Put Your Baggage Down!

For some time now I have been contemplating how connected healing is to willingness to forgive the source of abuses and painful memories.  The more that I think about their connection, the more that I believe that healing is actually contingent on forgiveness.  If I had not come to a place where I could conceive forgiving the ones responsible for the pain and painful memories – I don’t believe that my heart would have been truly in a place where it could be healed completely.

I have talked with my husband Tim many times about the journey of healing that God is walking with me.  I have said so many times that I wish I could identify steps for people to begin taking so that they too can be on the road to healing instead of stuck in the past – stuck in the pain.  But I couldn’t really identify exactly how or when I began this journey.   I just realized one day that I was walking this road named Forgiveness and that the longer I chose to stay on this same road, the easier the walking became.

Tim’s message this morning was really awesome and was based on the text Philippians 3:10-13.  “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  (Emphasis mine)

Tim also used the text Matthew 6:33 ”But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

As he was delivering the message, realization began to flood into my mind and at last I understood how and when my journey started.  When I began to focus more on knowing and pleasing God (straining toward what is ahead) I began to forget what was behind me.  When I began to care more about what I did with God in my life and what God wanted to do with my life – I stopped looking backwards and focusing on the pain that was inflicted on me, on the old wounds that still often festered and infected every part of my life.

Please don’t misunderstand me here.  My memory wasn’t wiped clean.  I didn’t suddenly have a case of amnesia that allowed me to forget all of the bad times in my life.  It was more like a choice that I made, with God’s help, to move the magnifying glass from the dark times over to the good things in my life.  Instead of dwelling in the dark memories I began walking toward new memories – toward what was ahead.

Tim said this morning “The spiritually hungry aren’t hung up in the past; they are anticipating what God has for them now and to come!”  Bingo.  I got hungrier than I have ever been in my life – I was desperate.  I started looking at God instead of looking backwards and suddenly the past began to grow dimmer and dimmer.

He also pointed out that it is vitally important to forget our past identities and move forward.  This particularly struck me…  That would mean that we also have to forget the past identities of those who have abused us or hurt us and move forward.  That is powerful.

If I can’t forgive the abuse and hurts of the past, I cannot move forward.

If I am not constantly straining toward what is ahead by moving forward in Christ, I am bound to look backwards.

We all have baggage in our lives from one thing or another.  Whether yours is/was abuse, financial distress or whatever your baggage may be, God is saying to stop looking at circumstances, stop looking at the past and look at Him, the One who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.  He is inviting you to walk closely with Him looking forward and never backward.

So put your baggage down
there is rest and healing in this place – in Christ.

Rest for the weary

Don’t spend another moment looking into the past and dwelling on the pain that lives there.  Allow God to come to you and flood your life with love and peace and joy.

Thanks for the message honey, once again it got me thinking about how to do things better/differently; it got me thinking about straining for what is ahead and forgetting what is behind.

I have a song floating through my head this afternoon.  I don’t think that it will ever cease to be true and that is okay.  “He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be.  It took Him a week to make the moon and the stars, the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.  How loving and patient He must be…  He’s still working on me.”  43 years and counting…

I would love to hear your thoughts…  Something that you have to say might help me or someone else on their walk to healing, please leave a comment below if you are comfortable in doing so…  If you would like to contact me directly/privately, you may do so by emailing me at krislukings [at] gmail [dot] com or through Facebook using the link to the right.  Any personal messages that I receive will be kept in the strictest of confidence.

Forgiveness Is God’s Specialty

I was going through my notes in my MySpace account last night and found this one that I had written after talking with a friend who was unable to forgive themselves for their past. I immediately had a sense that I needed to share it, but I was nice and cozy in bed and my Ipod just isn’t the best place for me to do such things so I decided that I really didn’t need to worry about it. Turning back to the book I am currently reading and what are the first words I read as I turn the page – the same as the very last words in my rambling below. So maybe someone needs this today.

