The Story That Makes Us

[Originally written for The Meeting Place ministry and published on their blog here.]

I recently discovered some new details about my parents’ marriage that explain so much about my family growing up. I’ve always viewed my childhood through a fog, a vague sadness that I couldn’t explain, but now I feel like I’m being brought back to the trauma of my childhood with a sharp clarity that’s smacking me in the face. I’m seeing my past, my story, in a way I’ve never seen it before.

I’m realizing that certain parts of who I am, of how I think and function in life, have been shaped by the pain of my childhood. My recurring fears, insecurities, and defenses have deep roots there, and I’m understanding the why behind many of my most frustrating behaviors. It feels like I’m seeing myself for who I really am, and I don’t like what I see. I don’t just have some bad habits; I have scars. It’s brutal. And I feel more broken now than I ever have since I first became a Christian.

Yet in the midst of it, I feel His grace. He’s with me, gently encouraging, “It’s time.”

A mentor of mine explained to me once that the most helpful step in finding healing from the past is to first move forward. For some of us, I believe God gives us a measure of grace early on in our faith that helps us do that. It’s like a veil, a gracious ignorance, where we’re somehow able to dissociate from certain crippling experiences, circumstances, habits, or scars we carry that we aren’t yet ready to confront. The brokenness sinks into the background and the problems miraculously disappear. God provides the peace we need to embrace our new identity and work on making our new life with Him. We learn, we grow, we mature, we develop new relationships, discover new purpose, and continue to build the beautiful future.

But eventually, in God’s time, the veil lifts. What we thought we’d never have to deal with again rears its ugly head. It’s frustrating because we thought we solved this and now it feels like we regressed, like we’re right back where we started, no better than what we used to be. But that’s not true. It’s only because we’ve moved forward that now we can go back. Because we’ve grown stronger and found the support we need to anchor us, it’s time to deal with our roots.

The book of Genesis tells a story about Jacob, who’s grown up to become a wealthy, successful man. One day he finds himself in a crisis, confronted by his brother Esau whom he had cheated a long time ago. Jacob is scared, and starts to pray. He spends the night wrestling with God, refusing to let Him go until he receives a blessing. Finally, God asks Jacob one thing: “What is your name?”

The last time Jacob sought a blessing, he had pretended to be someone he was not. He lied about who he was. When God asks Jacob for his name, Jacob returns to that time in his past. He remembers that he was born in second place, that his father didn’t love him, that his older brother was always the better hunter, that his mother was scheming and manipulative, and that the only way he would ever get his father’s blessing was to lie and say that he was Esau. This was what led him to become who he is—this is his story. He confesses, “My name is Jacob.”

And when Jacob faced who he was, God revealed who he would become: “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel.” As Jacob owned his past, he was gifted with his destiny.

If the truth about my parents’ marriage had hit me ten years ago, I don’t think I could have handled it. Rather than helping me understand who I am, it would have just dismantled me. I was too weak, my faith too shallow. But things are different now. I’m different. I can trust in God’s faithfulness in a way that I couldn’t before, because we’ve gone through so much together and He’s brought me so far. I can trust in His love for me, because He’s proved it a thousand times.

And so as He asks me to confront my past, I know that He’s leading me and always with me. I can lean on His goodness; I can stand in the storm. It’s hard, but feeling exposed, weak, and broken again is a price worth paying to finally accept who I am and embrace my true story.

 

4 thoughts on “The Story That Makes Us

  1. a younger sister in my church messaged me several weeks ago, about a blog i should read. “He’s a pastor friend in OC and I think you’ll enjoy his writing, you guys have very similar expression of writing,” is how she started the fb chat. i read through two of your posts and responded to her with “…wow, i’m flattered that you’d compare us, but his caliber of writing is beyond mine! i do see one resemblance: his intermittent laughs.” hahah.

    i just wanted to leave a note because i’m so wildly encouraged and comforted by your latest post. it’s of the stars. because i just found myself in a heavy season with my best friends—my parents—and i randomly came across your blog this saturday evening. And second paragraph in, my mouth gaped open and i must’ve read through the rest with tears brimming at all corners of my eyes. mouth still open. because it catered precisely to the confusion and pain i’d been faced with in the last 72 hours.

    God has absolutely blessed you in your way with words, i’m thankful you’ve been a good steward of it, and hope you continue sharing. You’d just never know who the Lord chases and tags with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. wow, thank you! exactly what I’m trying to provide, language for our experiences going deeper with God. you have a blog or something I can follow too? love to read your stuff

      Like

      1. aw wow, i honor that! really.
        and that’s kind of you, hahah, but most of my afterthoughts are shared super casually via fb. i have a blog that i ambitiously started back in 2014, but it quickly became an archived space on the world wide web. 🙂 Which is why i hold your blog in higher esteem–it requires a lot of dedication and self-motivation! Or, in your case, divine inspiration. Praying it doesn’t stop!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The first time reading this made me think about how God might’ve used a similar pattern in someone else’s life as He did in mine.
    The second read made me think about Mark 5:19. (This might have something to do with my own season lol)
    I think it’s awesome that He’s showing you just how much more He wants to pursue you.

    Liked by 1 person

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