The voices picking at the scabs of our past can be a lone drone reminding us of our failings.
Sometimes they are crystal clear pointing out with exact reason why we aren’t good enough or worthy of blessings due to where we came from.
Or based on what we’ve done.
Usually the voices are no further away than right in our very own head.
At least that’s how it is with me – my own worst critic. And rightly so. I’ve made some stupid decisions when I was younger – and I’ve had some really painful events happen that were beyond my control.
Going back to the town where I grew up over each summer and holiday reminds me of how far I’ve come. I was an Air Force brat so northwest Georgia was “home base” so to speak with my grandma, aunt, uncles and cousins. People there saw me in the awkward years and watched me hop from one phase to another. It’s a humbling experience to hear from someone who’s known all of your stages over the decades that you’ve turned out great and are a good mother. I still feel like the nerdy kid in head gear looking at my feet with slumped shoulders.
There’s been a story found in three of the four gospels of the New Testament that I’ve been rattling around in my head knowing words would form into a post. One thing I love about the four gospel writers is that so often you’ll get the same story, but it’s told in four different manners taking into account different backgrounds, varied outlooks and their own set of eyes to see the situation. Like we do today. Take a public encounter even with numerous cell phones capturing it and everyone will have seen it from their own perspective. Humans are funny that way.
So in Matthew, Mark and Luke we read about Jesus heading back to where he was reared. Where he grew as a kid in Nazareth. Where his mom, brothers and sisters probably still lived, maybe even running the family carpentry business. I would have loved to read about the reunion scene with Mary scurring around to feed her firstborn and his disciples while hearing of their travels and miracles.
While in town Jesus is well spoken and wows the synagogue crowd with his reading of the Torah (and even infuriates enough of them who want to run him off a cliff), but then we read he cuts his work short. We read that they are amazed by his knowledge but all they can say is “we know Jesus’ people” and “isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” Basically who the heck does he think he is rolling up in here like he’s big time?!
And it’s not like he withheld miracles for the hometown crew.
In Matthew 13:58 we read “and so he only did a few miracles there because of their unbelief.” In Mark 6:5 we learn that Jesus laid his hands “on a few sick people” to heal them but because of the townspeople’s lack of faith he could do no more.
I mean they were right there to hear it with their own ears and see healing with their own eyes. Yet due to their insistence that he was only a blue collar kid, how many lost out on immediate miracles or eternal glory?
The gospels even say that the townspeople “were offended” at his brilliance and words. They pointed out who his family was and “refused to believe him.”
Seriously why didn’t someone point out “hey do y’all remember that this kid NEVER got in trouble growing up?” Someone had to find it a tad odd that there was no human transgressions from little kid to grown man.
For the record nobody in my neighborhood is confusing my children with an example of perfection. And no kid comes to mind in our tribe that stands out as unique to sin. Love them all, I do, but none of them are even close to perfect!
So am I comparing myself to Christ in regards to the recent trip home? Ha! Not at all. But a few things did come to mind.
I’m missing out on present day and future miracles because I won’t take my eyes off the past.
And not because anyone is judging me . . . except me!
When in my family’s town I kept seeing old spots recalling what an idiot I was when I was there last or thinking about all the brokenness in my life then. Just like the townsfolk of Nazareth I refused to believe in the work He has done. I refused to believe in just Him.
He who has done a good work in me – and still has a lot of work to do – has shredded so much of the garbage away that kept me from looking outward to help others.
My baggage all matched, but I carried it everywhere.
All of the past mistakes kept me focusing on me and what a mess I was.
I mean come on, how could God use a broken vessel like me? Why would He want to?
Why wouldn’t He?
Shame runs deep and guilt is the gate locking us out of blessings.
The biggest and worst critic we encounter is sometimes found in the small space between our ears.
Many of the things I hear in my girl’s encouragement group and with others who share their raw doubts and struggles with me have a common theme: Not forgiving their past selves.
They go about life believing that the girl from year’s ago is entitled to punish the girl they are today.
- If you only knew how horrible I was to others
- I was a porn addict by age 16
- My struggles with alcohol tore my family apart
- I wanted attention I didn’t get at home and slept around
- I’m not sure if I was really a “no” when he forced himself on me so maybe it was my fault
- I had no reason to steal all the stuff I did
- All the awful things I think would end all of my relationships if people could read my mind
- My depression has never been under control so I’m always faking it
- I broke up a marriage and didn’t feel guilty
- If you knew the amount of drugs I did you wouldn’t want to be my friend
- I’ve been cutting myself for years and I don’t think I can stop
- I’ve used every “friend” I’ve made and didn’t feel regret
- If anybody found out about my abortion they’d never look at me the same way again
- Nobody knows how many times I’ve planned out my own suicide
- If you saw the amount of food I stuff down then force back up you’d die
And the list goes on.
So what past baggage are you holding onto?
How are you not allowing God to be a big “G” god and perform miracles on your behalf?
So sweet friend I want you to be honest and think about how are you like the Nazarene townspeople. Are you judging where you came from instead of proclaiming where you’re going?
If today your present self is so offended by your past self realize that you are missing out on life. The “now” in this moment is slipping by because your eyes are cast down in shame instead of looking up in redemption. Allowing yourself forgiveness now will stop the train wreck of missing amazing outcomes in your future when you allow God to be God and turn your mess into your message.
Lord, I’m not sure how I got to this place but I know I don’t want to reside here forever. Long ago people missed out on your glory because they couldn’t see past your lineage or your people. Right now I can’t see past my mistakes, my history, my mess. But nothing surprises you God and long ago you planned my story as your child. A child of God. So Lord please help me see my worth through your eyes. Show me my value through your desire to meet me here right now and bless my future with hope, forgiveness, joy and peace. Thank you God that even all I’ve gone through has been forgiven long ago on the cross so that my eyes can be fixed on you, free of shame, void of guilt and full of love. Amen.