Healthy Focus on Past Regrets
- November 14, 2019
- Lori Travers
“Press on…forget your past…move forward…no use living in regret…it’s forgotten…”
I used to believe that if I walked with Jesus, I could just pretend my past didn’t affect my present. I thought if I was “born-again”, then my former life would have no hold on me and I would be free to live a life void of emotional struggle because Jesus “raised me to new life”…”the old is gone, the new has come”.
Sadly, I misunderstood the meaning of these verses which led to utter shock that I still had kneejerk reactions to words and actions that I felt offended by. Waking up with a forlorn feeling that something was wrong, general depressive thoughts, and anxiety that reared its ugly head when I would, say, drive my car, was equally shocking and quite embarrassing. I always felt surprised that I, a believer in Christ, would still struggle with a sense of insecurity and even fear of God’s abandonment of me. Why was I still struggling with all this stuff??
Reality is that our minds absorb our life experiences like a sponge. But unlike a sponge, memories contained don’t get wrung out. All memories are stored, and unfortunately the negative ones are stored, kept safe by our defense mechanisms, and triggered by any variety of stimuli. Christian or non-Christian. It’s all the same.
We’re told in Romans 12 to be “transformed by the renewing of [our] minds.” (vs.2) The rest of the chapter appears to paint a picture of what life could look like if we actually become a renewed human. Humility would come easier and our gifts would be expressed without a scorecards, constantly examining if we are measuring up, or worse, if others are measuring up to our standards. A healed mind would be one that is identified with “love” and not vengeance, one that is empathetic, and a mind that associates with the “lowly”.
The problem (as I see it) begins with our inability to believe we can call out painful experiences, sit in regret and self-hatred, while naming our sin as well as our victimization and still be ok. No, be better than ok…be healed and well and whole! But it is true only because the love of God is truer than any experience we have ever lived through.
So what does this look like in real life?
Can I submit to you a piece of my own story? It’s really not that scary, but our protective devices make us believe that the danger is worse than the deliverance. But that’s simply not true.
Recently I decided it was time to go back to counseling. Not because I was losing my mind (maybe others around me would disagree with that assessment), but because I was ever so ready to deepen my healing. As I sat in the uncomfortable place of naming my issue…admitting it…taking responsibility for my part…looking deeply into the face of ugly…guess Who met me there? Of course! JESUS. But not just some ethereal bible fantasy character. The Healer met me. The Counselor met me. The Lover of my soul met me. And do you know what He did at the point of my angst? He showed me His love and forgiveness. When I choose to trust Him with my pain…even if I think it’s too bad, too far gone, just plain too sinful for Him to love me through it…His love runs deeper still.
But I believe we need to take ownership of traumatic experiences that have been stuck inside our psyches for God-knows how long. There’s a thing that happens when the tragedy is met with Majesty. Ultimate healing takes place because Jesus’ presence changes our perspective on a memory. His kindness reminds you of who you really are and not what the experience told you about yourself. This may sound elementary, but it is life-altering goodness!
I’ve been walking through (and sitting in) some pretty intense memories lately. It’s been hard and I’ve wept and my own foolish choices, but also, the thoughtless choices of others. I don’t believe it’s necessary to uncover every stone, but I do believe it’s important to bring these experiences out of hiding for the purpose of finding that our good God knows all about it already, and He is just waiting for us to trust Him in it.
I could quote huge portions of scripture to support this stance. But more importantly, I need you to know He is safe.
“… prepare the road!
Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”
15 For this is what the high and exalted One says—
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly…
18 I have seen their ways, but I will heal them;…
Peace, peace, to those far and near,”
says the Lord. “And I will heal them.” (Portions of Isaiah 57:14-19)
Friends, His desire is for your healing, but never for your hiding.