You want a History or a Past

By Ian Rowlands

In the shadow of recent events in London and elsewhere it is easy for us to become embittered, hopeless or just angry at the world and all those ‘other’ people. For us to just keep adding to the pain, anger, view the world ‘as us and them’. To continue to perpetuate the same old merry-go-round of rhetoric.

Einstein is quoted as saying: ‘…..the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result…’

On Thursday morning as I was sitting reflecting on this latest mindless attack in London I was reminded of this quote by Einstein and thinking ‘why do these terrorists keep pursuing a course of action that doesn’t work, it just adds to the general river of injustice and innocent casualties that they have cite as the reason for doing it! And then I hear so much rhetoric that is war like… that doesn’t work either…’ What is the matter with us, why can’t we can find a different way…. a better away….. a different attitude! Is there one?

Then I was reminded of this experience in my life and how it changed my perspective. I know it is simplistic to think this is the answer but I naively I hope that it could at least be part of the answer — or at the very least help us individually to live a little more freely! I hope it is helpful!

When I was ten years old I came to a realisation….. my mum was dying. She had leukaemia and I discovered she had been given six months to live.

The good thing was that my mum was a fighter and agreed to try out new treatments, many of which were really experimental with horrific side effects. She lived for 7 years. The bad thing was that both my sister and I watched as mum deteriorated before our eyes.

For me the affect of living in this uncertain and unpredictable environment, where it seemed death could strike at any minute, was to leave me with a lot of in-built insecurities, many of which I learned to manage or mask in different ways often with very extrovert behaviour. Yet all the time, deep inside, I longed to get rid of these insecurities that gripped my life and dump the past that had caused them.

After years of being a victim of these feelings and being afflicted with self doubt and bouts of depression I really started to seek God for a solution. I had been a God lover and follower for some years and had often pleaded with God to deliver me from these feelings that plagued me.

One day while I was walking the dog I was once again bemoaning the unfairness of having these insecurities. As we walked through a thickly wooded area I heard, as much as I can understand and as weird as it must sound to you, God’s audible voice asking me a question ‘Do you want a history or a past?’ It was a perplexing question — what did it mean? After some processing I came to this conclusion… my insecurities are part of who I am and to find the healing and release I needed, I had to embrace them — they needed to be part of my history, my heritage. The whole experience was part of the process that had helped forge me into the person I had become. It had helped me to be sensitive to others… to be able listen beyond words and behaviour….to have the ability to empathise. So to some extent these positive attributes and qualities had been forged and formed by my insecurities and the circumstances that had nurtured them. The key to finding freedom was to embrace the fact that I was always likely to feel insecure, but rather than be their victim, if I embraced them, I could find healing and release that would help carve out a future that overcomes them, so out of this debilitating weakness, that had plagued me I would be able to find one of my greatest strengths.

It seems to me we have a choice — we can either have a history….. those things that, good or bad, have helped form and forge us in life’s crucible, that give us a heritage and provide us with the keys and foundations to take hold of our future and not be afraid to experience it. Or we can have a past that we are constantly trying to jettison, dump, get rid of, or forget because it is too painful to embrace or face. Having a past, good or bad will hold us captive and keep us a victim, because we are either having to re-live it as circumstances remind us of it, or we are trying to constantly get rid of it.

Having a history, is a celebration of who we are and where we have come from and is now helping us to journey into our destined place because we have embraced the good and the bad. We have embraced and accepted what has happened, embraced and accepted the pain and we have tried to learn from all that we have been through. We have learned to forgive and ask for forgiveness, we have given mercy and received it; we have faced it, overcome it, cleared the rubble and built upon it or moved on.

In life I meet many individuals who are trying to get rid of a past. We see all around us people groups and even whole nations that are still trapped by their past — what others have done to them. By helping them to embrace the pain of what has been done, by helping them see it has helped nurture good things as well as bad things, by helping them forgive and let go of the hurt, the unfairness and injustice we can help them find wholeness, healing and freedom. We can help them move from a past that traps them to be able to have a history that helps release them to a productive future. A history they can celebrate and give remembrance to but more importantly embrace as the cauldron that formed them.

Firstly though, we have to deal with ourselves what are we trying to jettison or avoid or ignore or deny, what is that is stopping us from having a history? Whatever it is let’s face up to it. Perhaps there’s nothing or perhaps it’s seemingly everything but let’s take the time to reflect and ask the question and embrace it so that our past can become our history. So that we can find peace for our future place and purpose. We can be comfortable with weakness and let it become our strength.