Everything that has happened in your past has brought you to where you are today. EVERYTHING. Whether those experiences were sad or happy, traumatic or uplifting, forgettable or memorable, they have all led you to right here and now.
When I was a little girl my nickname was DeeDee and I lived on a tree-lined street. I remember the house very well; there was a white picket fence and the smell of honeysuckles filled the air.
There are so many memories from that house.
I remember my grandma sitting in her recliner, crocheting for hours. In addition, I remember the day she passed away when I was about seven. That was the first time I experienced the depth of pain that comes with the loss of someone I loved. I remember my mom getting married and divorced while we lived in that house. I made vows of my own in that season, about the type of marriage that I wanted someday. My mom worked a lot of hours to take care of us, which led to many babysitters in that house. Some were wonderful and some not so much.
At one point my aunt came to live with us and I am not sure she knew what to do with a seven-year-old little girl. What began as a request to go to my room soon became a lock on the outside of my door to keep me in for hours at a time. When I would come home from school the door would close and I would hear the click of the lock.
There are times I don’t like the fact that our past shapes who we are today. I remember at one point, mentally drawing a line in the sand and saying, “The past is the past and I am not looking back!” Have you ever done that?
Is there a line in the sand between you and your past?
Maybe that line separates us from experiences, people and places our family once lived. Maybe that line is there because of pain, fears, or even shame. I want to tell you, our past shapes us in ways we can’t get away from, whether we have a line in the sand or not.
We see this clearly in the Bible through the life of Jacob. Jacob had a twin brother, Esau. On two different occasions, Jacob tricked both his brother and his father which resulted in him taking his brother’s birthright and blessing. Needless to say, Esau wanted to kill Jacob. Jacob escapes his brother’s wrath by going to live with his uncle Laban. There, Jacob wanted to marry one woman and was tricked by his uncle into marrying another. Jacob had a very interesting past. His family had repetitive deception, intense sibling rivalry, and we also see a pattern of Jacob escaping.
Have you ever wanted to escape your past?
I wish I could go back and change my past, but I have to accept the fact that my past made me who I am today. What we are about to see in Jacob’s life is that regardless of his family’s history, God was a part of his story all along and God had a plan.
In order to move forward in our lives, sometimes we have to look back.
That is exactly what God had Jacob do. When we left off in his story, Jacob was escaping his uncle Laban who had tricked him. His own brother desired to kill him. Then God tells him to do something unimaginable.
Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred and I will be with you.” Gen 31:3
There is so much beauty in the two words “with you”. Jacob is afraid of his brother and has no idea if Esau will kill him, yet God is sending him back for reconciliation.
In the summer of 2018, God sent me back as well.
He sent me back to the house on the tree-lined street. It had been 31 years since I walked out of that house for the last time, as an 11-year-old girl. The planner in me wanted to send a letter and ask if I could pop by, yet I never sent it. The thought of walking back through that door was overwhelming, yet the possibility of being told that I couldn’t would have been heartbreaking. I made the drive, stayed with a friend of mine, and headed to the house that smelled of honeysuckles.
I got out of my car, took a deep breath and walked to the house.
As I knocked on the door, my heart raced and my palms began to sweat. Large dogs began to bark from behind the door and I thought, “I’m crazy and should leave”. Then the door opened.
“Hello, this may be the craziest door knock that you have ever had!” I said nervously, “I used to live here, I grew up in this house”. The kind woman who answered the door said, “You are the little girl who lived here! We bought the house right after you moved out and have been here ever since, come on in!”
The house was much smaller than I remembered. I stepped through the door and into the hallway that used to be so long in my mind, but was actually SO short. The house was huge when I was a little girl. Thirty-one years later, 1200 square feet seemed much smaller than it used to. As we walked down the hall a familiar “creak” came from the wood floors. Although I hadn’t lived there in over 30 years it felt as if I had just been there yesterday. So many familiar sounds, smells & memories flooded my heart and mind.
Many good conversations happened between me and the owner during that visit. We were instant friends. She gave me a tour of the house. When we got to the bedroom that I stayed in I felt my stomach tighten. As I approached the door she said, “Can I ask you a question?” I replied, “Sure.” “Why were there locks on the outside of these doors?”
In that moment, my past crashed into my present and I felt seen, in a good way.
I told her that those locks were on there to keep me in after school. She said, “Well, we took them off.”
Quite unexpectedly, I felt an immense healing taking place in my heart. I walked out of that house 31 years ago as a young girl who was subject to the adults in her life. I walked back in as a 42-year-old woman still dealing with events from her past. It was as if the woman and the young girl were both being healed together.
For me, crossing that line in the sand and facing things from my past was my biggest fear. God sent me back and I discovered healing that only He could bring. Healing that came with risk, trust, and knowing that God was with me the whole time.
Is God leading you to take a step toward healing something from your past?
God is such a personal God. Knowing me, He knew that I needed to walk back through that house. All of us will not be called to do the same thing; God has many ways to bring healing into our lives. For some of us healing comes through a counselor. For some of us it’s a conversation, a visit, a time of prayer, or a lengthy journey where we depend on God the entire way. If you feel led to look back at whatever it is that needs healing in your life, I want to encourage you with the words that God said to Jacob, “I will be with you.”
That is what Reclaimed Story is all about: walking with you as you engage your story and step into the healing and freedom that Christ offers. We have many resources available just for you.
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Denisha shares this story on Life On Purpose with Pastor Sally Smale (HSBN.tv streaming). Check it out!