Some of you already met Felista in her post, Anchor Yourself. When she sent me her guest post for this month I was so excited to share it with all of you, because this message fits perfectly with The Other Virgin Diaries, specifically my post, ‘Does God Forgive Sexual Sin?‘ Read and be encouraged!
One of the best things I did with my time on campus was to work with the amazing PHD family. PHD stands for Preserving Human Dignity; an organization targeting youth, started in 2004 by Rev. Ken Aringo (one of my spiritual mentors and a man I greatly admire). I have volunteered during their annual forum, Mercy Experience, and was a panelist in 2011 with my boyfriend (another man I greatly admire!). During that time, I got to hear amazing stories of hope and restoration; how God restored people and families, how people overcame life-shattering experiences and rose to become ministers of the Gospel. One of the greatest lessons I learned was that your past doesn’t have to define you.
When we go through hard times, it’s easy to let that be the defining point of our lives; to let those hard times determine our choices, words, actions, and perspectives on ourselves and others. I should know; I did that for almost 10 years. When I was in Standard 3 (should be about 3rd grade), my classmates and I had the misfortune of getting a class teacher who had wayward hands. We were stuck with him that year, but we finally found the courage to report him and he was fired. But that incident stuck with me; I got suspicious whenever a guy came too close, I’d freak out if I saw a guy with long nails because he always kept his nails long. I carried the anger, bitterness and pain from that incident all through the rest of my primary and high school life, and it took God’s divine intervention for me to heal and finally let it go. But it wasn’t until I volunteered at Mercy Experience that I truly appreciated how much God protected me.
I heard heart-breaking stories, some of which I still remember to date. I saw just how bitterness can destroy lives and families, and I understood then how much God wants us to be free. I don’t know what you’re going through today, or what you’ve gone through. But I can tell you three things I have learned in my life that you also need to know:
- Bad things happen; not because we’re bad, but because we live in a fallen world. When God created Adam and Eve, He had designed a perfect world and He intended us to live forever in peace, love and constant communion with Him. But after the fall, sin not only corrupted us, it also corrupted the world. Bad things happen because we’re still bearing the consequences of sin. There are a lot of evil people in this world; people who delight in making others suffer. There are also a lot of good people who are still trapped in the pain of their own past sufferings, and they express that pain by taking it out on others. This doesn’t excuse what they do, though; which brings me to my next point.
- You can’t control what happens to you, but you can choose how you respond to it. It sounds cliché, I know. But it’s true; you really do have a choice. It’s easy to let yourself be mad at the world because you’ve been dealt an unfair hand. I did. It’s easy to put up walls when you’ve been hurt so that you never have to feel that pain again. I did. But the easy way is not the best way. When you build walls around your heart, you keep others out but you also keep yourself in. That wound that’s been inflicted begins to fester; anger and bitterness seep in to your life. And bottled up emotions explode when you least expect it, hurting you and everyone else in their path. Hidden wounds don’t heal; and bottled up emotions don’t disappear. Things don’t sort themselves out. You have to choose to work through them. You have a choice to carry the burdens of your past alone, or lay them at the feet of Jesus and let Him comfort and heal you. You have a choice to let anger and bitterness poison you and your relationships, or work through them, deal with the underlying issues and find freedom and wholeness. You have a choice, and that choice can only be made by you. No one else can make those decisions for you.
- Restoration is available. No matter how badly you’ve been hurt, or how long ago it happened, God is not limited by time or our circumstances. He can reach as far back into the past as you need Him to, and He can heal your broken heart. You see, every time you have cried because the pain was too much, He was there. Every time someone hurt you, He was there. Every time you have felt like you couldn’t face another day, He gave you strength to keep going. Your life isn’t a mistake; you’re still here for a reason. Your story can be the testimony that changes nations. Your pain can be the channel through which God touches you and your family. He wants to heal you, to comfort and console you. He wants to make you whole. Open your heart to Him and see what He can do. He is the healer of broken lives, our Comforter, our Redeemer, our Father, and our Friend. He is the One who knows how we feel, and only He can set us free. It doesn’t matter how long ago it happened. God is the author of time. Trust Him with Your whole heart, and He’ll give you back a whole heart.
Finally, I want you to remember this; your past doesn’t have to define you. You can move forward and enjoy the rest of your life. But you have to deal with your past in order to put it behind you. I sincerely hope you do, and I pray that God gives you the strength as you walk down your path of healing.
In His grace,