How to Deal with Shadows from Your Past

I was sitting outside on a deck chair listening to the birds chirping and the breeze blowing through the trees when a memory from my past flooded my thoughts.    I am not sure if it was the smell of the damp earth, the song of the birds or the warmth of the sun, but those memories surfaced with crystal clarity.  

I am sure that like me, many of you have experienced those moments when a smell, sight or sound triggered a memory from the past.  You may have thought that those memories had long been buried, but they were lurking in the corridors of your mind, pushed their way to the surface making you feel happy, sad, regretful or hurt.

All of us have a story to tell.  We can share our triumphs and our tragedies and perhaps we feel as if there were far less triumphs along the road.  Memories can open wounds from our past that we thought had healed, but other memories can fill us with joy.  Whatever the case, I am glad that we can go back into our memory box and draw out of our experiences good or bad.   Memories are important and vital to our overall health and well being.

How do we deal with our memories?  How do we move on from the shadows of our past and find healing for today?  Here are a few thoughts that might be helpful.

  • We can learn the most valuable lessons from failure and pain:  I don't like dwelling on my failures and I certainly do not revel in time spent thinking about the people who have deliberately tried to hurt me.  However, I can honestly say that as I look back at those shadows in my life I have learned more from the dark times than any of my joy filled experiences.
  • We can grow stronger through our hurt and failure:  We fall, but we get up again.  Yes, we strive to be more cautious because we have learned a bit of wisdom along the way. Actually the truth is we still fall and fail, but we get up and grow stronger.  That is because the experiences of life toughen us up, give us courage and determination andstrength to keep going even when we do not want to.
  • We can develop empathy for other people:  We can feel other people's pain because we know what agony they are feeling.  We would never be able to help others if we did not have shadows from our past.
  • We are where we are today because of the shadows of our past:  I have not enjoyed some of the pain and hurt I have experienced.  Some of it was of my own making and some was not.  There have been grave injustices that have crossed my pathway.  This might sound strange, but I am grateful for each path I have taken.  I have been hurt, chosen to forgive and been healed.  I have failed people and people have failed me, but I have learned to trust again and tried to be a better person who can also be trusted.

The shadows of your past are there to remind you that you have more resilience than you thought.  The shadows of your past are not there to hold you back, but to allow you to move into your future.  The shadows of your past are there to remind you that today is a new day, a better day and a day filled with hope.  Don't let the shadows of your past hold you back, rather let them push you into your future.

I am and always will be,

recklessly abandoned, ruthlessly committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,

Carol