What purpose does your past have?
I was going through my desk drawers the other day and I found books and notes tucked away from years of Women’s Bible Study, Girls Only, Horse Lovers……ministries I was once involved in.
As I looked through the things my mind was flooded with many memories. I really enjoyed those years; the women, the girls, the experiences we had, and the things we learned together along the journey.
Though I loved those ministries it wasn’t until I saw those books and notes that I realized how much I missed them!
“Why wasn’t I still involved in them?”
As I thought back on each ministry I realized they had faded away for different reasons.
But there I was, looking at all those Bible Study books, notes I had written, folders I designed, bookmarks I made…
“Why am I feeling like this?”
“Why am I thinking these thoughts?”
As I write this blog I’m still not really sure how to put them into words…
Was I upset that those ministries faded away when I still wanted to do them?
Was it regret that life brought other things along instead?
Was I grieving the loss of things that I really enjoyed?
As I paged through the books and read some of the notes I didn’t even want to relive the memories. I was caught somewhere between upset and grieving. The memories that should have been good ones were shrouded in something I didn’t understand.
Something I couldn’t describe,
but, something I wanted to understand.
I knew deep down inside that those books and notes represented good years and I wanted to be able to see them as that; to relive the good memories.
So, I asked God to help me.
Because God alone is the answer to every problem!
In His tender way God began to bring to mind some women, some young, and some older, who attended those ministries and it brought joy to my heart to consider that perhaps some of the seeds that were planted or watered through those books and notes were part of who they are today.
And then I also realized that I too had grown through those years of ministry. Those opportunities stretched me out of my comfort zone, they kept me on my knees, they caused me to search scripture for hours, they taught me to rely on the guidance and counsel of the Holy Spirit.
There in my room, surrounded by those books and notes I began to see the past differently.
God so lovingly began pull back the shroud that covered my memories of the ministries.
I began to see those books and notes as the tools God provided for me and many other women and girls to grow in our knowledge and understanding of Him.
I began to thank God for the opportunities those ministries provided for me to use the gifts, abilities, and resources He gave me.
And as my focus changed from the books and notes to the lives of those who were part of the ministries,
when my thoughts changed from being upset and grieving, to being thankful for the opportunities I had,
God showed me something!
I had allowed those ministries to define me!
And because they defined me, without them in my life I felt I no longer had purpose!
Discovering those books and notes were evidence that I was a women’s Bible Study leader, that I was a leader of ministries to girls. They represented what I loved to do, they defined who I was. They held memories of the purpose of my life!
Uncovering them, bringing them back into view, I was faced with the reminder that I am no longer involved in the very things that I loved, that I lived for.
Just like those books and notes, I too was hidden away, no longer of any use, or purpose.
God opened my eyes to see that those thoughts and feelings I didn’t understand came from the loss of identity, the loss of purpose!
Behind all those confusing emotions was the underlying fear…
“If I am no longer involved in these ministries, who am I now?”
“What is my purpose?”
The past is a place we can get stuck in.
Or it can cause us to make radical decisions to escape it.
When we allow the experiences of life to define us the past will either paralyze us, or lead to radical decisions in order to deal with the loss of purpose and identity.
The amazing thing about when God opens your eyes, it may not be what you wanted to see, but it is always something you are glad you saw!
When God exposes a lie, He always replaces it with a truth!
I knew I needed to confess my sin of pride and belief in the lie that those ministries defined who I was.
Then I thanked God for all the opportunities I had and for the fruit that came from those ministries, both in the lives of others and within my own life.
For those ministries were intended to refine me, not define me!
Then I was able to look at those books and notes differently. And, once I was able to see the good God intended from them and relived some good memories, I actually threw them away!
God freed me from the lie of my past meant to paralyze me; upset with regret, and grieving the loss of my purpose.
Then He spoke truth to me concerning my future!
This verse Paul wrote about his past is a good reminder…
“I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14
Now it is time to move on!
To trust God with the things yet to come!
“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new.” Isaiah 43:18-19
There are new things on the horizon of my life and I thank God for all He brought me through, for all the experiences I have had that have prepared me for the “something new” He has for me!
Ironically, one of those “new” things is to write a book! Even though I just threw some away!