Pain has a way of making a permanent home in our memories. Even when we try to forget the upsets of long ago and move on. We can’t. Unpleasant memories of the past beg us to spend time with them in our present. Unfortunately, we give in to these demands.
One day I received a call from the front desk and they said I had a Pastor on call appointment for that day. Later on, a distraught middle-aged woman walked into my office. I greeted her and after she sat down I asked her, “What’s wrong?”
She said, “Do you mind if I start at the beginning?”
I said, “No, go ahead.” She took out a stack of papers.
“Do you mind if I read it to you, it’s difficult to talk about?”
“No, feel free.” I thought she must have been through a traumatic event recently.
She began to read her papers and to my surprise she began her story some forty-yes forty years prior. She sat in my office sobbing and brokenhearted about incidents which happened forty years ago. She got stuck in the past, and it ruined years of her life.
She kept asking me questions, “Do you think if I spoke up back then my life today would be different?” This went on for a couple of hours.
We can discern victories of the past but it is futile for us to live in the great yester-years trying to figure out exactly why things happened and why they happened the way they did.
Our cages are not locked and we are not doomed to live in the past. Psalm 124:7-8 NIV
GET RID OF THE PAST TENSE
Recently, I completed a book and sent it off to my editor for review, I received an unexpected reply. He said, “Tracy, you need to rid your manuscript of passive verbs.” He continued, “Go through your text and circle all is, was, were, being, would, could, had been, have been and see how many you can replace by recasting the sentence by means of active/action verbs.”
For three solid days I watched the word was glare back at me. I had no idea I used the word was so frequently! Finally, I eliminated the word was and had to go on to find more powerful verbs to replace the rest of the weak verbs! What a job!
Then it occurred to me, just how many passive verbs we might be able to replace in our lives with a shift in perspective. This exercise showed me how often we get lost in what was, what could have been, what would have been, and who we were. It’s time for us to be found in what is, what can be and who we truly are in Christ. If we spend too much time fixated on our past, it will begin to devastate our present. With tenacity, steadfastness and resolution it’s possible to live in the present moment. As Bob Goff recently said, “Quit being who you were!”
I realized not only did I need to rid my manuscript of passive verbs; I needed to rid my life of passive verbs as well.
I love this verse, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. (Isaiah 43:18) I made a decision not to re-live my past over and over again. I got my pen out and circled the adversaries in my past which threatened to keep me from the bright future God planned for me. I relied on God while at the same time embraced my vulnerabilities and as scary as letting go of my past felt, it proved to be an opportunity for me to get to know God better. When I stepped out in faith God showed up in a profound way.
TIGHTEN UP OUR HOLD ON OUR FUTURE.
Let’s face down the demons of our past and after we have given ourselves permission to feel our emotional disappointments then we can continue to trust God to heal our hearts.
Tracy Carpenter is an author, child advocate, and sought after visionary with a Doctor of Ministry degree. Her passionate and candid style of writing inspires others to explore and expand, their own creativity and spirituality.
She has been published multiple times in national magazines and produces a large array of children’s curriculum worldwide through Standard Publishing and Kidsworld Studios Inc. She is presently the children’s pastor at Centerpoint Church and has served as a pastor at Crossroads Christian Church in Corona, Ca and Mariners Church in Newport Beach, Ca.
Tracy and her husband, Mike, have two children and two grandchildren. They live in Murrieta, California.