ceases. Praise your mercies that are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.”
Ask yourself honestly if you are you holding onto old hurts which may be hindering you in any way? Acknowledgment is the first step on the road to healing. Sharing the details of the event are not enough, you need to talk about your feelings.
If it is a serious trauma or you are afraid to confront it alone, please reach out to a trusted friend or counselor and ask them to walk alongside you. God will do the healing, but raw emotion can be overwhelming.
If you need prayer, somebody to chat to or advice, you are welcome to:
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