Have you ever stopped and wondered how your life would be if you had made a different decision in your past? If you had never experienced the heartache of falling in love, only for the relationship to end in divorce. If you never experienced the turmoil of watching the business that you had put all of your time and money into collapse before your eyes. If you had never made the decision to trust that person who stabbed you in the back? “If only I had known, I would’ve done differently.”
However true or untrue that statement may be, the reality is you cannot change your past; but how you choose to view the challenges from your past is entirely up to you. You can continue to go through life wallowing in self-pity, replaying that mistake, trial, or incident over and over again in your head. You can also decide to totally ignore it by burying that moment in your past so deep down inside as if that incident never really happened. I can tell you from experience that neither one of those ways are effective. Self-pity leads to stagnation or regression and unaddressed issues from your past will always manifest itself in other unforeseen ways that usually result in further pain. Instead, I encourage you to look at what happened in your past, and consider it a part of your maturing process, as a part of your growth, as a part of your journey.
“Well, that’s easy for you to say Jocelyn, but you don’t know what happened in my past. My past is too terrible to find anything good about it.” And my response to that is, you are 100% right. I don’t know what you have gone through. In some cases, I know some of you have gone through some horrific challenges in your past, that was not the result of your decisions, but the result of what someone did to you. I wouldn't dare insinuate that the pain from your past is not real, and that the process that you will have to go through to heal from moments like that won’t be one of the most challenging things you have to do in your life. But even with that being said, I still believe you have a choice to make.
You can choose to let your past define you by paralyzing your growth through self-doubt, fear, anger or guilt; or you can choose to say “My past was painful, but it is not who I am, and I’m not going to allow it to control my future. In fact, I’m going to take what the devil meant to destroy me, and I’m going to use it as an opportunity to punch the devil right in his face by using that part of my story for good.” The bible says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I have seen that to be true for even the worst situations. I realize that is hard to accept when you are going through a difficult time; and in some cases you might feel that God failed you by allowing what took place to happen. But one thing we must remember is God has given every person on earth free will, and we live in a fallen world. So it wasn’t God’s will for you or someone you know to be abused, cheated on, or victimized in some way as the result of another's malicious or ignorant behavior.
In some cases, moments like that can be described as nothing less than life-shattering, and can leave a person believing that there is no way they will ever be able to get through this. However, I will tell you that even in the midst of great tragedy and pain, we can still find hope in God. God wants you to experience healing and a joy that can only come through faith in a savior that died for us 2,000 years ago. In order for us to experience that, it will require us to take action. For you, action might be seeking help from a trusted friend, counselor or a support group to help you keep moving forward, for others it might be sharing your testimony with others at church or even in a book, so that others can be encouraged by your testimony. Whatever your action may be, the steps you take must always move you forward. God knows your past, knows your mistakes, knows who has wronged you, and despite all of that still has a plan for you. So be encouraged today, and always remember that God never promised you that this journey of life would be easy, but God did promise you to remain with you on this journey and at the end of the day, that’s all you really need.
How has God helped you to get beyond your past? Help someone else, by sharing your experience in the comment section below.