Fighting the Past through God’s Faithfulness

Fighting the Past through God’s Faithfulness February 12, 2018

One of the many jobs I had while in college was as a nanny. One day I walked into my employer’s stunning beachfront home to find her sitting on the top of the staircase. Her hands were crossed over her legs and she had a far away look in her eyes. I said hi and asked how she was doing, wondering what might be wrong. Her reply went a little something like this:

“Laurel, have you ever been reminded of something from your past that you really regret?”

She paused for a moment before continuing…

“No, of course not. You’re too young.”

With that, she got up, walked down the stairs, and we carried on with our normal routine.

I wondered then, and I wonder now, what she was referring to. And I knew then, and I know now, all about regrets.

Who doesn’t have them? Even as a child, we might wish we hadn’t yelled at a sister, know we could have studied harder, or been sad that we disappointed a parent. As we mature, our list of regrets grows longer and deeper. Sometimes those regrets are related to sinful behavior. And the remorse should lead us to repentance – which leads to forgiveness and freedom. But whether or not our regret is rooted in sinful thoughts or behaviors, we don’t have to stay stuck there…thinking about it over and over, mired down in fear or shame. There’s a better way.

In the following brief expert from my 2017 book “Reclaiming Sanity: Hope and Healing for Trauma, Stress, and Overwhelming Life Events,” I share how we can reflect on reminders of the past as being a testimony to God’s faithfulness, rather than allowing them to consume us with anxiety or regret.

When people who have experienced something terrible, and they see, hear, taste, or smell a reminder of their bad experience, that sensory event can trigger negative symptoms, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Though these experiences can be traumatic in and of themselves, one is not left powerless and without options. We can choose to take an otherwise terrible reminder of the past and turn it into a monument—a physical place with significance—of God’s faithful presence. Monuments are all around us, and many exist that support the Bible’s historical accuracy. For example, in the 1990s, a broken stone tablet was found at Tel Dan in Israel with words that translated to the “House of David.” This was the first physical evidence that King David existed. While Christians believed in this featured Old Testament character, this was a reminder of how what God says is indeed true. We can also use physical items and places to remind us of God’s faithfulness. Instead of allowing these reminders to conjure up pain, have you considered creating them into new monuments that remind you of how far God has brought you?

In the book, I go on to share a few examples. But the way that I typically fight against bad memories getting a strong hold over me is by simply stopping and thanking God for what He has seen me through and for how far I have come. And when I am facing something difficult, I remind myself of how faithful the Lord has been to me in the past. He’s not going to stop now. Rather, I know He is going to keep on being faithful.

When your past is trying to weigh you down, like it did to my boss so many years ago, take a hold of it before it takes a hold of you. Stare it down. Refuse to get swallowed up in negative emotions. Stand firm in your identity as a beloved child of the King. And know without a shadow of a doubt that the words of Romans 8:28 are true – that in all things God truly does work for the good of those who live Him.

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