Letting God Heal Your Past: 4 Simple Truths
No matter who you are or what your life has held, you have experienced pain. Your past holds memories of disappointments and let downs, perhaps even betrayals and trauma. But, where is God in all of this? What does our spirituality and belief system have to do with the past?
Impact of Past Pain on the Present
The reality is that our past does in fact impact our present. The pains that we experienced, from infancy till now, matter. They do not stay neatly tucked away in our memory, hidden from today. When humans experience pain, our brains, and our hearts create survival and protection strategies that will help us to either discredit the damage done, or prevent any future damage.
Sometimes this looks like putting up emotional walls, freezing, becoming numb, or even becoming combative when someone pokes at an area of past pain. It may look like addictions that consume us, distracting us from feeling or working through the implications of what happened. Maybe it is being an overachiever, a skeptic, a comedian, a know-it-all …anything we can do to mask or deflect from addressing the lies we have believed about ourselves, others, and God.
Letting God Heal Your Past
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
When painful events occur, falsehoods and lies can replace the truth. Our minds, especially as children, seek simple explanations to make sense of what has happened. If our father was violent with us as a child, we might have concluded that we weren’t good enough to deserve his affection. If we were teased by our classmates, we may have decided that friendships only lead to betrayal. These beliefs, though they feel true, are not. These lies are part of the reason our past impacts our present. If we haven’t done the work to uncover lies and replace them with truths, we still live in reaction to the falsehoods we accepted as explanations for our pain.
How this looks at YWAM Asheville
We believe that letting God into our painful memories and letting Him heal places in our past is a powerful road to effective ministry and a life of freedom in the Kingdom. At YWAM Asheville, our staff and our students are able to experience this in many ways. In the Discipleship Training School (DTS), students are given a whole week to let the Holy Spirit address areas of hurt and lies they may believe about themselves, others, or God. Secondary school students and staff are part of a discipleship community that prioritizes emotional and spiritual wellbeing, and are trained in leading others through healing as well. We are in full support of letting God heal the past through prayer, as well as through therapy and treatment. Oftentimes they go hand in hand. Youth With A Mission Asheville is an organization that believes there is no hurt too great or mistake too dark that God cannot heal, and make beauty from the ashes. When we allow Jesus access to our pain, He can correct the lies attached to them.
1. You are known.
“Nobody really understands me. I’m all alone.” This kind of thinking is rooted in the belief that we are unknown at our core, and thus alone. One of the enemy’s most beloved tactics against humanity is to convince us that we are isolated and alone. However true that may feel, the truth is that God knows you better than you know yourself. The Bible is full of stories and passages that reveal His intimate understanding of our hearts, our thoughts, and even our bodies. After all, He made you.
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”
- You are loved.
Experiencing rejection or ill treatment from other people can cause us to feel unlovable. When these experiences are laced with words that are specifically designed to hurt you, it can become easy to believe that their perspective of you is accurate because they seem to know you so well. But the truth is that even if other people don’t love us well, that has zero holding on God’s love for you. Someone else’s inability to see and/or treat you rightly does not discount your identity as a beloved child of God.
“…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- You are valuable.
The beauty of the Gospel is that a God who needs nothing created a humanity that would reject Him, and yet He values us so highly, He died on its behalf to restore relationship.
Though He needs nothing from us, He delights in us. He desires to be intimately present with us. If you were not of value, how did you come to bear His likeness? The maker of everything, the King of kings…why do you look like Him?
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
What is the difference between a piece of toilet paper and a $100 bill? Both are just particles of paper collected into a usable shape and texture. The difference is that one has the image of Benjamin Franklin on it. It is the impression on the paper bill that makes it of great value, the image it carries.
In and of yourself, you are just flesh and blood. A collection of finite organic materials…you have that in common with animals. What makes you valuable is Who breathed life into you…Who’s image you carry.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
- God is good.
The depravity of the world around us makes it hard to understand how the God who made it all could actually be “good”. When we have experienced deep pain in our past, it makes it all the more impossible to believe that a good God allowed it to happen. How could a good God allow all this suffering, evil, and pain? Why wouldn’t He stop it? Prevent it?
The best way I have personally come to understand the truth of God’s goodness in the midst of suffering is found in Isaiah 55:8 which says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”. When I train my mind to recognize that God’s goodness is different in essence than my goodness, indeed it is better, I am able to hold my questions open handedly. If I choose, by faith, to trust that God is truly good (to the fullest extent of that word), then I must also trust that His goodness is not abdicated or undone by human suffering. In fact, my understanding of goodness is just a glimpse of what actual goodness looks like. Mark 10:18 says “No one is good but One, that is, God.” This means that outside of God, I can have no genuine understanding of what goodness really is.
Another layer to this is God’s will versus His actions. Just because something happened does not mean that God willed for it to happen. Human free will exists and thus God allows us to make messes. Did God want you to be abandoned as a child? Of course not! Does he value human free will enough to allow us to make bad decisions that inevitably hurt others? Yes. God’s goodness and the gift of human free will are connected. It is a mystery that is hard to wrestle with. But the truth is, even when we don’t understand Him, He is still good. Even when we don’t like Him, He is still good. Even when we reject Him, He is still good. And no matter what your past held, He never once stopped being good in the middle of it.
As you invite God into your memories, into your past, allow yourself to trust. Trust that He is able to heal, He is willing to enter your darkest places, and that your future is worth fighting for.