Painful past can still mean a healing future

Ever have one of those times when there’s a message you’re receiving that you just can’t escape even if you wanted?

On New Year’s Eve, I had one of those moments. I had been missing my Celebrate Recovery meetings of late but I was determined to make it to the New Year’s Eve event. There was going to be a special group service then a fellowship time instead of small groups.

There were multiple points to the message shared that last Friday night of 2010, but what hit me the most is that you can’t move forward if you keep looking back. There are many things that can keep us from finding healing from life’s hurts, habits and hangups but one of the biggest is not letting go of what happened in your past to cause so much pain.

Those who know me know that 2010 was a rough year. One of the worst I’ve experienced in a long time. I lost my job at the end of 2009 and had to welcome in 2010 by standing in the unemployment line for the first time in my life. A few months later, I had a bad misdiagnosis and came close to almost dying because of it. The rest of the year was filled with more struggles, heartache and frustration.

Through it all, I’ve known God was in control but sometimes what was in my head didn’t always make it into my heart. My husband and I have been determined, however, to make 2011 a better year.

But determination and a better year don’t erase the pain of the past, do they? It doesn’t matter how sugar-sweet your Pollyanna outlook is, that just doesn’t work.

The truth is, I can’t erase what happened. But I can learn from it. I can grow from it. And more importantly, I can move forward by taking my experiences to help others. Not only what I learned directly, but letting God shape me into being a more compassionate, loving and giving person.

So back to what I was saying at the beginning, when God was really trying to hit a message home. A few minutes before the Celebrate Recovery group session started, I checked the volume on my phone and I admit, checked Facebook. Here’s the message I read in the form of a status update from my friend Heather:

“Our scars tell us where we’ve been…they shouldn’t tell us where we have to go. Don’t allow them to hold you back in 2011. They are simply reminders of the things the LORD has brought you through!”

Wow. And another confession: there were a couple of times that I wanted to get a mental break from the impact of the group session message so I went back to Facebook. There was that darn status message again!

I sat up and paid attention.

So instead of reviewing my New Year’s blog from last year (here’s a hint: I didn’t meet any of my three goals), I’m going to just focus on 2011. There are no resolutions, no specific goals of weight loss or some other self-help.

I’m leaving myself open to what God has in store. He’s already proved himself faithful this past year. He kept me safe during my illness, he taught my husband and me to use our heartache to strengthen our marriage and he provided me with a part-time job where I’m treated with more respect from co-workers than I’m used to, quite frankly.

I want to spend this year growing in my trust and love of God and of my husband. I want to start healing some hurt family relationships. I want to take my hurts, habits and hangups and use what I’ve learned from those scarring experiences to help others.

No matter what happens in 2011, it’s going to be a good year. God is in control and I’m excited to see what he has in store.

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