I was sitting in the dentist office, that in itself is not a happy time. They were taking pictures, X-rays, to be exact. When the dentist came in, she asked an odd question.
She asked, "Do you remember a time when you hurt your teeth? Your front teeth are dead, well the roots are, at least. You would have been eight or maybe nine."
"No," I replied with a laugh.
It was the truth. At the time, I could think of no such time when I had suffered trauma to my teeth. However, the question made me start thinking.
Memories that I had hidden in the dark recesses of my mind swept over me like a flood. These were not happy memories of playing with friends, riding my bike, or walking in the woods. No, these were memories of not fitting in, of being teased, of being pushed off swings, and being blamed for things that I didn't do.
As I thought about it, I said, "People made me an introvert."
As these memories flooded into my consciousness, I remembered exactly how my teeth had been traumatized. The truth is, my teeth were not the only thing traumatised. My personality has been shaped by those experiences.
Those experiences and many more experiences shaped who I am today.
As I write this, I'm reminded of what Paul says in Philippians "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,"
While it is true that the past shapes us, we are shaped by our past; we are to let it BE the past. I can look at those things and see how they shaped me and when the past starts to cripple me, I run to God and ask him to take the pain.
Often, in those times, I gain a new understanding of the situation. As God and I talked.
God said, "They were kids." That perspective allows me to extend grace to the one who hurt me.
I know that I will likely need to talk with God about it again in the future because it's hard to forget, but like Paul, the past cannot hold me hostage.
Forgetting is active; it's something we have to do sometimes every day. It's rarely ever a one-time thing.
Why? because we cannot divorce oneself from our past, but we can learn from it. We can use it to understand WHY we act and react in certain ways.
We may have been traumatized in the past, but the past does not have to traumatize the present or the future. Run to the one who can turn the trauma into a scar and heal.