March 17, 2009 – Tuesday

Forgiveness is God’s Specialty
Current mood: blessed
Category: Life

I have made a whole lot of mistakes in my life. Things that haunted me for years and years, things that kept me awake at night and drove me half crazy.

It seemed to me that no matter how many times I tried to commit myself back to God, these things would play themselves out in vivid colour every time I tried to sleep.

One sleepless night, as I lie awake beating myself up over my past, God spoke to me very clearly. I almost felt as if I turned around, He would be standing right there… He whispered to me so gently and said, “Who are you to not forgive yourself when I have forgiven you?”

It was a bit shocking and humbling. God had sent His only Son to die to cover my sins and for me it was as if that wasn’t enough. I was still holding a grudge against myself.

I won’t say that it was an instant change, but I realized after His words that I can’t hold on to that stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I still would go back and change so many things if I could, but that is not an option.

My only option is to commit myself to Him daily, live an upright life that is pleasing to Him, doing all things to for His glory.  Allowing God to make you into a new person requires learning to forgive yourself. People are relational. I can relate to others more easily if they have gone through or are going through things that I am familiar with. If I cannot forgive myself, how can they see the amazing grace and mercy provided by the blood of the most Holy Lamb of God? How can they see that their sins can be forgiven and that they can have a new triumphant life in Christ if I couldn’t when we share the same (or similar) pasts?

Let God give you heart knowledge of what forgiveness is – let Him show you what freedom feels like. He has already paid the price for our freedom, don’t let it be a waste – grab hold and never let go.

Forgiveness of someone who has deeply hurt you can be difficult but certainly not impossible. But something that most people don’t realize is that forgiveness is a choice. There is only one person in this world that I have forgiven thousands of times over, sometimes it is easier than others, but I choose to continue to forgive them – endlessly. Choose to forgive yourself, even if it means doing it continually. You will find that if you lean on God, He will help you to grow and prosper in that freedom and those times when you have to remind yourself of forgiveness will become less and less.

Do you trust Him? Trust Him to carry you through. When things happen to torment your mind over past sins, remind yourself that you are covered by the precious blood of Jesus.

I love this song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xUK2Dx5RkY) because I have learned at the first hint of the tormentor showing up at my door, to sing the second verse. I am suddenly saturated with that reminder that God does not see those things anymore and if he doesn’t, why should I?

Look at the story of Saul, when God made Himself known, Saul never looked back – only looking forward toward walking in God’s will for his life…

Forgiveness IS a choice. Will you choose to forgive yourself?

Have You Ever Felt Like A Fraud?

Boy I have.  All of my life, as far back as I can remember I was afraid of being found out.  You see, I have never felt like I was good enough for anything, literally – nothing.  In school, I was never one to have very many close friends and I still find that to be a struggle all of these years later.  It has just always been hard for me to show someone who I really am.

I learned several years after graduating that many people thought that I was a ‘snob’, that I thought I was too good for most people.  I cannot tell you how much that stunned me…  When I questioned the person who revealed this to me explained that I wasn’t easily approachable and I was very difficult to get to know.  Wow – that is so not who I was and I had no idea that was the face that I was presenting to my classmates.

Scared Child at Nighttime

The way that I remember it was once I reached Jr. High School I felt so lost.  I was afraid of absolutely everyone, afraid that they would figure out that I wasn’t good enough to hang out with them or even be seen with them.  I was afraid of my own shadow, afraid that someone would not like me if they got to know me, afraid they would make fun of me for something.

I remember once trying to emulate my older sister.  She was popular, smart and well respected.  I felt like such a dork compared to her…  One day I overheard several people complimenting her on an outfit so I decided that I would borrow the same clothes (down to the shoes & socks people) within the next few weeks.  I figured if I could imitate the way that she dressed it would make me feel safe from anyone deciding that they didn’t like the way I was dressed for at least one day.   So feeling more comfortable than usual I arrive at my locker and while gathering supplies, it happened.  One of the very people that had so complimented my sister was having a field day criticizing me for the very same clothing.  “So now I know, it was just me; there was something wrong with me…”  That was my first thought and then all of the other ‘I am not good enough’s’ started playing in my head.

