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Controversial and Thought-Provoking Articles for the Savvy Christian

My Past Hit Me on the Head: What’s Yours Doing to You?

Posted By Denise Miller Holmes on Monday

Savvy Article #0913

Should a Christian examine his past? No, according to those who quote the below verses:

“Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13b, 14a, NASB)

These verses are often used to proclaim that a Christian emotionally cuts off his past, no matter how painful, and only looks at the future and his Christian goals.

But I’ve found that cutting off is difficult, and sometimes impossible.

Follow me. Let’s say you had a traumatic childhood. If you were to believe that the Bible wants you to cut off your memories, then whenever a painful memory surfaced, you would have to distract yourself, wouldn’t you? You would have to put a lot of energy to make the painful thoughts go away.

To do this you could pray, yes, but what if the thought just came back? Well, then you could read, or watch TV or call a friend.

But what if that didn’t work? You could eat. In fact, you could eat a lot. Or, just this once, you could have one sip of wine. And that doesn’t help too much because the memory that keeps popping up is really really bad. More wine then—enough to make you numb.

You see how destructive the cutting off process can be? Years ago, I had a similar experience of profound attempts to distract myself from childhood pain. I deeply believed that it was wrong to examine my past, and that for Christ to be enough, it meant I had to stuff all the memories and only look ahead.

But then I found the common interpretation of the above verses to be a LIE. I am exposing that lie here. I eventually had to stop distracting myself, find the help I needed, and face the things that happened to me.

In the above scenario, I described prayer as not being enough to make the pain go away.  In my situation, it wasn’t enough for me. Surpising.

Maybe prayer wasn’t enough because God wanted the memory to surface? Perhaps there are times when feeling pain is a good thing?

Hmmm . . . food for thought. We’ll explore this more next article, and find more Scripture that defies the notion that the Philippians verses mean what so many say they do.

About The Author

Denise Miller Holmes
Denise Miller Holmes enjoys teaching biblical topics, and especially researching and communicating what Christians believe about the world around them. She sometimes turns established viewpoints on end. A graduate of the University of Southern California School of Journalism, Denise also has a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology, and has been a Christian for over 35 years. She belongs to the writers’ groups Words for the Journey and American Christian Fiction Writers.


8 Responses to “My Past Hit Me on the Head: What’s Yours Doing to You?”

  1. Joanna says:

    I think it is important for us to remember our past because it is those events, good and bad, that have made us who we are today. I can look back at where I was before and see where the Lord has carried me, molded me, and changed me.

    I’m interested in reading the second part.

  2. Thank you Joanna for the insight. Yes I agree, our past is part of who we are. Glad you want to come back and read more!

  3. Diane Shaw says:

    Sometimes we get stuck in our forward walk with God and he presses us to face our past to get unstuck. This happened to me when I went through a season of depression that was steeped in my past. I prayed asking God to take away the darkness. His answer to me was “you must go through this.” I did go through it and He was there every step of the way. The past that He wanted me to go through is no longer a scene of darkness.
    There have been other incidences where He has taken me to my past to bring healing of my mind, emotions and most of all my spirit.
    I don’t know if healing from the past is done yet in my life but I don’t have the fear of going there that I had at the beginning. He is so gracious, merciful and loving. He does not give us more than we can bear.

  4. Diane, thank you for sharing your story. It is sometimes necessary to face pain, and when this happens we always want God to fix it. He does, but not without our cooperation and courage. I see your courage in facing your past and I applaud it. I also see your willingness to obey Him and to follow Him wherever He leads you, even if it’s painful. Again, thank you for sharing this.

  5. Danica says:

    Waiting for the next part…. ;)

  6. Jan says:

    In order for true freedom to occur, we must begin the painful process of facing our past.
    Then we need to forgive ourselves, God and others before we can release it.

    The lie is to stuff – which causes other issues.

  7. Thank you Jan and Danica for your comments. Jan, you’re right about forgiving ourselves. Danica, part 2 is coming on Monday!

  8. Thank you Denise for referring to my article. I am adding your blog to my daily reader.

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