There were those words again: “I can’t believe that you were abused. You just don’t act like you were abused.”
The first time I heard them it was startling. My mind went jumping from thought to thought: Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Exactly what does an abused person act like? I rarely think about my past abuse. What did she mean by that?
The answer to some of my questions came with the next statement:
God must have really healed you.
Wow. I had never thought about my healing being obvious or evident to others. What a concept. That was the beginning of keenly listening when someone would unexpectedly tell me of their past stories. Almost always I had no idea they had lived through awful things because they were balanced, giving and loving people.
Do you know people like that? My friend Margie is like that. She is a deep thinker. People are drawn to her like flies to honey. She is calm, funny and always bringing up the ‘why’ questions about life. Margie has a way of drawing new people in, as she leans in an listens intently to their stories. So it was kind of shocking when she revealed her violent childhood to me. Suddenly, I questioned why and how did she not ‘wear’ that horrible past. Then I realized that her ability to live in the present was what was so appealing. She did not carry her past like a hiker’s backpack, heavy and necessary just to get through life, with it banging into people around her. Instead, Margie offered hope. She did not put out a plate of hurt, shame, fear and guilt for she was free to offer joy and kindness. You see, God had healed the deepest places from her past. It is beautiful to see her and have no clue that she was severely hurt and abused.
Somehow our culture has forgotten that we have a lot to offer people from our stories of healing, forgiveness and freedom from pain. We meagerly offer up the sadness and pain of our past, completely missing the blessings and provisions that God brings us each new day. But is that what we really want ? “Come hear my pain and the horrible things that I have been thorough.” Um, no. Isn’t it likely that people around us gravitate toward those who can see beyond their own painful past and look deeply into the joys and blessings of today? Yes, we can bring hope of healing with the stories of our dark past, but it is the light of that healing that brings the hope. It is not in the wading through the horror again that we offer peace. Isaiah, the ancient prophet encourages us, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! (Isaiah 43:18)
Who do you know that lives their life brightly today, rather than in their past hurts? Are they like Margie, bringing kindness and love, not bound up because of their past? How do they inspire you? What is it that you need to remember to forget? Do you have old history that you keep going over? What can you stop carrying? Will you ask God to heal the bruised and broken places in your heart so that you live in peace? What beautiful story do you have to share with others because you have been healed? Are you alert and looking each day for the new thing that God is doing in your life and around you? Will you be brave and begin to burst out with stories of what new things are happening in your life? Do it!
Please let me know if I can pray for you or help you find healing. God loves to take our hurts and replace them with peace, hope and joy.
Grace & peace,