History isn't Destiny
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
So, I think we all have a voice in our head without being “crazy.” It will often bring shame and accusations to us, and most times won’t even wait for us to get to our second cup of coffee before we subconsciously agree with it.
“You’ll never get past your past.” or “You have a ceiling because of what was done to you.” or “Your history will define you no matter who you pretend to be.” “You’re a fraud and others will eventually find out.”
This voice is one that drags us backward, because that is where we feel the most inept and shameful. We tell ourselves, “There is no way my story will be a beautiful one because of where I came from. There is no way I can build a beautiful family, because I’ll end up just like my parents, or will become what my parents said I’d become.” This is the voice of shame - and it’s effective.
My favorite strategy has two steps. First, simple agreement. That’s right. I just agree with the voice, but maybe not for the same reason you’d think. I know I’m limited. I’ve hurt others in my past and others have hurt me. I also carry regrettable decisions as I regret things that have happened to me. My past family wasn’t perfect, and the one I’m building also isn’t perfect. But God is perfect for the imperfect.
Take the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. His history was ridiculous and full of limiters. Bad family. Bad luck? Bad opportunities? Nothing was perfectly laid out for Joseph. But God is perfect for the imperfect.
So what do we do? We agree that we are not perfect. Step two, remind yourself that the Gospel is perfect for imperfect people.
I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind & straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul wasn’t celebrating a weird selective amnesia, but a gospel forgetfulness. He didn’t ignore his history, but refused it access to define his future. His future was determined by God and his Gospel.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
For you and me, when we hear the voice in our head of our lack, we can find peace in revisiting the gospel to celebrate the mercy of it all and enjoying what it has given us. We are free to forget, and free to strain forward.
You’ll make decisions that are dumb and you’ll have regrets, and still God covers over a multitude of our worst moments with his best and most shining moment. He takes our baggage as we carry it to the cross. No longer are you defined by your past timeline. Your history is not your destiny.