I am wondering now in looking back if this was the moment that I really bought into those thoughts.  Was this when I started allowing myself to begin accepting that I just didn’t measure up?  Oh, the thoughts had been there before but now I felt that I had confirmation.  So when the tirade started, I just agreed and decided that if they didn’t want me to fit in I would stop trying.  I believe that was the final straw for me and I started to feed on those thoughts and almost no others.

The list goes starts like this:

  • You don’t fit in there, it is easier to not even try
  • They won’t like you, keep your distance so you won’t get your feelings hurt again
  • You aren’t good enough to have that kind of friend
  • Your aren’t smart enough, skinny enough, strong enough, talented enough, pretty enough, nice enough etc. etc. etc.

The list seemed endless and hopeless.  I wondered what was wrong with the few good friends I did have.   I was always racking my brain to see what their angle could possibly be…

I have been out of high school for 25 years and until recently I was still buying into those lies and many new ones associated with my life now.  You know, “you don’t have a job because you are useless, no one wants to hire someone like you, you don’t fit into that ministry/group/company” etc. etc. etc.

Until recently I believed that they were my own thoughts and further reasoned that if that is how I saw myself, I didn’t want anyone else to see me for myself.  It was just easier to keep my distance.

Until recently, even when I accomplished something, was recognized for doing anything well or was just plain recognized for anything at all I just wanted to hide.  I didn’t like the spotlight because it might shine enough light for someone to figure that I am just a dumb, scared little girl who is just not good enough for anything.  Then they would know that I was a fraud pretending that I was actually good enough.

So what is happening that is causing me to change?  Why don’t I feel so much like a fraud anymore?  God has been shining His light onto the truth and onto the lies.  He is on a mission to show me who I really am and I am absolutely loving it.

No more do I have to worry about someone seeing that I am not good enough because now I know that I am!  Now I recognize that all of those thoughts that I used to have, you know, the ones that say I am not good enough and that someone is gonna find out – they are not my thoughts after all.  I now recognize them as lies from the enemy of my soul.  Lies to destroy me, to make me ineffective in whatever God calls me to do.

So now when that endless list starts I know that it is no longer hopeless.  I can refute everything that it says to me by using these scriptures and many more:  Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  How cool is that?  I am God’s masterpiece – YOU are God’s masterpiece.  If that wasn’t enough, try 2 Peter 1:3-4 on for size “As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness!  And by that same mighty power, he has given us all of his rich and wonderful promises. He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in his divine nature.”

I read this quote the other day and I love it.  It made me look at what I am afraid of a bit more closely and realize that I have been playing it safe for all of my life.

“Our deepest fear is NOT that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, WHO AM I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in SOME of us; IT’S IN EVERYONE. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” — Nelson Mandela

I am a child of the Most High God and I am most certainly GOOD ENOUGH.  I won’t ever let me or anyone else say differently again.

Have you ever read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31?  It basically says that God chooses the foolish, the weak, the lowly & despised and the things that are not to nullify the things that are.  That means that He chose me precisely because I am not a perfect and spotless person.  He chose me because without HIM I am broken, I am a mess, I have no talents and nothing to offer this world.  He chose me so that I can glorify His Holy name by following Him.  I don’t feel that I have done a very good job of that up until recently but it is not the time to beat myself up about lost time.  I spent too much time doing just that – crying over spilt milk instead of cleaning up the mess and moving on.  I declare that I will glorify His name for the rest of my life with every opportunity.

Can I just tell you that I am so excited?  I am still praying for and desperately needing His leading but He is showing me things left and right about the truth of who I am.  I don’t know where He is leading me but I am so incredibly excited about following Him there one stepping stone at a time.

I would love to hear your thoughts…  Leave me a comment below or send me a private message to the email address in the photo badge to the right of this message.

Stepping Stones at Gargrave

Image via Wikipedia

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