She often wrestled with her past. Some days, she felt as if she was winning; others, she wasn’t sure.
Beth was the oldest of three siblings. They grew up in a loving home, but it was one thing that scarred her memory. The words “I love you.” Beth could only remember her father speaking them when she was a young girl. Somewhere along the way, he stopped telling her. But she could never remember hearing those words from her mother. Her sisters confessed they hadn’t either. Their home had a loving atmosphere. It would just have been nice to hear love in addition to seeing it in actions.
As adults, they psychoanalyzed their parents. While both of them grew up in loving homes, neither grew up in homes where love was spoken. Beth made a decision before she married and had children. She would say the words she rarely heard. She was tired of wrestling with her past.
Jacob wrestled with his past. He had stolen his older brother’s birthright. Then he had tricked his father and stolen his brother’s final blessing. His brother hated him and swore to kill him. He ran. Many years later—while on his way back to face his brother—he wrestled with God over his past mistakes.
Like everyone else, I have things in my past I wrestle with. Ruminating on the misery of my mistakes or the bad atmospheres I endured does nothing for my present or future. Only as I think about what I can do differently—or avoid altogether, is my present and future affected. Beth decided she wouldn’t be a prisoner of her past. When she married and had children, she often told them “I love you.” Jacob wouldn’t either. Even if it was painful.
My past can haunt or help me. The choice is mine. I am who I am because of it, but I can also change who I am because of it. There’s much I can learn from my past—positive and negative. The past is set in stone, but my present and future are pliable. With God’s guidance, I can enhance them both. A part of me is what I was, but most of me is what I choose to become.
Are you winning when you wrestle with your past?
Prayer: Father, help us use our pasts to our advantage rather than allowing them to destroy us.
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