Rose in the garden

(Photo: C. Lawton)

Revisiting our past: does it serve any good purpose? Our pasts are part of our stories. We can’t cut out the parts we don’t like and throw them away. Would we cut them out, if we could? I wouldn’t. I can’t imagine who I would have become without the disappointments and setbacks; I can’t imagine who I would have become without God working for good in all the disappointments and setbacks.

We may need to do some sorting. While I wouldn’t cut out any of my past and throw it away, I have needed to sort falsehoods from truth. In other words, we need not take everything from our childhood and accept it as truth just because it happened or was spoken. If, for example, we were always told the name for a rose is “daisy,” then one day we will need to relearn this falsehood so we can function in the real world. Yes, a rose by any name smells just as sweet; but the wrong name would cause confusion at the florist. We need truth on our side in order to function in the real world.

We may need to ask some questions. Did childhood lessons on the need to be a good child and sacrificially give, contribute to an overly acute sense of right and wrong? On the other hand, did a lack of training result in a “free spirit” that now roams the world seeking an anchor? Did the elephant of generational dysfunction stand in the middle of the living room forcing you to live with your back against a wall? Was your childhood a false oasis of perfection? When you stepped into the real world, were you shocked and unprepared? Or were Christian principles taught, but they were presented in a skewed way or simply not lived out by those in authority? Was the message so mixed that you have become too perplexed to even know where to begin to enter into an authentic relationship with God? Are hurts and fears now blocking the way?

Sort, yes; but give it all to God. God uses all of the details of our stories—even details of childhood abuse, neglect or trauma—for his glory. Individuals who suffered under those conditions carry an increased burden, but God can use that increased burden. God’s Word provides clear evidence that Moses, David and Paul carried the effects of their childhood into their adulthood. A baby in a basket, a lonely shepherd boy, and a Pharisee’s prodigy were all used by God. In fact, God’s plan for Moses was advanced by his childhood in Pharaoh’s home; God’s plan for David was advanced by the isolated life he lived in the protection of his father’s sheep while his brothers were off being warriors; and God’s plan for Paul was advanced because he spent his childhood steeped in the Old Testament scriptures.

God can use our stories too; “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). By the grace of God, we can overcome. And when we do, our deliverance will result in God’s glory. I can think of no better motivation for overcoming than a desire to bring glory to God with our lives. We can grind our heels into all the pain and confusion of our pasts and declare: Something good is going to come out of this!”

~ A.R. Cecil