Awhile back, I saw a plotline on television where a father overheard his adopted son lying to his friends about his past. Although the father understood that his new son was lying to cover up the shame and embarrassment that accompanied the truth, he also understood that it was wrong and unhealthy for his son to go through life making up stories and hiding in the shadows. So they sat down to have a heart to heart talk.
The father started off by saying, “We overheard what you told your friends today. That wasn’t the truth was it?”
The son didn’t say much—he knew what the father was right—he shouldn’t be lying. Still, he didn’t want his new friends to identify him with the story of his past.
Knowing the dilemma, his father suggested that maybe it was time to turn the page and start writing a new chapter in his life. He said something like, “When you read a book, you don’t just keep reading the same chapter over and over again, do you? No, you turn the page to see what happens next. Your life is like a book. It’s true the early chapters were really painful, but you need to read on. You started with one mom in chapter 1 and now you got a new mom and a sister and you’ve got so many more chapters to write.”
With these words of wisdom, the father encouraged his new son to open himself up to the all the possibilities that his new life would hold. Then he could fully share all the stories of his life because the horrific beginning wouldn’t be the only chapter in his story—it would just be a chapter in the amazing story of his life.
It’s been sometime since I saw this show; still I couldn’t help remembering it a few weeks ago when the Holy Spirit began issuing the same challenge in a particular area of my life. It started when I was talking with a friend about why my family didn’t participate in certain holiday traditions. (Long story short---my Dad doesn't like Christmas and these traditions served as triggers causing him to become abusive. Eventually, it just became easier to avoid the triggers than deal with his possible reactions.)
One of the things I love about this friend is that she always tells the truth and cuts right to the heart of an issue allowing the Holy Spirit room to work. As soon as she spoke the words, “So you’re still allowing yourself to be controlled by the fear of abuse”, my heart was lanced.
Slowly, the Holy Spirit began the process of healing my heart and challenging me to write a new chapter.
I have to admit, at first, it wasn’t pretty. That’s because at first, I didn’t see overcoming my issues as a possibility. I knew what she’d said was true, but I thought that because my father still lives with us, I had to just endure the situation until God did a miracle. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t excitedly anticipating a miracle---instead I was annoyed, resentful, and kind of sad that this chapter was still playing out in my life.
And then we entered the holiday season.
Everywhere we went, it seemed people were asking us about the traditions we were avoiding. (Isn’t it funny how the Holy Spirit arranges things like that?)
Knowing that lying wasn’t an option, I did not take the approach of the little boy in the television show. Instead, I told the people the truth. However, the more I heard myself explaining our story, the more I didn’t want this to be our story anymore.
I clearly remember thinking to myself, “This story is pathetic. I don’t want to be pathetic. I want to be normal. I want to be emotionally healthy. I don’t want to live this way anymore!”
It was time for a change.
I started by getting alone with God and seeking His direction for how to overcome this area of abuse once and for all. After much prayer, I felt the answer He gave was: It’s time to write a new chapter.
After receiving confirmation that I was on the right track from a wiser friend and mentor (I wanted to make sure I was hearing God and not just running on emotions), the next week we staged a Christmas revolution! One by one, we began reinstating the Christmas traditions we had abandoned in fear and grief years ago.
With each step forward, we were unlocking any lingering chains of abuse. The Holy Spirit was healing any residual pain that was left from our past. As we continued, my attitude began to change. I wasn’t just remembering all of the pain my Dad had caused in years gone by, but now I was remembering the good, fun, family times I’d had with my Mom celebrating all that the season had to give.
It was a healthy process.
It was a healing process.
It was more than just going through the rituals of Christmas traditions…it was taking steps toward freedom and the start of a new chapter in our lives.
As the father told his son…it was time to turn the page.
So why am I writing about Christmas when the season has clearly come and gone and we’re all thinking about starting a New Year?
Simply because I’m hoping that the lesson I just happened to learn over Christmas will inspire you to start making choices that will challenge the way you enter 2015.
Perhaps, it is time that you, too, turned the page and started writing a new chapter in your life.
Are you trapped in an unhealthy pattern that seems to be controlling your life?
Are memories of the past controlling your future, covering you with shame, embarrassment, or anger and keeping you from becoming the woman God wants you to be?
Are you trapped in a victim mentality always blaming someone else for the problems in your life but never taking responsibility to make the necessary changes to have a different life?
Do you wish things could be different, pray things could be different, but yet continue making choices that result in the same cycles being repeated?
Do you find yourself growing angry with God that He isn’t magically changing the circumstances of your life?
Perhaps it’s time for you to stop waiting for magic and begin asking God what changes He wants you to make to begin writing the next chapter in your life.
You see, one of the things I’ve learned in my years of walking with Jesus is that too often as Christians, we’re waiting for God to do miracles in the people and things AROUND us while at the same time we’re preventing God from making the changes He sees are necessary INSIDE of us.
One of the greatest tragedies I’ve seen within the church is Christians who carry the same hurts, the same wounds, the same unforgiveness, and the same victim mentality for 5, 10, 15, 25, 35, or even 50+ years, never allowing the Holy Spirit to remove the poison from their hearts, heal them, and help them live life as an overcomer in Christ.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the woman who is still living in the pain of something that happened 5, 10, or 20 years ago.
I don’t want my life to be confined by the chains of the past when Jesus paid the price for me to live in freedom.
The truth is that in Jesus Christ, every person can experience salvation, deliverance, and healing from the past. Each of us has the opportunity to be made new creatures in Christ, to grow in the fruit of the Spirit, and to live as victorious Christians that move beyond our past and into the freedom and new life God has planned for our future.
However, each of us is also given a choice.
We can choose whether we want to wallow in the painful chapters in our lives or allow the Holy Spirit to do whatever is necessary to heal our hearts and help us begin writing new chapters.
Each of us can choose whether we’ll allow the Holy Spirit to show us the areas of our lives that need change, and then whether we’ll obey His voice leading us to take the steps necessary to make the changes.
For some it will mean facing the truth about your past.
For others, it will mean forgiving someone who probably doesn’t deserve it but needs to be forgiven so that you can be set free.
Others will need the help of a pastor or counselor. Some may even need to seek someone who specializes in the areas of spiritual deliverance or overcoming addiction.
Many simply need to make the choice to start obeying God and doing what they knew He wants them to do. This could involve anything from choosing to stop sinning in a particular area to taking those first few steps in the direction of following God’s will for your life.
2015 does not have to be the same as any other year you’ve ever lived before.
God has a distinct plan and purpose for your life, and He already knows the changes and choices that you’ll have to make to come into agreement with His plan. He knows your past, and the amazing thing is that He has a plan to take everything in your past and use it to become your testimony to help someone else in the future. However, you past can’t become your testimony until you allow God to do whatever is necessary to help you overcome your past and obediently follow Him into your future. Whether or not you allow Him to take you through the healing and overcoming process is up to you.
Do you want to write a new chapter for your life?
Will you obediently follow whatever plan God has to lead you into freedom?
The invitation is given. The question is: “Are you ready to turn the page?”