When I was in elementary school, I used to make bouquets out of azaleas and walk down the aisle of my dad’s long driveway lined with magnolia trees, imagining a prince waiting for me on the porch. Those were little girl dreams I thought I’d left behind.
In my devotion “I Haven’t Got Time for the Pain,” featured today at P31, I shared about struggles I had years ago with anger and unrealistic expectations towards my husband. One day God showed me that my broken dreams had become bitter expectations taking root in my heart: I wanted my husband to make up for all that my dad had never been, and it was destroying my marriage.
God showed me that I needed to forgive my father and release my feelings of bitterness, abandonment and disappointment, and invite Him into those hurting places. Only He could bind up my broken heart and set me free from the fear of never have a happy ending.
As I released my grip, God began to heal my heart and my marriage. It was the beginning of a bigger work He was doing in my life. He walked me through a season of looking back so I could move forward, and used that time to “rebuild [my] ancient ruins and restore the [broken] places [in my heart that had been] long devastated” (Isa. 61:4).
During that time, I realized there were several areas of my life that needed restoration. I decided to write out a timeline of my life and asked the Holy Spirit , whom Jesus referred to as our Counselor, to help me see the wounds I had buried in my past.
With each wound, I asked Jesus to heal the pain and claimed Isaiah 51:3, “The Lord will surely comfort [me] and will look with compassion on all [my] ruins; he will make [my] deserts like Eden, [my] wastelands like the garden of the Lord.”
Over time I started to release the pain of rejection, shame, wounds and deep disappointments. Although I knew God wanted me to deal with my past, I also knew God did not want me to dwell in the past. He would speak through His word, reminding me again and again, See, Renee, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you see it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland (Isa. 43:18–19).
Forgiving each person who’d hurt me wasn’t easy but it was essential. Often we are afraid to forgive because it might open us up to be hurt again. Or we’re afraid to deal with it, so we just leave it buried. But any time we bury a hurt that’s still alive, it just rises from the dead to haunt us.
In Ephesians 4, the Bible tells us to “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love… forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (vv. 2, 32). Forgiveness was demonstrated on a cross where Jesus displayed His perfect love by dying for imperfect people. At Calvary, Jesus laid down His pain and hurt and chose love and forgiveness instead. His forgiveness frees us to forgive others and ourselves.
Of course, some things are much harder and take more time to forgive than others. When I am really having a hard time forgiving or finding healing from a deep wound, I ask Jesus to cover my wounds with His blood. As Scripture tells us:
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding . . . he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Eph. 1:7–8; Isa. 53:5)
As I shared in my devotion, we can’t go back and change the circumstances or relationships that have wounded us, but we can go back and process the pain with Jesus. In fact, we won’t completely heal until we do. And left unresolved, the pain from yesterday can keep us from experiencing all that God has for us today and tomorrow.
As you process pain from your past that you have carried into your future. consider making a timeline of your life with key events, and write down any painful emotions and memories. Then ask the Holy Spirit to remind you where you have been, what those events caused, how far from God those things took you, and how they hurt you and others.
Invite God to enter into those memories with you. Give yourself time to grieve your losses as you ask Jesus to heal them with the power of His Holy Spirit as you focus your thoughts on transforming truths in His Word. As He shows you broken places, ask Him to bind up every wound with His healing touch and set you free from any captivity that has held you until now. Pray His promises. Cry if you need to. Just please take time, sweet friend, to heal so you can be whole again.
* If this is an area of your life you sense God leading you to dig deeper into, more about this part of my journey and this topic are in chapter 4 of A Confident Heart,
I’m giving away 2 copies, A Confident Heart today. Just leave your name or a comment to enter by clicking on “Share Your Thoughts” below this post. Also, I invite you to share your thoughts about this post, or about today’s devotion, so I/we can pray for you. It would be my honor to do that. I love you sweet friends. God has given me such overwhelming love for each of you!