As we prepare to move to our new house in another state, we have been going through our closets and basement to see what we can sell, donate, or keep. There was one plastic tub in particular that I’ve been dragging around state to state to every place I’ve lived for the last ten years. Just thinking about having to go through it again for this move made me tired. The only times I’ve actually cracked open the lid is just before I’ve moved to see what I could purge or add to it. Old cell phones, a handful of race medals and bibs, a blond braided wig and Viking helmet from Halloween, a bunch of purses I never use (or used at all), a framed college picture collage, a keychain, and a few scarves are the paltry treasures within. Why have I lugged this tub all over the country? There’s nothing really in there worth keeping. Yet, when I pick up each trinket, a flash of a memory from my life sparks to life. I think about who I was in that period of time, and re-live the same feelings I felt in those periods of my life. Some memories are happy, but of course the negative ones are what my mind clings to. The what-ifs, should haves, and shouldn’t haves start feeling heavy. I’m washed in shame and embarrassment as I recall how I acted out of loneliness and a desire for acceptance. I feel guilty for how self- absorbed I was, and that I unwittingly stunted several friendships. I also feel angry at my inaction, for not sticking up for myself or others, to say what needed to be said at the time. I invent comebacks that only get better and more witty the more I replay the scenes in my mind.
For some reason, a particular memory invades my mind somewhat regularly and makes me wish I could go back and change my response. As a member of a club volleyball team, each week someone from every team had to stay late for the next game to referee. This particular night was my turn to be the ref. I was deep in thought about some superfluous boy, when the volleyball bounced in front of me, WAY out of bounds. Everyone looked at me, but I said nothing because I thought it was obvious that the ball had gone out. Out of the confusion I caused by staying silent, one player from the team whose side I was standing, erroneously tossed the ball back to the other team who had just hit the ball out. I watched in slow motion as the game continued, and I inexplicably remained mute. The team who incorrectly got the ball back boldly was revived and came back to win the game. Gulp. I felt even worse when one guy from the team I’d cheated out of the win ended up refereeing the next game, which happened to be mine. He was so full of resentment against me for singlehandedly causing his team to lose, that he intentionally made a bad call against my team which caused us to lose the game. I yelled at him in protest, but he gave me this indignant look of , “How does it feel?” so I shut my mouth and was furious with myself more than anyone. Nobody from my team knew why he had a vendetta against us except me. I wish I could go back and yell, “OUT!” and make sure the right team would have been rewarded the ball, but obviously I can’t. Why do I still perseverate over that one night? Perhaps because I was so utterly useless when I was needed, and then had zero control over the repercussions of my inaction.
Spending time on these thoughts and negative feelings consume my joy. What good is it to look back at life and feel embarrassed or sad or angry or bitter? None. We can’t change our past, and rarely does looking back propel us forward. I am drawn to these verses in Hebrews 12:
Hebrews 12: 1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, the physical and emotional baggage we carry. Admittedly, the physical junk is way easier to purge. Sometimes it’s really hard to connect the head knowledge to our hearts that we have been forgiven. That’s why we need to keep our eyes on Jesus. Looking straight ahead, not looking back, and most certainly not looking down at ourselves or we completely miss opportunities for purpose in this life. “We are surrounded by a huge crowd of witnesses to this life of faith.” If we claim to follow Jesus, people watch us. Our words and actions should be different. We have been forgiven of everything we have ever done or will ever do, so let’s live like it! Of course, we’re going to blow it every once in a while. But, those stumbles cannot rule our thinking. Sure, they’re part of our history, but they do not make us who we are. There’s a great Hawk Nelson song titled, “Live Like You’re Loved” that I’m humming as I type. Here are some of the lyrics:
I’m tellin’ you something, This God we believe in, Yeah he changed everything, No more guilt, No more shame, He took all that away, Gave us a reason to sing.
So go ahead and live like you’re loved, It’s ok to act like you’ve been set free, His love has made you more than enough So go ahead and be who he made you to be And live like your loved
So, let us get out from under those self-imposed entanglements and do this life with a freshly poured cup of grace.
This post was shared on GodsizedDreams.com