Question from a Site Viewer
I have been in and out of mental hospitals for the past 15 years of my life. As a child, I experienced the death of a parent, rampant racism and sexual abuse (I was abused and witnessed other children being abused and all the adults who knew kept quiet and never intervened). As I grew up, I lived a double life. I experimented with alcohol and sex, but never had intercourse or did hard drugs, so I felt I was still good. We all went to church, but my family was spiritually dead. Nobody really followed Jesus. After college, I had an abortion. At the time, I did not think this had any impact on me. I am haunted by this now, more than anything else. Eventually I got married, had a baby, then the real misery began. I still lived a double life–the perfect hostess, wife and mother, yet I was miserable. I was angry at God and nobody knew. My husband and I divorced. I joined a spiritual school, got into yoga and began reading books on spirituality. Then I had some very strange, yet very real, spiritual encounters. Since that time, I have been living a nightmare and feel that I am in constant spiritual warfare. I read my Bible daily and pray, but this is ongoing. I simply can’t forget the past.
Your message touches a chord in our lives. How many times do we each experience life seemingly spinning out of control? Then we do things we regret and we realize were not at all pleasing to God. Sometimes it can seem hopeless to ever seek to return to Christ.
But we want to assure you that such never is the case with our God. He always, ALWAYS, welcomes home those who seek Him. This is the whole point of Luke 15. Jesus said that He came to heal those who are sick, not those who are well. So, if we find our lives to be unhealthy, there is a great Physician who wants to restore us to the life that only God can give.
Accordingly, I encourage you to forget what has happened before. Forget the past. Don’t give place to the devil. He may tempt you to think that your life is ruined. But it is not. You are precious to the Father. I often am reminded of Paul who says that he forgets those things that are in the past and he reaches for those things that are before (Philippians 3:13-14). There is nothing we can do about our past life, whether it has been good or whether it has been not so good. Thus, we should not live in the past and if our minds bring up the past, we should remember that Christ has redeemed our past and brought us into the presence of God Himself. We must keep our eyes focused on Jesus and on the hope to be brought to us at His coming. The Lord is the ultimate victor and He will deliver all those who call upon Him.
Often, because of our weak minds, our troubled pasts seem sometimes to overwhelm our thoughts. As believers, we want to change our thought patterns to those that are pleasing to Christ. And while we may not be able to control what thoughts come into our minds, we have the ability to control what we do with those thoughts. Scripture admonishes us to think about good things (Philippians 4:8). One of the most effective ways of doing this is by memorizing God’s word. Select a short passage, and work on committing it to memory. As we do this more and more, the pathways of the brain will be reshaped into wholesome and godly ways (Psalm 119:11). The transforming of our minds does not happen overnight (Romans 12:1-2). But if we will pursue the knowledge of Christ through reading His word, praying, listening for Him, and seeking to do His will, we will find that as the days and months pass our lives will be changed from glory to glory, even into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).
One way I have found that has been effective for me is to associate good thoughts with thoughts that I do not want. Thus, if I am tempted to remember a certain unhelpful matter, the moment that thought comes into my life I use it as a reminder to stop and thank God. Having done this over time, it is now almost automatic. The thought I do not want always triggers for me the thought I want, simply because I have chosen to use the unwanted thought as a trigger to praise. Other thoughts that I do not want to think about I have used to remind me to pray for certain individuals. So, for instance, if I start to feel sorry for myself, that becomes a trigger to pray for others.
I do not know if these steps will help you. I share them only because they have helped me.
I am encouraged that you are in a study with other believers and engaging in prayer with them. You are taking the right steps. May the Lord Jesus demonstrate Himself strong on your behalf. And may you grow greatly in your love for Him and in your service in His kingdom.
with our prayers,