On the wall above the desk where I write are several pictures that have meaning to me. One is of me at Easter when I was five years old.
I am smiling and wearing a fancy Easter dress with lacy socks and black patent shoes. I looked very confident in my beautiful little self on that day.
The other picture is when I was ten years old. It was December, and I sang my first solo in church – “There’s a Song in the Air.” In the picture, I’m smiling, but my smile isn’t very big or confident. My face is now round and chubby and I can see in my eyes that I don’t think I’m very pretty. This breaks my heart when I look at this picture. Part of me wants to hide it away and forget the pain of not feeling good about my young little self. This was the time when the teasing started with other kids. It was the time when dieting became a part of my life, when the obsession with food and my skewed body image would be a huge part of the rest of my life. Many years later, I look at that picture and I still know that little girl so well.
So why do I keep that on my wall as a reminder of how I felt so long ago? I mean, I have come a long, long way, right? I’m a mom and a Gram. I’m a pastor. I’m pretty sure of myself today. But there is always a sense of that little girl living in me and I feel a need to honor her and to love her. I want to remember her; to assure her that she was as valued then as I know I am now.
It’s true that the past does not define us, but it does play a big part in who we grow into. The 10-year- old me might not have been very confident, but she was kind and talented; she cared for others, even those who hurt her. She also had a developing faith and belief that God loved her and had a plan for her life.
I have this challenge to allow the past to be part of the present in a significant, meaningful way. There are things in my past that I would prefer to bury, yet they are all part of what makes me ME today. Sometimes I forget how important it is to embrace every part of my life and to stand on the promise that the Apostle Paul makes in Romans 8 – that God works all things together for good for those who love Him.
Do you have memories that cause pain? Memories that you would like to shove deep down inside? How about honoring them as a significant part of who you are? Don’t they make up the compassionate, understanding, sensitive, brave person you are today?