Last week I had an enjoyable conversation with an elderly lady (she was eighty-seven years young). My initial impression was that she had peace and joy in her life, but as we talked, I could see a sadness in her eyes that betrayed some inner turmoil. We started with small talk, which included the weather, food and gas prices. After a while, she opened up and mentioned that she had been struggling because thoughts of her past kept popping up. Her husband of fifty-seven years left her over ten years ago, one of her children died early in their marriage, and five years ago, a grandchild died. She had mourned all those tragedies but mentioned that recently thoughts of those events had popped into her mind, and the grief was overwhelming.
My new friend had been attending church since childhood and stated she trusted scripture and God’s promises. I listened as she spilled out her sorrow. She was not seeking advice from me but just wanted someone to listen to her. She talked about her prayers and said that when she spoke with God, she asked Him, “Give me one more hour of your comfort and presence so I can endure these thoughts.” She sought solace in God and shared Psalm 16:11 (NLT), “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”
Focusing on past events may leave little room in your heart and mind for new experiences, including those that may bring you joy—focusing on the “what ifs” may lead you to repeatedly engage in the same negative inner conversations and scenarios. She wisely shared that thinking about what happened wouldn’t change the past, but she just wanted to gracefully endure the moments when our past disturbs us.
Sometimes when you’ve hurt long enough, you may get used to the emotional pain. It may feel safe and familiar. You may have internalized it as part of your identity. Anger at past events can become comfortable, but anger is never soothing for your soul.
Getting away from the things you’ve felt and thought about for a long time is not as easy as saying, “They don’t bother me”; the past is tough to forget. Scripture shares healing, joy and peace of mind may be on the other side of letting go, even if it is just for one hour.
My friend reminded me that in our time of need, our Father is waiting patiently for us to go to Him for comfort, and He wants to hear all.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus”. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)