This Sunday, I attended a church core retreat for the youth ministry leaders at church. I went into this retreat facing full darkness, and desire to escape it. This summer has been an ongoing nightmare with family deaths, earthy pressures, and other misfortunate events. On top of my present struggles, I was also reminded about my past. There is apart of me that I try to bury and refuse to speak about due to fear. I went into the retreat with this part of my past beginning to surface. My spirit during the retreat at first was really uplifting and I was excited to be there and mingle with all the new leaders. However, one of the ice breakers during the retreat was to write about how God has shown you love of mercy and share it with someone. Instantly flashbacks of my past began to occur and I couldn’t escape the thoughts of it. I feared sharing my testimoney to a leader I barely knew, so instead I shared a small piece of it with one of my dear friends. As the retreat continued on into the late afternoon the memories of my past continued to turn into constant flashbacks. I began to become overwhelmed and I didn’t know how to handle it because I’ve always tried to escape it. When these feelings started to reach the surface, the same dear friend I shared a piece of my testimony with had approached me to ask more about it. At this point, my heart was sinking and I feared to even share, but i knew that I had to tell him because I was no longer able to carry this cross alone. I slowly began to open up and this friend was willing to listen and was compassionate about the situation. Somehow, I was able to open up the whole story without complete hesitation. It felt strange being vulnerable to someone about my past that I had attempted to bury. Talking to my friend made me realize a lot about my past. In that area in my life where darkness fell, God gave me the grace to see his light in the mist of chaos. I realized that I should not be ashamed of the story that allowed me to be exposed to the love of God. Although, sharing this past was terrifying for me, I realized how much baggage still continued to haunt me. I was shoving this area of my life that had happened to me aside completely, in hope that history wouldn’t repeat itself and that I would never have to remember it either. It was then that I realized that I am not defined by my past. I am not defined by my past, my mistakes, of the sins that I have made.
For he rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transformed us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
If I hadn’t of had that time of darkness in my life I probably wouldn’t of had the same intimate encounter with God. The pain is still there and the fear to continuously open up about this is still current. However, I refuse to continue being ashmamed of my past because without it, I wouldn’t be heading in the direction I am today.
That same night, after everyone began heading home. Another good friend of mine could tell there was something off. At that time, I wanted nothing more than to be alone to process for the rest of the evening. As I began to back up, my friend had jumped out of her car and inside my passenger seat and said, “you need to talk, will you drive me home so we can?” I wasn’t able to fully open up to my friend as much as I did the first because I was still terrified. But that night I realized that God was sending me these beautiful people as his way of telling me, “Vanessa, you don’t have to do this alone. Allow others to help you carry this cross.”
That night, God I also realized that God sending me those two people was him telling me that it was okay to unbury this part of me and that I shouldn’t be ashamed.Complete healing is going to take time but I’m allowing myself to go to the place where I feel the safest, so I can then become vulnerable to God about this situation, to allow him to continue healing the parts of me that never quite finished healing.
Life is a journey, we all make mistakes, and we all sin. The truth is, is that if we were all perfect then we would be in heaven by now. But life is not about your sins or mistakes but the journey you take to reach salvation, to reach heaven. If you are struggling with your past, then know that your past does not define who you are and you are not your sins. If you are suffering or struggling to find your way out of darkness, whether is it has to do with addiction, mental health, or anything that is weighing you down.. Then know that you don’t have to carry your cross alone. When Jesus was walking to be crucified, Simon came to help Jesus carry his cross when he became weary. Brothers and sisters, we are all called to not judge each other, but to love and support each other so that we may carry each others crosses for when we become defeated and weary. Do not be ashamed of being vulnerable and asking for help or a listening ear. Life is a journey, but we are not meant to walk through the desert alone. Your sin, shame, and struggles do not define you. You are a child of God. You are the Son’s or Daughter’s of a King.
“Best you one another’s burdens, and fulfill the law of Christ.”