“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
The past is the hardest to forget especially if it was traumatic. I try not to dwell in it, but it is so difficult not to when you’ve only known pain. Certain doubts are triggered by certain memories. I don’t know how and why negative feelings can lead to my childhood memories when I clearly know they have no connection. Though I know fears and doubts only have one goal, I still let myself drown in them. I am an expert at self-pity, but I also know when I am doing it. I allow myself to get into this position then I wipe myself off and rise up.
I know if I let myself stay in it for too long, I will destroy myself. The past can damage my true identity if I let it. The past can blind me from the truth of who I truly am in the eyes of God— if I let it. The failed past relationships I’ve had do not dictate my worth. God can use these doubts to overcome my battles. Just as God used Gideon’s doubts to save Israel:
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
He will walk with me in my darkest past and come out victorious. I only have to listen to God and who I am to Him. God didn’t create me only to watch me destroy myself. He knows I am weak, but He also knows He is my strength.
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?”
Fifteen years ago, I was placed in an orphanage in the Philippines. It was there that I was introduced to the true identity of Jesus Christ. Growing up Catholic, of course, I knew who He was. But not the way I do now. When the staff started telling me who He is and what He has done since the beginning of time, I started to ask questions. As an 11 year old, I wondered why He says He loves us and yet, I was living in poverty and now an orphan. If He really loves us, why did I have to go through what I went through?
I know how it feels to be in Gideon’s shoes. Sometimes I still ask God why I went through so much hardships in life. God may not directly answer the ‘why’s,’ but He always shows me. He shows me His power. He shows me He has never forsaken me. I try to recall the moments when He interjected at the right time. Then I remind myself the importance of faith; it means knowing God’s help will come.
I have always been curious so I don’t think I’ll stop asking God questions. Renee Swope reminded me that it is never wrong to ask God as long as it doesn’t create distance between us. It might not always mean asking for answers, but for wisdom and understanding. I have never allowed it to question my belief. I remember my high school teacher once said that if you don’t start asking about your own faith then you are not growing. Since then, I have asked myself where I am spiritually to progress and focus on God more.
I understand life is full of ups and downs. I may not always be able to understand the ways of God, but I do know He will always be by my side. At times, it may be hard to lean on Him when life is hard, but I try to remember His promises to those who love and trust Him.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.”
When God calls me to do something I feel like I won’t be able to do, my automatic answer is “why”. Like a toddler needing reasons for matters that don’t make sense. I need an explanation for everything I don’t have understanding of. Although, I know that if the Lord provides me an answer. Like Jonah, I would flee. He knows I would not do it. He knows it would be too much for me. Yet, one of the reasons I know I would flee is because I am only surveying my strength and overlooking the power of God.
When God calls me and my confidence is not in Him, the criticisms that were thrown upon me start to overflow. All that I am in the eyes of God disappear. My body slowly feels the heaviness of this burden that I will never be good enough. My head looks down in embarrassment. My heart, oh, but my heart can feel all the painful memories of my childhood. I shatter to pieces as I remember the piercing words that were used to identify me by the man who stated how much he adored me. Then I remember my daughter. My first born that I didn’t have the ability to raise and love. I inflict these sufferings on myself until I cannot fight any longer. When I start to look up to God with teary eyes, I remember all the wonders of what God can do and His promises.
Swope reminded her readers about Gideon who doubted he could do what God called him to do. Gideon was doubtful of himself and God. When God revealed His power to Him, Gideon became confident of himself. Swope empathetically advised to remember I must not focus on what I cannot do, but what God can do. She added that I must figure out what triggered these doubts and be honest to God about them. It will not be easy, but it’s a process I am willing to pursue.
I was created in His own image. I can do all things because of Him. He promises that I will prosper. I will overcome these uncertainties when I put my confidence in the Lord.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”
1 Peter 2:9
Renee Swope illustrated a perfect example of a shadow of doubt. The shadow of doubt that I create myself because I face the wrong direction. I have choices to make and sometimes, I choose the shadow because I fear its size. Swope stated that shadows are made when the light has been blocked. This light is God’s truth. If I turn towards the light, I would only see God’s truth. But it is not so easy to do.
When I am overwhelmed, it is so easy to turn towards the shadow of my doubts. The fear that I am not good enough. My insecurities of my physical features and financial situation. The mistakes I’ve made. Who I was before I was adopted. It’s difficult to turn towards God’s truth because when I am covered in lies, I shackle myself with them too. I stare and stare into the shadow creating a pool of my tears hoping I can drown in them too. In my mind, I would believe the whispers that disappearance is the only solution. I would believe the lies that others would love to see me defeated. It is then I turn to the light and remember that God did not die on the cross for me so I can surrender to the darkness. He died for me because He loves me. He died for me because He sees value in me. He died for me because I am His.
I can choose to face the shadows to tell me how unworthy I am. I can face the shadow to cover me with doubts. Or I can choose to face the light with the shadow behind me. I can face the light and be covered in truth. The truth that I am His special possession. The only valid truth I need to believe and remember.