Sometimes as a writer, you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable in order to share your story to encourage others. This lesson by far is one of the hardest for me to share because it forced me to take a look back on some places and people I would rather forget. I have been thinking about the places I have revisited both physically and emotionally within the past year. As I reflect on these places I noticed a command thread. All these places have been a pain point in my life. It leaves me asking, does God allows us to revisit the places and people that have caused us pain to see how we will conduct ourselves?
As I pondered this question in my heart I remember the story of a man in the Bible who was rejected by his brothers because his mother was considered to be a harlot. He was put out of his father’s house because his mother was different, a strange woman according to the text. The reason I remembered the story is not because he or his mother was mistreated but the fact that when his brothers found themselves in need of help, they went seeking for him. This story is recorded in the book of Judges chapter eleven, about Jephthah. Judges 11: 1-3, Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, but he was the son of a harlot; and Gilead begot Jephthah. 2 Gilead’s wife bore sons; and when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out, and said to him, “You shall have no inheritance in our father’s house, for you are the son of another woman.” 3 Then Jephthah fled from his brothers and dwelt in the land of Tob; and worthless men banded together with Jephthah and went out raiding with him.
I believe that sometimes God allows us to revisit the places that have caused us pain in order to test our growth and give us a chance for reconciliation. He uses it as an opportunity to demonstrate His grace and mercy towards us. We also learn the power of forgiveness and experience His peace.
Judges ll: 4-8 reads; 4 It came to pass after a time that the people of Ammon made war against Israel. 5 And so it was, when the people of Ammon made war against Israel, that the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. 6 Then they said to Jephthah, “Come and be our commander, that we may fight against the people of Ammon.” 7 So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Did you not hate me, and expel me from my father’s house? Why have you come to me now when you are in distress?” 8 And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “That is why we have turned again to you now, that you may go with us and fight against the people of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”
Though Jephthah was hesitant to go with the elders, he didn’t allow his pain to forget who he was. He did not forget that God was with him. He agreed to help and fight on behalf of his people, Israel, but not before he confirms their word before the Lord.
Judges 11: 9-11
So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you take me back home to fight against the people of Ammon, and the Lord delivers them to me, shall I be your head?” 10 And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord will be a witness between us, if we do not do according to your words.” 11 Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words before the Lord in Mizpah.
Like Jephthah I too, have asked, why should I help when you hated me. Yet I never forget who I was and always depend on the Father for His strength to be able to do what has been asked of me. Though it is never easy we can rise above the hurt and pain when we allow God to do His work in us.
I know the pain I felt because of experiences in my life, and because of it, I told myself I will not fall prey to these situations any longer. As a result, I’ve learned to evaluate my experiences and my responses to see if I had chosen to respond in a different way would the outcome have been different. I realize that oftentimes my responses had they had been different I could have avoided some of the hurts and pain I had to endure.
Making mistakes is a part of life’s growth process. When we fail to learn from our mistakes we fail to grow as an individual. If we never identify and confront the fault that lies within us, we will always blame others for our problems. Though I understand that some of the problems we face are beyond our control we must learn to identify the difference between the two. Not accepting or acknowledging responsibility for our actions will cause us to live continually indulging in self-pity and sabotage. I had to come to terms with the fact that my actions though justified at times could have yielded different results if I had responded differently.
As I acknowledge this aspect of my life it brought clarity and freedom knowing if I should encounter any situation similar to that of my past I will be able by the grace of God to respond in a way that will cause a peaceful resolution. I cannot credit myself to such realization but give God thanks for His work within me. If it wasn’t for His grace and revealed wisdom I would not be able to search my heart and to know my ways. My prayer for you who is reading is for you to experience the same freedom from hurt and pain as I have. You have to allow yourself to evaluate the situation that caused you pain, and ask yourself what if anything could have done differently and what would have been the outcome. If you discover a different way or action, allow yourself to embrace what you have learned during the process. Having the ability to see a different response or resolution, if possible is essential to personal development
Purpose for the Process
While the Lord was processing me through some painful experiences in my life I must be honest, I would rather keep them locked away in the cold dark chambers of my heart than revisit the painful memories. When I was a little girl I always wanted to do the things I saw my brothers doing. One of the childish things we did was catching bees. My experience wasn’t so pleasant. I got stung by a bee and my hand was swollen for a week. I couldn’t go to school because I wasn’t able to use my hand to write. That was a painful week for me and as painful as it was I would rather relive that week a thousand times than having to go through the process of revisiting my “places of pain.” When I look at my hand I still see the scar from the bee sting, but I don’t feel any pain nor can I relive how I felt when it happened. As I was going through the healing process I felt every emotion I experienced from past hurts as if it had just happened.
Why would God take me through this process knowing I would be kicking and screaming like a child who has to go to the doctor to get a vaccine shot?
In the book of John 15: 1- 2 Jesus said, “I am the vine and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He (the Father) takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
Revisiting the places of pain is a form of pruning. God wants us to grow and be fruitful in His Kingdom, thus He takes us through a process to refine us. He wants to make sure everything we have locked away and buried in our hearts is uprooted so we are not walking around with unhealthy trigger points. A trigger point is a point of reference; emotional or psychological that was established because of a certain experience in our lives. These trigger points can be healthy or unhealthy depending on the type of experience you had. It is what dictates how we respond to certain situations. This is why the Apostle Paul admonishes us in Romans chapter 8: 12-14 to live by the Spirit and not by the flesh in order to put to death the deeds of the flesh.
Sometimes people treat us badly because they feel threatened by us. It is not always about something you did or didn’t do but the mere fact that God has a purpose for your life and the enemy will use anyone and any situation to sift the life out of you in an attempt to hinder you from what God has destined for you. In Exodus chapter one, we read about how Pharaoh was afraid of the children of Israel because they grew strong and increased in the land of Egypt. It was because of this fear that he turned them into slaves. It was out of fear he told the midwives to kill the newborn babies, especially the boys (Exodus 1:8-17).
Time for Healing
Revisiting painful places and memories is a part of the pruning process. The Father loves us and cannot leave us in a hurtful state. When we are hurting, we build walls of protection, sometimes the walls we build to keep us from getting hurt are usually the same walls that prevent us from experiencing His love.
If you are hurting today, surrender your pain to the Father and allow Him to prune you for a greater purpose. It will not be easy, but you can lean on the Holy Spirit for strength as you allow Him to walk you through the process.
There is no doubt that someone who hurt you will one day need your help. How will you respond? Will you allow your hurt and pain to keep you from demonstrating God’s love and mercy? Have the spirit of Jephthah and take their request before the Lord and allow Him to lead you.
May the Shalom of Adonai rest upon you and give you strength.
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