Drop The Box
Have you ever met one of those deep, existential-thinking, profound-speaking people who come up with brilliant new thoughts and ideas all on their own? Well, I am NOT one of them. My bestie Kali is, though, and just between us, it’s downright annoying. I suspect that 99 percent of the world’s content that is put out there is basically the same ol’ stuff told again in a slightly different way. But not Kali. She is actually one of seven people left in the world who actually birth new ideas and thoughts on a regular basis.
Not long ago, Kali returned from speaking at a large conference in Nashville, and I asked her what she’d been focusing on. She told me that weeks before the trip she’d had an epiphany (of course she did) that had completely changed the way she thought about women and confidence. She said, “I think our confidence today comes from three places: our past, our present, and our future.”
Okay, I thought. Interesting. But it was when she elaborated on the part about the past that her idea hit me like a ton of bricks. She said, “I realized that instead of letting our past go, we need to simply let it be. Not let it go, but let it be.”
Letting the Past Be
I thought about it. In fact, I thought about it deeply. (I guess I have it in me after all.) What would it be like if we just let it be rather than let it go? I don’t know how to just “let go” that a strange man broke into my house and raped me while my sleeping toddler was only steps away. But I do know how to let that be and give it to God. One sounds much easier than the other, doesn’t it? To me, letting something go seems hard. It seems like clenched hands and whitened knuckles negotiating with my past. Letting it be sounds like a release, an acknowledgment of what it is but still choosing to just set it down and walk away. We’re still able to see it, we still know it’s there, but we’re choosing to let it be and put the unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger at the feet of Jesus.
What would it be like if we just set down that box containing all our stories of tragedy and hurt and bitterness? What if we simply put it down and kept walking? We know that they are there, we know that we can go back to them, but for now, we choose to let them be.
Forgiveness is the Only Way to Tell a New Story
Because forgiveness — of others and of yourself — is the only way to tell a new story. To tell a story of victory and triumph and not one defined by hard or even evil moments that may have occurred decades ago. Carrying unforgiveness forces us to live life as victims. When awful things happen to us, we have the choice to stay in the hole dug by whoever or whatever inflicted pain upon us or to crawl out and brush off the dirt. We can decide to let it be. We can put that pain at the foot of Jesus over and over, 490 times if we need to, and perhaps even let the memory of it be fuel for helping others.
There are other women who will be subjected to the same heartache as what you went through, and your experience, your tragedy, may very well be the only thing that helps them. Maybe they won’t have to hurt for so long or as hopelessly after they hear your story and see how you have emerged from your hole. You might hold the lighter that can ignite the healing for another person. Your tragedy is that lighter fluid.
I think the Enemy loves when we get stuck carrying the weight of unforgiveness. It must make him very happy to see that big heavy box prevent us from living our lives to their fullest capabilities. He hates — I mean hates — to see us set ourselves free from bitterness and resentment and shame. He probably also hates my prolific use of metaphors. So let’s throw in one more.
I’m sure you’ve heard some variation of the saying, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” I’d like to swap out the word resentment for unforgiveness. The weight of our unforgiveness only harms ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I’m entering the best half of my life and I don’t want to carry that poison around anymore. So let’s put down that box and walk on feeling lighter.
Dawn Barton shares more of her insight this Monday on LIFE TODAY. Excerpted from Midlife Battle Cry by Dawn Barton. Copyright ©2023 W Publishing. Published by W Publishing Group, an imprint of Thomas Nelson. Used by permission.