Memories…they come and they go.  Some stick with us forever (or so it seems).  What we do with the good and bad memories helps define who we become.  Good memories can spark a bit of nostalgia and even cause us to long for what once was.  However, if we choose to not long and just be thankful that we had the experiences, we can feel warmth in our heart and spirit unlike anything else.  Bad memories can cause us to feel anxiety, pain, or even depression.  Choosing to look at bad memories from a different perspective, though, can lead us to also be thankful.  Thankful that we had an opportunity to learn, and thankful we had a growth opportunity, a chance to grow stronger.

I recently had a conversation with my husband about the power of thoughts in our lives.  We talked about where we had been in our relationship and where we are now.  As we grow old together, things have changed and are changing.  We were very young when we met, and have now been together for 21 years, half our lives.  We initially learned about each other through sharing our experiences and memories.  The truth is we did a lot of living in our short lives when we met.  Hubby had experienced life as the youngest of four boys in a single parent home.  He had experienced life in his teen years as a heavy metal sound man and guest singer.  He saw the good, the bad, and the ugly in all his experiences.  It had formed who he was up until that point.  I had experienced life as an only child in a two-parent middle class home in the country.  Well, an only child for 15 years.  Then I was a much older sister times two.  I had experienced life in my teen years as an ‘A’ student on the path to college while also experimenting with being a ‘party girl’ living carefree.  We came from two very different backgrounds.  These things, while not all good & not all bad, formed who we were when we met.  Our perspectives were filtered through those experiences.  Those life experiences drove the way we interacted with one another.  That’s natural.  It created some sweet and rough spots in our relationship.  And with those…we grew.

Memories are like baggage we carry, but how heavy the baggage is depends on how you process and perceive the memories, good or bad.  So as my husband and I talked about our thoughts, we agreed on one thing.  You just can’t stay in your thoughts too long.  You know the thoughts…wonder if he’s really happy with me…wonder if I am enough…wonder if I’m really happy…am I truly satisfied with my life and who I have become???  Sometimes…no all the time, you have to take your thoughts captive (I Corinthians 10:5).  You must bring them into submission to Christ.  And with Christ in you, you have the power to make a thought submit.  What does that mean?  It means tossing out the trash & fixing your perspective.  It means, you decide, “I’m happy, you’re happy.  Let’s just live our life.”  As my husband said, “I try not to think too much about ‘those things’ & just live life.”

I say all this to say that looking back is not always a bad thing.  Just don’t look back so long that you lose your today or even your tomorrow.  God is a forward-moving god.  His intent is for us to continue to grow, learn, and move forward.  When we stay one place too long, we limit God.  We limit Him with our thoughts, our words, and our attitudes.  Have you or anyone you know ever consistently said, “I can’t do this or that.  This is just who I am.”  Maybe you are guilty of saying, “I can’t handle this.  I’m weak.”  Or maybe you have said, “I’ll never do ___________.  I’ve always just been __________.”  These statements limit God.  They are based on staying in our past, memories, or thoughts too long.  These statements are an indication that you are allowing your memories to dictate to you who you are to become.  We can’t let our thoughts dictate us.  We (through the power of Christ) dictate to our thoughts.  Just who’s the boss here???  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m guilty.  Maybe you remember the description of me in my ‘About’ page, “a Southern country girl with shyness and timidity turned city girl living out loud”.  My memories of my past tell me that I am shy and timid.  When I look back, I see the quiet, insecure little girl I once was.  I see the girl that could never speak out especially not in front of a group or crowd of people.  For years, I said to myself, “I CAN’T speak in front of people.”  I said, “I will NEVER be able to minister to others.  I’m too shy.  I’m too insecure.”  I could have stayed there (still visit there from time to time).  I could have said, “This is just who I am.”  Some days, I still have to tell myself to look at things differently.  Changing the way I looked at things was all about learning to see myself and my memories through a Jesus-perspective.  Looking at my memories with gratefulness…yes, even the bad ones, made the difference.  God didn’t cause all the bad stuff to happen, but He did put in me what I needed to get through it.  Not only that, but He took those things and raised me up into a stronger woman.  I can look back and say, “Wow!  I learned a lot from that experience.”

Maybe you have something in your past that you just can’t get over.  Do you find yourself thinking about it regularly, maybe even daily?  When you think about it, what do you think?  Do you look at the memory in only the confines of the time and circumstances that you experienced it?  Take your memories on the journey with you (pack light), don’t leave them right where they began.  Bring them into the present to enable you to grow from them and move forward.  I believe bringing your memories to the here & now takes away their power to control & limit you.  Learn to say, ‘this is where I have been, but this is not who I am.  I have always been this, this & this, but that doesn’t mean I can’t become more.  God works all things for my good, and He’s making me into who He would have me be.’  Go ahead!  Say it to yourself now…

Lord, I thank you for allowing me my life’s experiences, good and bad.  You have enabled me to learn, to grow and to become stronger.  I trust you to use my memories and the things of my past to catapult me into being the woman you created me to be.  I am Yours & I can do ALL things through the power You placed in me.  No more will I say I can’t or will never be able to.  Because I know that with you I can and will according to Your power and Your will.  Lord, empower my brothers & sisters in Christ to say this prayer today.

Praise the Lord!  I am rescued and delivered!

I can move forward because He is ordering my steps…

not my past…not my circumstances…not my personality!

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every though to make it obedient to Christ.”   2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

“And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.”  Romans 8:28 (AMP)

“I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose – I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.].”  Philippians 4:13 (AMP)

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