Forgetting…


Philippians 3:13-14 (TLB) – No, dear {Sisters}, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.
Forgetting the past… 3 very simple words. Yet; so very hard to do.
 Life is so full of experiences. I get a kick out of 4 year old’s who say – ‘back when I was little…’. Even at 4, we have a past. We have memories. We have experiences that shape and mold us into who we are today. Some of our experiences bring great joy, and some bring great sorrow. Some experiences we are proud of, and some not so much.

My experience as a twice divorced woman who ‘knew better’ has brought great struggle deep within my heart. I was raised in the church and by two very Godly parents. Jesus was real to me and I developed a personal relationship with Him at a very young age. I was blessed with a voice and musical ability, paired with my passion for Jesus which led to traveling and being used to lead others to Him in ministry. I desired to serve Him with all my heart.

 And then… 

The bottom of the world fell out from under my feet. I came home from being out ‘on the road’ in full time ministry for a year, which was a very surreal environment. To be surrounded by 6 other passionate Jesus lovers focused on the same goals 24/7/365 is just not real life. To be focused on my relationship with Him, and sharing that with others on a daily basis IN ministry is not real life to most. When I came home, it was tough to assimilate to ‘secular life’ again. I had been so insulated for a year. So safe. Isn’t it amazing how quickly we can go back to living life ‘comfortably’ and lose the passion and focus of our faith?

Here’s the Readers Digest version of the next 20+ years: I married at 21. Major red-flags. Did it anyway. Abused and miserable. Divorced at 26. Scared and alone. Shamed and guilt ridden. Ran away from him, and my home. Got pregnant and remarried at 27. 11 years later and with 3 precious children. Deep depression. Deep DENIAL. Curled up in the fetal position, I needed and wanted OUT. I was just so tired of pretending. Divorced at 38. Got into an extremely dysfunctional and emotionally abusive relationship with a man who isolated me from my family, my friends, my support system, and God. I call that time in my life my: temporary insanity. It truly was. When I share my story with people now, I refer to myself during that time as “unrecognizable.” It was like an out of body experience. I was utterly LOST.

Pretty ugly stuff. But…

Here’s the GOOD news friends: I am a new creation today because of one reason only: The grace and love of JESUS. Pure and simple. No other reason. I am happily married, healing, restoring relationships lost, and filled with joy and peace.

 And it’s ALL because of JESUS.

These verses in Philippians speak to me because, it is SO hard to let go of the past. It may be a recurring theme in my writings, as I continue to struggle to this day with it. So many regrets. So many hurts. So much pain for those around me. So much guilt and shame.

But here’s the deal. Every experience we go through, every action we take, every sorrow and regret we bear goes into the very substance of who we are. We are changed by every single event in our life. We can never go back to the way it was before. The past is part of us. And the memories of our past remain like scars. They may not be open wounds anymore, but they remain as reminders of where we have come from and who we are today, because of them.

Forgiving is one thing. But forgetting is another. “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead” is so important with dealing with our past. Honestly, I don’t think we ever totally forget our past, nor should we. But if we learn to focus on what lies ahead – the past dims. Remember, we’ve been changed by our past, but if we focus on our future, it allows our past to be used to glorify God. By focusing on the second phase, the first is somehow weakened and doesn’t hold the same power over us as it did before. It fades. Never completely gone. But it’s no longer the focal point. But possibly – the launching point.

 The question is: will we allow our past to be used in our future to bring Glory to Him?

God challenges us to move on from the past. Because if we don’t – we will not fully move forward with Him. Our past will weigh us down like a ball and chain. It makes us grow weary, and sucks the energy right out of us. It robs us of our confidence we have in Him, and the joy we have in His mercy, grace and forgiveness. It binds us in a prison of guilt and shame. And weighs us down to the point of paralysis. I’ve learned that if I am too consumed by my past, I am absolutely no good for His Kingdom.

Which – as I wrote about in another post, is right where the enemy wants us. He wants nothing more than for us to be stuck in our past mistakes. He loves to remind us that we are not good enough, that we have failed beyond repair, that we have no right to share our faith because we’ve messed up so much. That Jesus cannot possibly forgive “that” sin.

We cannot make progress in our faith without pushing beyond the mistakes of our past. No progress for His Kingdom can be made by a mind and heart burdened and heavy because of our past failures. It is hard. I get it. I’ve lived it.
 I love this quote: “If we remember our mistakes at all, let it only be to retrieve them, and organize fresh victory out of them.”

 Victory… I love that.

Is the race easy? Absolutely not. I will tell you, as happy and peaceful as I am today – it is still a daily struggle to not be weighed down by my past. It is so hard. It’s a constant battle to accept that Jesus loves me no matter what I’ve chosen. That He never stopped loving me. That He can make beauty out of disgusting ugliness. That He is not a grudge holder. He loves to wipe the slate clean. It’s a constant battle to replace the negative self-talk with who I know I am in Jesus. Redeemed and chosen.

I think, as Christians, it’s especially difficult to accept all of this, when we should “know better.” Before my life literally fell apart for many years, I was living so closely to the heart of Jesus. I only wanted to love and serve Him. It has taught me to never let my guard down. Because when I got ‘comfortable’, I felt the need for Him become less. And the less I felt that I needed Him, the more I made decisions and choices in my own will, and not His. It’s a very slippery slope and can happen in the blink of an eye. Be on guard and watchful. Satan is a very sneaky opportunist. He’s looking for the tiniest of cracks in our armor. I guarantee you – he will try to get in.

Do you want to live in victory? Have you ever felt stuck in your past like I have? We’re in a race ladies! Lace up those shoes, grab your comfiest workout clothes, and jump in. You’ve got THIS! Nothing is too big or too ugly for Him. Lay it at His feet today. Allow the scar to remain, and strengthen you to be bold in sharing YOUR story. In thanking God for YOUR story. In owning it, and using it for His glory. We all have a story – no two are alike. Allow Him to be the author and perfector of it.

 Dear Jesus: Today, I’m asking that YOU grant us grace and perseverance in this journey. May we be filled with YOUR presence and constant protection from our thoughts that can wear us down. May we be empowered to move on and embrace the NEW day with You. May we not forget the past, but not allow it to paralyze us. May we build on our experiences, in order to bring glory to You alone. May we not dwell in the darkness of guilt and shame. May we be bold with those around us who need to hear this same message of restoration and forgiveness. Thank You for transforming our lives. Thank you for the life redeeming blood You shed for each and every one of us. Be the author of our stories. Give us courage to share it. To not be ashamed and to live in victory every single day. We love You. Amen

Daily His,

Ally

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dailyhis

Happily, blissfully married to the love of my life. Waited 40 years for this man! ;) 3 wonderful children - I mean TRULY wonderful. 3 wonderful step-children now - thrilled to be in their lives! 4, soon to be 5 (gasp!) step-grandchildren! Yep! GiGi Ally! ;) Love it! Loving life. Pursuing JOY in every day living. THANKFUL for more than words can ever express... maybe that's why I started this blog! Enjoy today. Enjoy yesterday's moments. Enjoy tomorrow. But most of all: ENJOY NOW!

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