We all have a story. Sometimes our stories can be littered with mistakes and shame. Sometimes they can be full of life, purpose, meaning, and joyful moments. Sometimes they can be dark, scary, and traumatic. They can be short or long, deep or shallow.There is a great emphasis in many therapeutic settings today on sharing your story. This is (in its most ethical fashion) to help you, not to hurt you. To revisit your story may seem unnecessary to you, or maybe even counterproductive. You may even quote something like, “Forget the former things. Behold, I am doing a new thing” (Isaiah 43:18-19).
Of course, it is up to you whether you revisit the past, but if you are struggling with symptoms of your past trauma, the hurt of a former betrayal, or shame from an old sin, among other things, then you may find it to be therapeutic and restorative to revisit your story. That look at the past may be exactly what you need to move forward with purpose, confidence, and healing.
It seems appropriate to meditate on Psalm 139:1-16 to see where you fit in God’s story:
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
And are acquainted with all of my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
And lay your hand on me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and
Dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there your hand shall lead me,
And your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me
And the light about me be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to you;
The night is bright as the day,
For darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts;
You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret,
Intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
You saw my unformed substance;
In your book were written, every one of them,
The days that were formed for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
No matter what has unfolded along the way in your story, you can be sure of one thing: God authored it. Scripture is clear on this. He knows you intimately – better than you know yourself. But He also knows that sometimes your story can keep you from being able to walk forward to where He is calling you to go. Your story can hinder or even paralyze you.
God authored your story, but the enemy has and will continue to do everything he can do to take and destroy it. He does this through traumatic experiences, temptations, sins, broken relationships, betrayals and hurts, mismanaged emotions, self-deprecating thoughts, and doubts about God. He has done his best to make his mark on your story.
Dan Allender says this: “Whether we revisit the past or not, who we are today is profoundly shaped by the events of our lives and our responses to those events. Our stories impact us either unconsciously or consciously. It’s up to us whether we’ll be passive recipients or active agents in the shaping of our lives.”
Going back to reflect on what has been can lead to healing from what is broken, and genuine change in the days ahead. Going back can be a tough journey. It can bring up memories you thought (or wished) you had forgotten.
It can be emotionally and physically exhausting. The point of walking through and telling your story is not to relive the hurt and get angry all over again with someone who once betrayed you. (Note that if you do, you probably have not really healed from that experience.)
The point of going back is for you to look at your journey. To see where you were and how far you have come – to see how God has been faithful to you. It is to see where your current tendencies came from. It is to see what your relationships with family and friends were like, where they went wrong. It is to show you things that were in the dark, to enlighten you, to help you see yourself, and to help you grow and heal and see restoration in broken places.
There are moments in your life that may be better left behind, but there are some that have lingering effects today. Maybe it is time to be brave and share your story.
Journaling as a Means of Reflection
It would be worth your while to walk through the workbook previously mentioned by Dan Allender with a counselor or spiritual mentor because he helps guide you through the process of writing your story down.
He encourages writing because it “makes them [the stories] more real . . . .” This is a powerful practice, but it should not be done alone. Going back alone can keep you back and it can re-traumatize you. Going back with a trusted person can help you move forward in a safe way.
Christian Counseling as Part of the Healing Process
A professional Christian counselor can be very helpful as you seek to process your story and move forward in a positive, life-giving way. Your counselor will be able to guide you through the challenges from your past and set you on a trajectory toward lasting healing and hope.
There are some very helpful forms of therapy that can help bring healing from our past stories, like EMDR, Narrative Therapy, and Trauma-focused CBT. Ask your counselor to help you understand each one and if it could benefit you.
Your story does not have to paralyze you anymore. There is hope and there is tomorrow.
If you’d like help working through your story or healing from past hurt, broken relationships, trauma, or other concerns, feel free to contact me or one of the other counselors in the counselor directory to schedule an appointment.
Allender, Dan B., Ph.D. and Fann, Lisa K, MA. To be Told: God Invites You to Co-author your Future. Workbook.Photos:
“Black Favorit Typewriter”, Courtesy of Florian Klauer, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Reading Proverbs”, Courtesy of Joel Muniz, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Difficult roads…beautiful destinations”, Courtesy of Hello I’m Nik, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Talking”, Courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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