I sought the Lord
and required Him,
and He heard me,
and delivered me
from all my fears.
When we meet people, we should never attempt to impose our thoughts into their minds. We cannot know with any certainty what another person is thinking. By imposing our past-focused worldview upon another we do not contribute to a better understanding of life. If anything, we deprive ourselves of any possibility of learning from another person’s experience. We see what we want to see and nothing else.
What happens when you accidentally touch a pan of boiling water? Or when you are walking along the street and out the corner of your eye you catch sight of an object rapidly moving towards you? The majority of people would automatically recoil and try to move away from the danger. Our brains are designed to react quickly against perceived threats. We do not need time to think in either of the described situations. Instead, our brains react to keep our bodies safe. This is an unconscious reaction. An act of self-preservation.
These unconscious reactions serve us well and keep us safe. If we had to process every single piece of information we receive on a daily basis, we would be unable to function. We would become paralyzed and nothing would ever be done. However, sometimes our brains do not act in our best interests. As humans, we operate at a higher cognitive level than other species that can only react to external stimulus. We must exercise good judgment. We must seek the Spirit of God when it comes to becoming aware of our own reality.
When we become aware of the big impact that the past has on our present, we can fully engage in the present instead of subjecting ourselves to what I call the “invasion.” It is an invasion because it is truly a battle that takes place within our mind; it is warfare and we are poorly equipped to fight it if we do not know the Word of God. When we continuously view things and circumstances from a past-time perspective, we remain stuck in that time frame; our choices and decisions are strongly compromised.
We try to walk on and live our lives, but the past will never stop its intrusion. Maybe we catch a glance from an old acquaintance we randomly encounter in the street; suddenly the past has come back into our lives. We imagine they are looking at us in a criticizing manner and judging us. Even if we have not seen this person for many years, the inner voice in our head says: “Oh, look. I bet he/she is talking about me, I bet he/she is thinking about all those past years.
So we start to avoid certain places or groups of people. We want to leave the past behind us, but how is this possible if it continues to rear its head whenever we leave home? Wherever we go, we are continually reminded of these past transgressions or of a period of time in our lives during which we lived a careless life.
If we attempt to turn the corner and walk towards the Lord, then someone will pop up to remind us of some past activity that is not in accordance with our new life and self-image. They may mock us for seeking to shift the blame for our internal flaws onto an external factor. They may remind us of those times when we mocked the religious for being unthinking sheep who were unable to take responsibility for their own problems and instead needed to rely on a mystical world view that had more place in a world of cave dwellers than in a modern society.
Dwelling on the past can become a habit in itself. No matter how painful it is to relive the memories we frequently seek solace in those times. However, the lens of time has a tendency to distort past events. When we let our memories play on loop in our heads, we may neglect certain details; we can be prone to attribute significance to things which in reality were unrelated.
If we are in a negative place this will tinged our memories. Instead of viewing them objectively and for what they really are, we instead start to blame ourselves. Continually asking the questions: “Did I do something wrong?” “Could I have acted in a way that would have resulted in a different outcome?” It is easy to go through these questions within our mind to live out alternate courses of events. This could even be a useful exercise.
Nevertheless, it is impossible to answer these questions with certainty. Asking them eventually becomes a self-defeating exercise. We must live in the present and we cannot change what happened in the past. We must though, work on our present so as to walk towards our future, so as to be able to build ourselves a future, instead of remaining tied to our pasts. Whatever did happen took place for a reason, and we must have the good grace to accept this.
The world is fast when it comes to labeling you as a victim when something bad happens to you. This is no different from what happens with those who have experienced a bad childhood.
So many people blame their parents for the disappointments and failures of their adult life! However, these same individuals have absolutely no awareness that in reality, their past is invading their present and destroying their future. It is not their parents fault what is happening today in the present, it is their own fault allowing the past to invade and affect their present.
Failure to connect the past with its impact on your negative and unproductive current thoughts and behaviors, results in repeating and expanding the cycle of pain. In an attempt to fix your past and alleviate the hurt and longing, you keep repeating the same bad habits over and over again, to no avail. Then you get frustrated and decide that life does not matter, so, why would you keep trying, right?
Life can seem too vast, and it may seem that one single person has no chance of making a lasting impact on the world. We think that way and therefore, we accept defeat even before facing the challenge. We fill our days with activities which we tell ourselves that are valuable. We seek comfort in the trinkets and trappings of modern life, picking up things and accumulating a mountain of useless stuff. Stuff that we like to believe that define us and stuff for which we fiercely compete against each other to accumulate.
I remember being in that exact position. I felt ashamed. I felt dirty. I felt damaged. I felt overwhelmed. I felt that God did not want anything to do with me. I felt lonely. I felt used. I did not feel safe. I did not feel loved. The thought that permeated my mind was that I did not deserve to live. How could I ever look at people into their eyes?
All of a sudden, every person I came in contact with knew that I had done something bad, something terrible, and I felt very embarrassed because of that. I secluded myself as much as possible to avoid this sad experience. I kept thinking the same thoughts and doing the same actions, not believing that I could have made the required choices to change my life and stand up to those negative thoughts at that precise moment…