My past is a mixed-bag of good and bad memories. Sort of an odd patchwork quilt of a childhood. I had some wonderful, truly remarkable people in my life. And while no one is completely bad, there were still people who did damage. There are reasons why I don’t trust easily, and why I still can’t believe I’m worth a second glance. There are points in my life that haunt me to this day. Painful moments that I relive more often than I care to. How can something from decades ago still steal the breath right out of your lungs, make your heart race, and twist your stomach in knots? It sounds crazy, and some days I feel crazy.
I feel guilty too. So many people have been through so much worse than I can even imagine. And I wonder, “What right have I to be broken by things that are far less than what others have survived?” Maybe comparing our pain to others is just a way to avoid dealing with it. Healing doesn’t take place when you’re too busy deciding who’s wounds are deep enough to warrant care. Even the smallest scratch can become infected if it’s left untended.
Some of the old wounds have lost most of the sting. Scars may still ache from time to time, but scars are wounds that have healed. It’s the ones that never healed that cause the most problems. The ones that I ignored, glossed over, and pretended that they hadn’t caused any real harm. When I could ignore them no longer, I discovered something else hiding under the surface: bitterness. That surprised me at first. I knew that there were still things that hurt, and I knew that I was angry about some of them, but I didn’t know that bitterness had infected those wounds. The Lord and I have had a number of conversations on this topic lately. I can’t excise the bitterness rooted in my heart on my own. Truthfully? I don’t exactly want to let go of it. That’s the hardest thing to admit, because none of us like to come face to face with the darkness lurking in our own soul. As much as I’d like to hang onto that bitterness though, that’s not what I’ve been called to.
“Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many.” Hebrews 12:15 HCSB
And so I pray.
Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner. Forgive me for letting this sin take root. Cleanse my heart of this bitterness, so that I may be healed.
Infected wounds can’t heal, and those haunting, painful memories can’t begin to lose their sting until the bitterness is gone too. It’s a work in progress. One that will take a lot of praying, a lot of hard journaling, and a lot of scripture. By the grace of God, and through the blood of Jesus, the sin I harbor in my heart may be forgiven. And yet, the grace of God is so great, that His grace doesn’t allow me to remain lost in my sin. Rather, God in His grace will change my heart, renew it, and free me from carrying that sin around. There is so much hope in that realization. By grace, there is hope for all of us, even me.
“Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.” Hebrews 12:12-13 HCSB