#BreakingTheCycle: The Defense of the Past
The past is the past…right?!
Well, kinda sorta.
Whether it be in real life or a movie, we’ve heard someone utter the words “the past is the past.” And whether it be in real life or a movie, we’ve probably given that statement some serious side eye (with a sprinkle of deep sigh). Because even though the event itself may be over, those remnants still linger rather vividly at times.
So what are those remnants? I mean those flashbacks that make the past seem like yesterday. I mean those spurts of overwhelming emotions that don’t seem to get easier. I mean those anxiety-riddled thoughts that have us replay situations over and over again in our minds as if we’ll get a different outcome. I’m referring to those remnants.
Now, I know that past events can be either positive or negative. I’m also a rather optimistic person, so I would never just focus solely on painful experiences as if happy times didn’t exist. And the thing about past experiences, good or bad, is that they build a map for how we live life from that point. The deeper the experience, the more tightly we hold on to that newly created map.
Here’s what I mean by that. If we face something that is fleeting and not too personally connected to us, we may pick up a point or two, but not change anything too drastically in our lives. Conversely, if we encounter something that shakes us to our core about what we believe in life, we tend to change our thinking and actions radically from that moment. Those shaking moments could have been moments of unspeakable joy or unspeakable pain, but they stuck with us all the same.
Before you keep reading, I want you to take a few moments and think about some of the moments that have shaken you the most in life. Just two or three are fine for right now. What was it about those moments that stuck with you?
I might be on an island by myself with this next thought. But even with all the amazing things that have happened in life, there is something about the more painful events that try and take center stage in our memories and our emotions (which will be the next part of this blog series). And if the painful moments garner so much attention in our thoughts, chances are those painful memories play a large part in how we do life every day.
About 15 years ago, one of my most listened to songs was released; Two Wrongs by Wyclef Jean ft. Claudette Ortiz. It clearly wasn’t my favorite back then because there was no middle school relationship worth this much struggle. But, the more I listened to the lyrics as an adult, the more one section of this song just stood out to me.
I'm so used to the pain that I
can't see the sunshine no more
I'm so used to the pain that the
…sickness feels like the cure
Ay, but if only you gave me
the keys to your soul
and let me in
I'm gonna love you
As I was preparing for this blog post, as a transition from defenses to emotional blocking, these lyrics seemed to wrap it all together so well. For many of us, the (very real) pain of past circumstances clouds a number of the decisions we make these days. We don’t want it to be that way, but if we’re honest with ourselves, we’re kind of used to how it is now. We drop our token line here and there about change, but don’t move towards it because we’ve been in our current mindset so long that the pain of staying the same doesn’t appear to be greater than the pain of changing.
But then we have God who is telling us that if we will invite Him into our personal struggles and our painful places, then He will redeem that hurt for something beautiful (Isaiah 61:3). And even Paul, that brilliant guy that wrote most of the New Testament (so you know he’s legit), credited forgetting the past and looking ahead as his way to remain encouraged in this life to reach his real purpose (Philippians 3:13).
Just like Paul, we all have real purpose. But are we willing to release our grip on the past to move towards it?
Chat with God
Which past experiences do you replay most often in your mind?
Why are these moments closest to you?
What is your one sentence prayer in this situation?
Please invite a friend to this series who you think would like to join this journey!
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