It happens when I least expect it. When I’m driving south on I-35, passing through a small Texas town, when the words of a certain country song swirl around me. In a split second I begin to think about what used to be and forget about what is.
People don’t prepare you for the identity crisis that happens once you become a mom. You quit your job to stay home and you lose a sense of who you are somewhere between diaper change 100 and 150.
Some days I wake up, look in the mirror, and wonder how I got where I am today.
I know I’m not here by accident. I know that being John’s wife and Jackson’s mommy is what He planned for me before either of those things ever crossed my mind – but some days I look back on who I used to be, remembering moments from my past, and I wonder…and that is a dangerous thing.
Before John there was a guy who was like a drug to me. An addiction so strong that only God could break it, and He did, when I finally surrendered and cried out in desperation after two turbulent years.
I loved this guy, but God never intended love to be toxic. He never intended love to be a constant state of trying to keep from drowning in your tears. In my heart I know those days were full of sin and not near as glamorous as my imagination tries to trick me into believing.
But there are days when I think of him and the girl I was all those years ago, because there are days when I desperately want to be that care free girl again. I want to slip on my boots, get lost in the words of a country music song as I glide across the dance floor, and sing in front of a crowd of admirers. I want to jump in the truck and sing, “I bet this road will take me outta here…” as we twist and turn through the back roads of Texas.
Those thoughts are dangerous. They lead my mind to places it should never go.
The Bible says I should forget the former things – that I shouldn’t dwell on the past, but instead focus on what God is doing NOW . (Isaiah 43:18)
In Mended, Angie Smith says that in the moments when we are tempted to remember parts of our past that we probably shouldn’t be dwelling on, we should “ask the Lord to remind you right now that there is a reason you have left that life behind. It has been swallowed by grace. And you need not miss what He has for you by believing there is something worth going back for. Leave it be….when you stare at what might have been, you are immobilized, unable to bring Him the glory He deserves.”
She goes on to say, “There is often the temptation to remember it differently from what it really was. If there was a season of sin in your past that you remember with any fondness, you can be sure Satan wants to keep it dressed up in fancy clothes.”
And that’s how it is for me. That man that I loved so desperately, who never loved me quite the same, was not healthy for me. It wasn’t a fairy tale relationship; more like a disaster waiting to happen. It was long, tearful, drives home on I-35 every weekend. It was two very broken people trying to replace God with carefree nights in a local bar – dancing, singing, and desperate for love.
When I truly begin to remember those days for what they really were, I am reminded that God’s grace saved me. I was on a rocky road leading to disaster. It is only because of His grace that I am the person I am today.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:4-9)
Are you ever tempted to look back on your past? Do you wish you could go back to that place even when you know it wasn’t as good as you are remembering it to be? When you’re tempted remember the words from Isaiah…”Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”