It’s Time to Stop Beating Up Your Younger Self
Updated: Feb 19, 2021
Or should I call this “Messy Musings of Musty Mayhem?” Insert eye roll. My addiction to alliteration can be awful.
When I look back, way back, it looks bleak back there. I get stuck in a thorny patch. Why is that? It wasn’t all bad, but sometimes my vision is myopic, introspective, me-focused in that narrow place. After forty plus years, you’d think I would have gained more perspective.
Or have I?
I’ve found freedom from painful memories and those triggers aren’t being pushed like they used to. Have I simply not given this hard-fought perspective words yet, so it can be shared? Even with myself, especially with myself.
Words bring clarity.
Revelation is a deep spiritual knowing, but my understanding is unfruitful until I can communicate it. A little help here, Father, because broadcasting truth is my heart’s desire. But until I KNOW the truth, that knowledge is hidden and not transferable.
How have I taken this long to stop beating up my younger self?
She didn’t know what to do when family trauma ripped her world apart. Was being the firstborn enough reason to feel the weight and responsibility to make it work, to set things right? How can I still feel the despair I experienced when trusted adults, trusted neighbors, trusted doctors couldn’t fix my mother’s drinking problem or save my parents’ marriage.
They were the adults. Why didn’t someone know what to do and do it?
Age brings perspective. I’m the adult now, and I don’t always know what to do.
I wish I didn’t know how messy life can be.
Even after decades of healthy and mostly happy family relationships, witnessing other's turmoil causes the chaos to come crashing back. I don’t live in it now, but I feel their mayhem. I understand their agony.
Is that the point? Did I need to understand what they are going through? I don’t really want to feel that way again. But burying my heart in the sand won’t make other people’s problem disappear. I wish I could fix it, but I know I can’t.
But I’m not helpless anymore. I know a big God and I can take it to Him.
I don’t live in the pain and I haven’t for a long time. Thank God. Quite literally, thanking God because He is the answer to life’s inevitable craziness, at least the madness resulting from a sin problem systemic to humankind. And God provided the solution for sin in the personhood of Jesus Christ.
I remember wrestling as a freshman college student with the world’s issues, myriad faiths, cultures, and perspectives on life. At a Christian university, my beliefs were challenged by my religion professors. I wanted to make sense of everything. Fat chance. Acceptance that my faith was personal, mine alone, was key. I didn’t need to resolve beliefs for everyone.
I was only responsible for me.
Profound, I know. *sigh* What can I say? I was a teenager.
But the revelation still holds true all these years later. I’m still only responsible for me. Even after raising two children, their choices are their own. My husband and I conveyed truth and lived our faith before them, but we each will one day stand before God and give an account for ourselves. Only me. No one else. How I lived my life, the words I spoke, the deeds I acted upon, the love I shared, the truth I communicated, the obedience I walked out, the lives I influenced. It will all hang out there, visible, true.
I am the only one responsible for me. You are the only one responsible for you.
On judgment day, when God looks me in the eye, the good, the bad, and the ugly will be revealed. Yes, covered by the blood of Jesus, secure in my salvation, but responsible for my choices, nonetheless.
I want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Not – “why didn’t you…?”
Okay. Let’s do this now, God, in this life. I don’t want to be just saved from the fire. I don’t want to stand before you with the smell of smoke wafting off me. I want your sanctifying presence to purge me from the inside out, so the grace of God glows from the inside of me.
Oh, what am I asking? Refining happens in the heat of trials. That doesn’t sound pleasant.
Are you cleaning me up just for you? Or is there something you want to do through me for others? Either way is fine with me. I used to think, back in my foolish youth, that I was destined for big things.
Now I know I am.
But the big thing is YOU! I was destined to live my life in your love. That makes me happy. You make me happy.
That’s bigger than big. You are more than enough.
But Father, give me a clue. What are you doing right now? Why does it feel like smoke and mirrors, a carnival house of illusion?
Why are you bringing up that snagging, dark time in my life? I feel like I got it all wrong then, and I didn’t handle it like I should have. But did I learn and grow? Did I forgive and gain wisdom? Is there fruit here I can give others to eat now?
Addiction is a nasty beast. Not unbeatable, but nasty and destructive. I hate addiction, but I love the addicted person. That was a grand revelation from your throne room. You hate sin, but you love the sinner.
Only you can bring order out of chaos.
Only you can turn a stinking mess into a glowing masterpiece and bring hope from the hopeless depths of darkness.
Only you can turn a selfish sinful heart into a selfless serving one.
Thank God I know that God.
That has made all the difference.