Monday, July 09, 2007

Releasing the Past vs. Suppressing the Past

In the comment thread of my last post Sam posed a great question. I made the case that sometimes it is necessary to “bury” something from the past so that we can fully realize necessary change for the present and future. Sam asked how “burying something from the past” differed from having a “buried barrel of toxic waste” which was a comment I made in a talk a few weeks ago.

In short the difference is what is involved in releasing the past versus suppressing the past.

Suppression was the factor that I dealt with as an adolescent and young adult. I had experienced the absence and abandonment of my father, the death of my brother and a tragic loss of a beloved pet and therefore had developed a hidden message on my heart that said, “I’ll never give myself to anyone else. It hurts too much when they leave.”

That message protected me from hurt for some years but as an adult that decision was working against my having closeness in my marriage and with my friends. God began to reveal to me over the course of time through prayer, Bible study and counsel, that my “heart message” was like toxic waste in a barrel that has been buried beneath the ground. The barrel has a small leak and toxicity is slowing oozing and leaking out. The waste is poisoning my relationships and keeping my heart sick.

Therefore, I felt impressed by God to go through a process of unearthing that barrel and properly disposing of the toxic waste (experiences of abandonment and messages of self-protection). That disposal happened with the receiving of truth or a “true message” from God that (a) my abandonment experiences were a result of broken things that happen in a broken world, and (b) I have tremendous worth and value as a person and I am thoroughly loved by my heavenly Father. Putting this “big” issue in my life into the past then became very important for me to be able to move into the future with newly formed trust of significant people in my life.

The result? I’ve grown to be able to have deep and meaningful relationships where others love me well and I love them in return.

This is reason #473 that I am a follower of Christ. Not only did Christ live life better than anyone else who has ever drawn breath, but Christ gives me His power, His grace and His wisdom so that I might live life well also. What a deal.

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