“You are my Future
And my Past.”
– Future/Past by JohnMark McMillan
Today, after 3 years of suggestion from my counselor, I committed to reading the book The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Dr. Dan Allender. It’s causing me to go toe to toe with my past so I can fully embrace my identity as a beloved, passionate daughter of Papa God and all the blessings and joy and future that come along with that title. As Dr. Allender says, “The work of restoration cannot begin until a problem is fully faced” (p. 14). Well, I just moved to a new place, know no one, have no schedule, and am still job searching, so if there’s ever been a time and place, it’s the right here and right now. And it’s hard. Really hard. But not nearly as hard as living with this constant feeling of separation from my Papa or of shame that if people really knew me they’d all abandon me or of distrust in myself that I have changed or will ever be free from my old struggles/self. “The damage done through abuse is awful and heinous, but minor compared to the dynamics that distort the victim’s relationship with God and rob her of the joy of loving and bring loved by others” (p. 14). I’m sick of being secretly disgusted with myself and waiting for the next time I’ll screw up (or God will).
The other shoe is always poised to fall, and enough is enough. I’m too blessed destined to be held back any longer.
At this point, I have a workbook and two notebooks slowly filling up with thoughts, confessions, musings, and revelations, so certainly there will be many more posts of a similar nature, but this is what I felt released to share from today:
This song has been stuck in my head for days now, on repeat, to the point I had to acknowledge it as a meditation: “You are my First, You are my Last, You are my Future and my Past.”
At first, I thought this was because God hit me hard at Friday’s concert with the revelation that He is not only interested in/excited about who we are (in the present) and who we will be/what we will do (in the future) but ALSO He in/about who we used to be and what we’ve done…and what’s been done to us. Elementary concept, I know. But as someone with a past like mine that is a source of so much shame and guilt and desire to just forgive, be forgiven, forget, and “that’s not who I am anymore, I’m a new creation in Christ” it all away, this was stunning.
Jesus not only was there in every single moment of my past, with me and not against me, but He was also IT. He IS my Past. And if He is my Past, it is blameless, beautiful, and holy; I need to embrace it and love it just as He does. He sees the gold in it, already died for it, and gives it massive grace. I need to do the same, because I don’t see what He sees: how He’s going to spin the scraps of waste and hay into a golden destiny someday.
With this song and thought process swimming circles in my skull since Friday, it finally had a place today to land and attach. I’ve learned enough by now to know that when something seemingly simplistic happens to get lodged in there like this has, it is rarely happenstance or simple at all. Well, waiting for me in the book was the following:
“To be told, ‘The past is past and we are new creatures in Christ, so don’t worry about what you can’t change,’ at first relieves the need to face the unsightly reality of the destructive past. After a time, however, the unclaimed pain of the past presses for resolution, and the only solution is to continue to deny. The result is either a sense of deep personal contempt for one’s inability to forgive and forget…Hiding the past always involves denial; denial of the past is always a denial of God. To forget your personal history is tantamount to trying to forget yourself and the journey that God has called you to live” (Allender, p. 15).
I’ve spent years trying to be a new creation, trying to just be different and better and good. I have acknowledged my past abuses do contribute to present dysfunction and sins, but I reasoned this away with the flick of a “but if I am right with Jesus, I am new and don’t do these things anymore; I just need to be in Him and nothing else will matter.” And thus, an even harder fall when the inevitable happens – open wounds always drag us back to the point of brokenness. It is here where the Great Physician waits for us to stop hiding the hemorrhage, to stop scabbing and denying Him access. As long as I hide or justify or nurse my own wounds, He cannot bind up my broken heart.
I look forward to the day that I can truly say that my scars are continual songs of praise to my Savior. Til then, I’m gonna be a bloody mess awaiting redemption, book and pen in hand.