I love that most of the communication between people is the exchange of stories. Old stories (childhood), new stories (“Let me tell you about the day I had!”), glory stories (“Best day of my life!”), mystery stories (“You won’t believe what happened!”) – each life is comprised of thousands of stories bound together.
My brain responds readily to information related as a story. I understand it more quickly, I retain it more easily and I recall it in greater detail. The Lord gave me a love for stories and a mind to process them. But I have struggled to come to terms with the entirety of my own story.
It is one thing to receive forgiveness for my whole life and another thing entirely to follow the Holy Spirit into individual memories, facing the stories that haunt me. I rue many a thought and choice and word and deed, and it is an agony to relive them. How can I find peace in accepting these stories, much less believe in their being redeemed1 by God?
At first I thought that I was revisiting my painful past because I hadn’t really received forgiveness for what I’d done. Then I thought that I hadn’t forgiven myself for what I’d done because of pride. Well, both were valid and required a deeper work of surrender. But some stubborn stories remain that I can’t quite put to rest. Some of the things that I’ve done (or allowed to be done) or that have been done to me left marks deeper than others. Heart-wounds that need healing, black gashes on my very soul often put there by my own hand. I really didn’t know what else to do. Then I came across this verse:
Don’t consider yourself to be wise;
fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
This will be healing for your body
and strengthening for your bones.
I was astonished to discover that simply fearing the Lord (in the Amplified: reverently fear and worship the Lord) and turning away from evil would be healing for me. Having reverence and awe for God, and accepting that He is sovereign and I am completely at His mercy, isn’t something that I have to do or accomplish or perform. I know my Father’s kindness and I know His wrath, and I treasure both as the depth of His love for me. When I’m in the reality that God is GOD and I’m just me, then fearing Him is my natural heart condition and His healing can come.
I now have more and more peace and grace over my story, and I did nothing to bring that into effect. He is doing all of it quite apart from my awareness and in His own time, seemingly while I sleep at night. Little by little, my Father is redeeming my life story and healing my heart. And every day, my choice to accept and even love my story is less of a struggle and more a reality.
1A secondary definition of redeem: to free from what distresses or harms