This morning was like any other. My son was playing on the floor at my feet, banging on a musical toy and laughing when it played the tune he wanted. It’s 7:15 in the morning, I’m standing at the sink rinsing out his sippy cup, occasionally glancing out the window to see if the cows are out and about in my neighbors yard. My thoughts are here and there- “What should we do today? How much longer do I have before his first nap? I wonder if Jason remembered that we have leftover blueberry muffins for breakfast.” (Judging from the empty cereal box on the counter- he didn’t.)
In the middle of all of these normal beginning-of-the-day thoughts, a memory pops into my head:
My sixteen year old self, lying in the middle of a living room floor, drunk out of my mind. My friends sitting around me, shaking their heads at how drunk I’ve gotten while downing their next Jell-O shot.
And just like *that*, the memory is gone…fading into my other thoughts about today.
This memory wild card game probably happens two to three times a day, sometimes more, depending on how I’m feeling. And every time one of them comes, I think “Where the heck did that come from?”
I’m not going to lie- they often make my heart drop a little, filling me with a sense of shame and embarrassment…I wonder if others around me can somehow see into my brain, and know what I’ve just remembered.
Can you relate?
We all have a past, some of us a more pleasant one than others. But we’ve all made mistakes. Sometimes they aren’t even individual mistakes, they’re shameful periods of our lives that we lived- the things we did, the way we acted, and how we treated others. It’s a period of time we wish we could just erase and not even be associated with.
I’d say from 16 to 22 years old was a completely shameful period for me.
But it happened. I lived it. I treated others the way I did, I acted in horrible ways and nothing can change that.
Yes, there is the generalized statement of “You can’t change your past” but I also must add- having these random thoughts is completely normal.
The enemy loves to distract us. It’s his best weapon. He has no new material on us, so he uses the old. Repeatedly, like a broken record. Because if he can’t get us to stop living happier, more peaceful lives, then he can at least distract us from it…reminding us we were once *that* way.
God knows our hearts, but the enemy does too. He knows what to put in our minds to make us stop and doubt ourselves. He knows our memories by heart, and the best times to use them against us. He knows that if he can’t make us let go of Jesus’ hand, then he can at least tag along on the other side of us…constantly whispering in our ear that we aren’t worthy enough, or that this new life is all a sham.
He knows these things. So, of course he’s going to use our worst selves against us.
I’ll say it again- the thoughts are normal. The feelings that come with them are normal.
It’s only when you allow them to change your present mood that it becomes a problem…because it is then that the enemy is succeeding.
You remembered a drunken night, it made you feel shameful, now you go about your day with less confidence, feeling unworthy…shut off from your spouse and child. That’s his goal. He wants to chip away at us, one emotion at a time.
He loves to remind us of what we used to be. And so does the world.
I remember, a few years ago, chatting with a high school friend for the first time in about five years. He was there on that same drunken night that popped into my head this morning. One of the first things he said to me was: “Remember that night? You were so wasted. You were lying on the floor in a skirt in a room full of guys…”
My pastor once said: “The world loves to label us by the things we’ve done wrong, the mistakes we’ve made, the disabilities we have.”
This is so very true. We even see this numerous times in the Bible:
“a blind man” – actual name, Bartimaeus (Mark 10: 46-52)
“Samaritan woman (by the well)” – John 4 (a promiscuous woman, who’d been married five times)
The “sinful woman”- (Luke 7:36-50)
“a prostitute named Rahab” – (Joshua 2)
Those are just a few examples. The world is the same today. You make a few mistakes, and all of sudden it’s become your new identity.
The thoughts will come and go, and the feelings with them. Know this. Expect this.
But don’t let them alter your mood or day.
When confronted with your wrong-doings, let them come and let them go. Like a wave…having no lasting effect. Don’t start a conversation with them; don’t let them seep into your present. Think the thought and be done with it.
I titled this post “Separation of Past and Present”, because I feel like it’s important to separate yourself from your old self. But we must not forget. As much shame and embarrassment as those six years conjure up, I never, ever, ever want to forget them. Look how far the Lord has brought us.
“Thus far has the Lord helped us” -1 Samuel 7:12
I pray you come to a place when you can start responding to the memories with this scripture. Let the shame come, wash over you and move on out. Expect the next one to pop up. Don’t respond to it. Don’t dwell. Simply say:
“Thank you, enemy, for reminding me how great my God is. Now if you’ll excuse me, He’s given me important tasks to do today…”
Prompt: What are some of the labels the world or enemy has placed on you? If you were to ask the people that love you most, what label do you think they would give you for the person you are today? What labels would you give yourself?
When you have a moment: Sit in silence, imagine your worst moment…let it come, feel the feelings, let it wash over you, and then let the gratitude seep in for who you’ve become today, for the person God is shaping you into.
I love you. See you next time.
If you are new here and have happened upon this blog- Welcome! Throughout the month of September, I will be posting on 20 different topics that the Lord has placed on my heart. The topics range from relationships to knowing our inner selves. From the importance of being transparent to recognizing the holy moments in our lives. These posts are meant to cultivate freedom and peace in your heart, mind, and relationships. That is my prayer for you, friend. Grab a cookie and a hot cup of tea and join me on my virtual couch. I’m so glad you’re here!