Proverbs 3:5 – 6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.
We all have a past. That past has shaped us into the people we are today. Sometimes though, we struggle with the events that moulded us, making us wish they just weren’t part of our story.
For too long I have despised (yes I just said despised) parts of my life which I have had little to no control over. The first of which is I have Cerebral Palsy and was welcomed into the world 10 weeks early. Still so much is unknown about Cerebral Palsy. Doctors are unsure whether having Cerebral Palsy causes the baby to come early or because the baby comes early they get Cerebral Palsy. When I asked my mum to reflect on her pregnancy and birth with me she said nothing was out of the ordinary except she suddenly went into labour 10 weeks earlier than expected. Growing up, especially, I wanted to be normal, I wanted to be someone else. I struggle with having to use a walking frame let’s face it, it’s noisy, ugly and creates a force field which I swear has isolating powers. But I can’t leave the damn thing behind because I would get nowhere. Literally. I wish my life could have a more spontaneous spirit to it where I could go everywhere I want; unfortunately, my friends and family’s homes are often not accessible or public places have flights of stairs. I have always had a love of dancing, I even wanted to be a ballerina when I was growing up. If I want to dance with my brothers or dad at a wedding without a walking frame they have to hold me up which is physically demanding on them as I rely on them not to drop me, they haven’t – yet, thank goodness they’re strong!
Another part of my life I have a hard time with is the amount of surgery I experienced as a child. One of the difficult things was there was no choice these weren’t elective procedures. Without the surgeries I would have been unable to walk as a result and suffered immense pain. As a little girl experiencing it I felt vulnerable and powerless with a good dose of panic attacks. These surgeries were major multi-level surgeries as the specialists reconstructed/improved many body parts such as my feet and hips. I have never broken a bone by myself it has always been done for me; yet I still had to go through the immense pain, nausea (due to the strong pain killers) and all the physio (which I hated because they always seemed to look for the weakness, the negative) etc. to gain a full recovery. Put that on repeat a few times and I built up resentment and fear of surgeries, doctors and medical procedures no matter how minor.
I experienced bullying as a child and a teenager, the bullies each managed with great success to erode my confidence and self – worth. The primary school bully ruled the social scene dictating who would be in the ‘in’ group by getting the potential new members to sing a song (as a way of discouraging people from joining). I tried but I am certainly not the next Adele let alone being able to sing in tune. What can I say? Singing just isn’t one of my gifts. Needless to say I was not welcomed into the group. Being a small, country primary school there were not many kids and a lot of my friends were in this group. In high school a staff member was the bully from laughing at me when I got homework to being critical about me biting my nails, little maybe, but constant. It got so bad I would get into screaming matches with parents about not going to school and my doctor sent me for tests to check whether I had brain tumours because of the constant headaches and nausea, turns out it was just severe stress. What made the situation worse was the people who could help (the schools) did nothing. My parents were the only ones fighting for me even though they weren’t listened to.
All three parts of my life have left me with scars of the emotional kind. I was ashamed of the experiences and how I reacted to them which resulted in a lot of sadness as I can’t go back and change it; though I am not sure I could bare living through those difficult seasons again. For a long time I have held on to them, allowing it to fester into an angry, hurtful, hated mess that I ran from. Rather than moving on. Releasing it. Letting it go. To heal. To have peace. To be free.
A way I have found useful of letting go of the past is to write letters (Counsellor’s recommendation) to and from my younger self. Below is some of what I wrote.
I want you to find it, find peace and forgiveness not only for others but for more importantly you. Promise me you will find it, ok?
Definitely has a Hunger Games vibe to it, doesn’t it?
Sometimes we have to travel through some hard seasons in life. In the midst of the darkness Jesus is right there with us in the mud and messiness of life working on our behalf if we let Him. Yes I have scars but rather than seeing them in a negative light it has been a journey in itself to see the beauty in them of my determination and of Jesus’ faithfulness in the storms of life.
I have had a choice to make just like Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) did. As I continued in my letter.
Choose to let go of the anger and hurt I know that is in your heart.
Choose to not let it define you.
Choose not to despise our path or reactions.
Choose to forgive though never forget.
Choose to let go of the past to embrace the future.
Letting go to be free.
I am finally letting go of the past and in the process learning to love me and my unique story. My life.
Letting go takes time and healing, but I no longer want to be held back by my past and things I can’t change. I encourage you to do the same.
My life is not perfect but it is beautiful and it is mine.
There is power in our uniquely, beautiful, though sometimes traumatic, stories. I hope you find the courage to embrace yours.