One problem that many of us face (even even after our hearts are healed) is the fear of history repeating itself. You may be stronger and happier, but if someone who reminds you of past pain shows up, you shut down. As soon as you encounter a reminder of hurtful behaviour, walls go up.
If fear dictates our decisions or if wariness causes our hearts to harden, this is a problem. God wants us to be led by His Spirit not confined by concerns of what could go wrong. Before we start the new year, let’s make sure we have dealt with the past.
Old memories can become objects of dread. They can be like rooms in the vast expanses of our hearts that we dare not enter because the contents are too painful. When something opens the door, we turn our faces away so that we don’t have to witness the sight or experience the pain again. Often we think that by avoiding those recollections, we are helping ourselves to stay strong.
The problem is that if you avoid your memories, the enemy can use them to trip you up whenever he chooses. We can end up being just as afraid of memories as we might have been of rejection or failure. And fear is an enemy of God. God’s desire is that we face our inner issues, remembering that pain is always better out than in:
“Remove sorrow from your heart” Ecclesiates 11:10
There are certain memories that used to hold me bound. I would try to turn away to stop myself from experiencing the past again.
When I woke up on the days immediately after our two years old daughter died, I would sometimes forget the loss for a few moments. The thing that usually reminded me of her death was the empty space in the corner of our bedroom where her baby listening monitor used to sit. Somehow that sight had the power to send me into a spin.
I would first remember my little girl lying unwell on my tummy in the middle of the night. I would think of my fear as her sweet frame snuggled close to mine. Soon I would be back in that horrible place of panic and despair, not knowing what to do. Once or twice the memories sucked me into deep dread so powerfully that I suffered from a panic attack.
There have been other memory cycles that have gripped me at different times of my life as well. They have all tended to be linked to shame or regret.
The way out
While we run away from painful memories, we stay bound by those events. If you suffer from flashbacks, I want to encourage you to face the memories that have held you captive. Next time someone or something opens the door to that room or those rooms in your heart, don’t run away. Instead, invite the Holy Spirit to come in and ask Jesus to heal you of that memory. Look at the pictures of your past. See the memories that try to overwhelm you and tell the Lord that they hurt. He is faithful and kind so when you ask Him in faith to heal, He will answer.
“He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds” Psalm 147:3
I brought every painful memory to Jesus and made a decision that day to never run from the past again. I knelt before the Lord in prayer and asked Him to heal my heart. I pledged to bring every picture to Him when they came to mind.
I was never again sucked into a downward spiral of memories. I was not yet whole, but I was certainly getting healed. Instead of running away from fear and pain, I was opening my heart to the Healer. Memories were no longer a source of dread and denial. They now became an opportunity to get a bit more sorted.
The people who once hurt us most can remain giants in our minds. There may be someone whose very name makes you pull back. When you see their number flash up on your phone, your stomach turns.
Perhaps you no longer see the person, but you have imagined how you would react if you bumped into them. The enemy will try to use the memory of that individual to torment you even when you are safe and secure.
There needs to come a time when we face these people in our hearts and deal with the sting. In prayer, picture yourself coming before those who have hurt you. See yourself before them, no longer afraid. Ask the Lord to fill your heart with godly love for that person or persons. Ask Him to show you how He sees them.
Whatever was dysfunctional in your relationship with that person is what you need to deal with in prayer. Don’t let the memory of anyone – living or dead – hold you back. Jesus has set you free.
“…But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth…” John 16:13 (Message)
When you face the truth with the help of the Spirit, you remove fear and anxiety. As you open the rooms of your heart to Him, one by one, He will remove the sting from your unwritten memoirs.
If you would really like to be free to be your best, get my new book 30 Day Detox for your Soul or sign up for the next Healed for Life near you. You will be amazed at what God will do. The book’s available in kindle & paperback via Amazon. Check out Healed for Life at www.jonaughton.com/healed-for-life/