Recently I’ve posted some pretty open and honest blogs concerning my life. I’ve shared all that I’m struggling with in terms of what I have lost in the past couple of years, and the loneliness I had been feeling because of the loss. I’ve also shared what I have learned from the loss and pain that is associated with it, and even why I’ve chosen to not forget my past as I move forward.
Forgetting the past…at least attempting to…is often the normal response to painful experiences. There was a time I wanted to forget everything and start over. I will be totally honest and even admit that at one point when I was really hurting, I wanted to just walk away from everything and everyone and start a new life somewhere else. I’m SO GLAD I didn’t, but I admit it was a consideration at one point.
I know that painful memories are not fun, and we want to get rid of them whenever possible. I get it, I really do!
Today for example, is a date that brings with it a lot of memories and pain for me. July 19th. A date that I’m sure I’ll never forget, and a date that I’m sure will always bring me more pain and reminders of the past than most other dates. Some dates just carry more weight than others, and this date is one of those for me. This date was my wedding anniversary. But not only that, it is also the date that I first realized that my marriage was in serious jeopardy of coming to an end (and it eventually did end).
For many years this date carried with it good memories. Memories of another year being married to a woman I loved and had a family with. In more recent years, however, it has carried more painful memories with it. Memories of the pain of loss and rejection. There are both good memories and painful memories associated with this date, which is why it carries so much weight.
But despite the pain, I don’t want to just try to forget the memories associated with this date. As hard as it has been, I want to learn to accept all memories as part of the journey that I have been through in my life. I want to learn from the memories of my past as I move forward into the future. And I want to learn to continually trust in God and rely on his strength in my life, and painful memories help me do just that.
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” – James 1:2-3
“…but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5
If I try to push away or forget the difficult times in my past, then I’m trying to live my life in my own strength, and I’m trying to act as though I’m not vulnerable to pain and hurt in this life. But when I choose to remember the difficulties of the past, then I’m constantly reminded that I am weak and vulnerable, which reminds me that I need God.
I need God’s grace in my life. I need God’s strength in my life. I need to remember that difficult circumstances help me to look to God for his grace and strength in my life. I need to remember that it is because of his strength that I am able to do all the things I need to do as well as what he has called me to do in this life. And I need to remember that trials and suffering in this life serves as the catalyst for me to grow deeper in my faith, gives me the ability to endure and remain steadfast, creates in me a stronger character, and ultimately leads me to hope.
July 19 is a painful day for me…but I know that it’s also just another date on my journey that God is using to produce faith and strength and character and hope in me.
To anyone who has certain dates or memories that are very difficult and painful…
May you be able to find rest in God’s grace. May you admit that you are weak so that you will allow his strength to be your strength. May you continue to seek him each day as he produces stronger faith in you. May you remain steadfast and endure the trials with full confidence that God is at work in your life despite the pain. And may you find hope again for your future because of all that God has done in your life through the trials and pain.