MAKE THE CHOICE
This week’s activities will bring memories to the surface that may have been ignored (or forgotten) for years. But Jesus promised that the truth will set us free (John 8:32 NLT). So without further delay, let’s get started!
Dear Lord, it is so difficult to look within and admit our hurts. We guard our hearts and deny the pain because it just hurts too much. Look within us and guide us through this week’s activity. Help us be honest with ourselves about the pains we’re hiding, the effects others have had on our lives, and even what we’ve done to others. Our heart’s desire is to be healthy, to shed the negative emotions that hold us back. We know that the only way to truly be free is to face our fears and find strength in You. Give us the strength to discuss with our trusted friends. Thank you for loving us through it all, no matter what. Amen.
John Baker outlines on page 116 steps to working through our past hurts through a personal inventory. You will need several sheets of paper to complete the inventory. Because of the detailed instructions Baker provides, I will be using his descriptions for this step.
Using a piece of paper, create 5 columns and label at the top: The Person, The Cause, The Effect, The Damage, and My Part.
The Person – List the person or object you resent or fear. Go back as far as you can. Remember that resentment is mostly unexpressed anger, hurt or fear.
The Cause – It has been said that ‘hurt people hurt people.’ List specific actions someone did to hurt you.
The Effect – Write down how that specific hurtful action affected your life in the past and in the present.
The Damage – Write down which of your basic needs were injured. Social: Have you suffered from broken relationships, slander, or gossip? Security: Has your physical safety been threatened? Have you faced financial loss? Sexual: Have you been a victim in abusive relationships? Has intimacy or trust been damaged or broken?
My Part – You need to honestly determine and write down the part of the resentment (or another sin or injury) that you are responsible for. Ask God to show you your part in a broken or damaged marriage or relationship, a distant child or parent, or maybe a job loss. List the people you have hurt and how you specifically hurt them.
In 1973, I was a free-spirited 4 year old who didn’t have a care in the world. I don’t remember much about this time, except for one thing—returning home with my mom, from a visit to my grandparents, to find our home empty. I remember my mom going from room to room, and the confusion I felt as she looked through everything. My dad had left. Packed his things, and just left. No word, no comment, no goodbye.
On my birthday in 1979, I was getting ready for a sleep over with a couple girlfriends when the phone rang. My step-dad yelled up for me, “Amy, your dad’s on the phone.” What? What did he mean, “My dad’s on the phone?” I hadn’t heard from my dad in 6 years. I went to the kitchen to see my mom crying—the only time I’d seen her cry up to this point was because of my dad. I picked up the phone, and heard the voice. Yes, it was my dad. I was shell-shocked, quiet, and I’m sure I must have been confused and angry, too.
I never realized the impact these events would have on my life until I was in my mid-30s. I had superficial friendships, a desire to know-everything-and-be-perfect, and was facing my first significant depression. I learned how guarded I was with my heart, because I was convinced that if my dad could leave me, certainly others (less vested in my life) would leave me too. But if I proved to be invaluable with my knowledge, my skills, my talents…people would HAVE to keep me around! I was miserable. I was doing everything to please other people, to make them like me, and I ended up not liking myself. Through this process, I had relationships that didn’t work (I ended them before they could so I would have control). I doubted God’s true feelings for me (sure, He says He loves me but so did my dad).
There’s so much more I could say on how this affected my life, but that’s not the real story. Having the ability to put aside the hurt and realize that it wasn’t about me. My dad didn’t leave because of me, and nothing I could have done at the age of 4 would have changed his heart or his mind. He has his own hurts to deal with and I can’t do it for him. What I can do is forgive him and move forward. But I also need to release my misplaced guilt and shame … and truly embrace the truth, “It wasn’t about me.”
God blessed my life with an amazing man in 1976, my stepdad who was, for all intents & purposes, my “dad” for 27 years. I walked beside him when I got married. He cradled my daughter as a newborn. I held his hand in his last days, and heard him whisper “thank you” (the last words he spoke to me). The day that he passed into God’s glory, my father called me to give his condolences, and added, “I couldn’t have picked a better man to raise you.” To this day, there is so much power in that phrase that I cannot even begin to express.
Just as those words from my father bring a peace to my heart, I can trust God, The Father, when He says He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:46). I can trust that I am God’s child (John 1:12), I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10), I am free forever from condemnation (Romans 8:1-2), I am God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10), and so many more of the promises found in His Word.
Take time with your trusted friend to go through what you wrote in your inventory. The lists you created are no one’s business but yours, God’s and the person with whom you choose to share it with.
1 Peter 5:10 NCV
Psalm 139:23, 24
Romans 8:1, 2
Lord, thank You for being a loving and personal God who allows us to come to Him with our hurts. You have adopted us as Your own children. We know that nothing we experience is unknown to You. Everything has passed through Your hands before we see it. Help us work through our hurts in an open and honest way, to uncover those emotions & events we’ve been trying to hide for so long. Jesus said that we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. We cling to this hope and ask for Your truth to shine upon us. Thank you, Lord, for loving us as only a good Father can. Amen.
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