Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Redeeming the Past

There are some memories that we lock away in the deepest part of ourselves. Memories too dark and traumatic to ever see the light of day, so we ignore them, push them a little deeper into ourselves and hope that no one can see. Hope that no one will ever guess that this one moment captured so pristinely in our minds but so carefully concealed touches every part of who we are, influences every decision that we make, and haunts even our happiest moments, stealing its beauty.

All of us have a memory like this, a childhood trauma – a death, a lose, abuse, or maybe even something we have done in our weaker moments. It is our greatest shame, and our deepest hurt. It seems as if our lives are divided as to what came before and what comes after. And while we may push it aside, it waits quietly in the wings waiting to leap from its rickety cage and destroy all that we have tried to build.

We try to deny that this one moment has become our defining moment. We tell ourselves that it had nothing to do with our choice to take the safe route home, avoided that relationship, or picked our college major, but it did. It always does.

We hate it for that reason, not just for the pain that it caused in that instance, but for every time we bow before it as if it happened earlier this morning. Knowing that our odd choices and decisions can never be fully explained, even to those who love us, because then we would have to admit what happened, share with another that piece of ourselves that even we can’t love. So we hide, hide from those who love us, hide from ourselves, and hope to God, He really can’t see everything.

And that’s the problem, we know that at some point, somewhere, someone is going to see right through our fa├žade, and it scares us to death. So we live our whole lives afraid, afraid and angry. Hoping that our anger, our shell of self sufficiency, or self sacrifice, is enough to keep people just far enough away we will never be forced to deal with the issue we refuse to admit exists.

And that’s the problem, it is all about ourselves. We try to fix it alone in the dark. We hope that another self help book shoved under the edge of our mattresses will hold the key, help us create another or better cage. We think that we need to take care of this our self, that it only affects our self, and that it will all be okay with a little more self discipline, self punishment, self mutilation. Anything, as long as we can keep any one from finding out.

I can write this way because I have my own stock pile of memories, things that I did, things that were done to me. I know firsthand how they cripple us, eating away at our hopes and dreams, preventing us from reaching out to help another because we don’t even feel worthy to do that. What I did or what was done to me, doesn’t matter. Fill in the blanks with your own list for now, and perhaps one day, over a cup of coffee, I will share.

The point is the particular memory doesn’t matter. It never has. All that matters is it was enough to leave a mark on your soul. And as long as we make it our life’s goal to cover up that mark, we are denying the power of God to redeem all things to his glory. Oh, we can say we have great faith, live a life that seems to demonstrate our maturity and dependence on the Lord, but it’s all a lie and we are living a faithless life.

So how do move into a life that declares that God is faithful and capable of redeeming anything that we freely release to him? We learn how to stop hiding. We find people we can trust, and we tell them our story – every horrifying detail. We tell them the worst of what have experienced, the worst of what we have done, and we stop trying to control the consequences. We let God take care of that.

I won’t lie to you. It is the scariest thing you will ever do. You will feel bare and vulnerable. Your voice will give out, and you will convince yourself no one will ever love you if you say a word. Your head will feel as if it is going to split open like an overripe melon, all your ideas spilling like rotten pulp onto the ground. It will hurt. You will be able to feel the memory being extracted from your being, like a colossal splinter leaving your heart, and somewhere along the way, the nausea will set in. And the voices in the back of your head, the ones you have relied on for so long to keep you safe will tell you to run, not today, do it later, you need more time.

The thing is, our God deserves the highest honor we can give him. And like so many God things, this one seems so backwards to our human minds, so we give him our worst. Our worst moment, our worst pain, our worst shame. It makes no sense but this is the beauty of who He is. Because this amazing God takes all of it and redeems it, turning it into something beautiful and amazing. Our stories are transformed, becoming the reason to praise, becoming the promise of hope for others who once thought they were alone. And as we experience His healing, it our story, our testimony that becomes the means through which we participate in His redemption of not only ourselves, but the world.

No comments: