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Freedom from the Past

I’m always a little amazed at how easy it is to see when other people have an issue from their past that keeps them from moving forward, and yet how hard it is to see it within myself! I had a good friend once who was terrified of dating. He would cite many reasons, some of them legitimate and some of them sort of trivial. The bottom line was he had never really allowed himself to heal from what he went through emotionally when his marriage ended. He’d been depressed, withdrawn and hurting, yes, but he moved from that dark place straight to avoidance without ever learning and growing internally through the process. As a result, he stayed emotionally stunted and unavailable, all the while claiming he was happy and better. Anyone could see the loneliness that haunted his eyes. Anyone but him. I felt bad for him.

It got me thinking. What do I hide from myself? If you were to ask me that question at any given time, I would tell you nothing. I consider myself to be a deep, thoughtful individual who is committed to personal growth and being a life-long learner. Yet experience has taught me time and time again I’m wrong. It may be I’m not in a place to receive a lesson I’m meant to learn yet. Or, I haven’t been placed in the right circumstances to squeeze it out. But there are always things lurking just beneath the surface for all of us, I think, that are easier for others to pick up on and perceive than we’re able to ourselves.

Far from being discouraging, I have found understanding that I have blind spots is an empowering experience. I don’t worry or obsess over it; I know as I’m ready to receive, God will show me the next steps in my journey toward growth. He has a knack for putting the right people and situations in my life at exactly the right time to help propel me forward, and He allows me to be that person for others, too. So I don’t have to own or worry about what I might not be seeing. God will show me.

The key, of course, is to let Him. We all like seeing the good, the beautiful and the encouraging in our lives. It takes humility and a genuine desire to grow to see the bad, the ugly and the discouraging. It’s hard and painful on the front end, and who in their right mind moves easily toward pain?! Yet I’ve learned the longer I fight or cajole or try to manipulate my way out of a life lesson, the harder my life becomes. I get protective instead of reflective, anxious instead of honest. I assume I’ll find happiness sooner my way, but instead it becomes harder to find.

When I don’t step into my truths God is calling me to, I miss my mission, my true purpose and the growth and ultimately joy that come from times of stretching. Like my friend, I stay stuck. It’s hard to stop pointing the finger at someone else and instead allow it to be pointed at you. But it is so freeing! You are, after all, the only one you have control over.

More and more I realize all that’s really required of me is to stay in step with God. The more in-tune I am with Him and His will for me, the easier it becomes to heal, to learn, and to take bolder steps of faith forward. I grow more quickly. I have more confidence as I reach toward my calling. In that, there is freedom.

For Further Thought: Jesus says, “Why is it that you see the dust in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but you can’t see what is in your own eye? Don’t ignore the wooden plank in your eye, while you criticize the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eyelashes. That type of criticism and judgment is a sham! Remove the plank from your own eye, and then perhaps you will be able to see clearly how to help your brother flush out his sawdust,” (Matthew 7:3-5 MSG). Are there any planks in your life you’re ignoring right now? Pray for the willingness to see what’s blocking you from moving forward. God will always oblige you with an answer.

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