Letting Go of the Past to be Able to Step Into God’s Purpose
I sat in shock on my front lawn in the snow in my pajamas watching a police car’s lights flashing. The police were called because of domestic violence in our home. It had been a blur of screaming, fighting, bottles being thrown, glass being shattered, as an explosion of pent up anger erupted throughout our home. Down came the Christmas tree, my sister’s face was mashed in the broken ornaments, while I stood there frozen watching other family members tackling each other on top of her. It was pure craziness. So, I walked outside and just sat down in the snow wondering how it all happened.
A day or so later, the mess was cleaned up and the incident swept away with it. The ugly monster of rage, hurt, and dysfunction were tucked neatly away from view waiting in the darkness to rear its face at some other unexpected time. I sat at the top of our hill looking out at the view and told a friend of mine, “The answers I am looking for are not going to be found here. The answers are out there, and I am going to find them.” I left home the next day, never to live there again. I drew a line in the sand, and went out to find the answers my heart was seeking.
When I got back to college, I sat on the steps of the courtyard and asked God, “Do You really exist? I need You to show me if You do, because if you don’t, I cannot go on another 18 years like the past 18 years have been.” I began my search for God and the help I needed. I started to check out the campus ministry and a couple of local churches. I heard about how people felt about God, listened to people debate philosophically about God, but I wasn’t finding the answers I needed to be free. After meeting with a pastor a friend of mine had highly recommended, I left feeling more condemned than comforted. I had opened my heart up to him about what I was struggling with and had just gone through at Christmas time, but he just told me my problems were stemming from not honoring my parents and said he would pray for me. As I left the church, I saw the Mental Hospital next to the campus, and I started to cry. I cried out to God again on my back to my dorm room, “I already know how &*^%@# I am! I need to know how to get out of what I am in. I don’t know how to change.” Tears were streaming down my face at that point because all I saw before me were two paths: suicide or insanity. “God I need You to show me how to get out of where I am.” That’s when I began to go a counselor on campus. When I told her my story and what I was struggling with, she promptly told me that I had “detached reaction” and set me up with a Masters student in Psychology for my counselor. I met with her twice a week for the next couple of months.
During my spring break, I went to visit my mom’s place. That was a big mistake because I stepped into another drunken night of domestic violence. After being physically assaulted by my mother’s husband, I was picked up by a college friend’s mom and brought back to her home. Once again there were no answers, or help offered me to recover from the violence and trauma. I lay there in a dark room feeling utterly alone, lost, and with no safe place to turn to, or place I could call home. I reached out to my counselor. The final blow came when she told me she couldn’t help me. My problems were too big for her, and recommended I seek out someone else. I walked away that day feeling like I was damaged goods that no-one could help. I felt unknown, unseen, hopeless, beyond reach, and all alone. “God, where are You?” I asked again, “I cannot go on if You do not exist.”
“And, there came my ‘how’ of getting out of where I was”
During this difficult season of life, a good high school friend was participating in a bible class that taught how to study the bible. God was preparing the answers to all of my prayers although I could not see it from where I stood. I had to go home to my dad’s house in June for a prearranged surgery. And that is where my story of healing and deliverance began.
It was a warm spring evening in June, when my high school friend shared Jesus Christ with me in a way that reached my hidden heart. Ironically, we were sitting in the same place on the front lawn where six months earlier I had been sitting in the snow in my pajamas. My heart began to soften and warm at the hearing of this man Jesus Christ who loved me so much that he laid down his life for me. He told me about how mankind got to the place of needing a redeemer, why Jesus came, and what Jesus accomplished on my behalf. Rather than my friend focusing on my sins, mistakes, and shortcomings, he remained focused on a Savior who came to die for me and was raised again for my justification. He shared with me Romans 10:9 and 10- “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God raised him from the dead thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
And, there was my “how” to get out of where I was- Jesus Christ. He was the way, the truth, and the life, and he was the way to God the Father. In that moment, I remembered how I had believed that very truth when I was 5 years old. I was sitting in my family room watching the movie King of Kings with my mom. God showed me right then and there that I had received Jesus as my Lord way back then, but was never taught how to walk in His Lordship. My friend went on sharing the gospel over the next few days with me for I could not get enough. I was a thirsty sponge soaking up everything he shared with me. At one point he opened the Bible and read Philippians 3:13-14 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press towards the mark for the prize of His high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” A piercing seared through to my hidden heart, passing through all of the numbness where nothing else would go. I actually felt something! “This is what I’ve been looking for!” raced through my mind as I turned to my friend and said, “I didn’t know you could read the Bible and understand it. Where did you learn this?” God was asking me to leave my past behind and follow Him into a new future. Stop dwelling on the past, and start looking to Me and I will lead you forward to a new plan I have for you.
My journey with God had begun in that moment. Although God cared very much about the trauma from my past, He knew in order to get out of the pit of my past, I needed to first let Him lift me up and set my feet on solid ground and onto a new path that followed His purpose for me. I made a lot of mistakes along the way, and made some wrong turns off His path, but through it all God has remained faithful to redeem my life. In this blog, I want to be real with you about my journey thus far with God. You will read about good and bad choices I have made. You will read about lessons I learned the hard way, and lessons that came with just doing life with God. I want you to see that the same God that has patiently worked with me and loved me through very step of the way, will do the same for you. You can show up in His presence as you are with all your baggage and He will be there to help you unpack it one day at a time. He will receive you with mercy, grace, and unfailing love. He will never tire of all you have to say, nor will He grow weary of listening to you pour out your heart to Him. He will never turn you away. He will receive you with open arms of love He will speak to you in a voice and a way that you will understand. He will show you that He knows you very well and has longed for your presence to let you know how very much you are loved.
“Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope
Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
God and I began a glorious adventure together as He led me down paths filled with new beginnings, opportunities for growth, and the restoration of my heart. I have sought God with all my heart and He has caused my eyes to see Him, my ears to hear His voice, and my heart to know Him. As He has navigated me through each season in life, He has healed my past while establishing my way in the present, and has given me joy in hope for a bright future.
God is the God of second chances. Call upon God, pray to Him for He is a prayer-answering God. As you seek Him, He will be found for He is already pursuing you!