"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)
Fearful. Betrayed. Abandoned. Unwanted. Unloved. Unworthy.
Words that formed shadows from a past that would haunt me for years. A past that would hold me hostage and keep me from fully living in the light of God's love.
Fearful as I watched a hot plate of spaghetti thrown across the kitchen. Fearful as I watched furniture crash against walls. Fearful when my dad fell to the ground a few feet from my mom after he'd swung at her and lost his balance.
Betrayed after my intoxicated father sat me on the back of a horse without a saddle or reins to hold, and then swatted the horse, which sent it galloping. Betrayed as I heard him laugh with his friends as I sailed through the air and landed on a barbed wire fence.
Abandoned and unwanted when my dad filed divorce papers and failed to even get my name and birthday correct on them. Abandoned each time my dad refused to pay child support. Unwanted as years went by without visits, phone calls, hugs, birthday gifts.
Unloved and unworthy each time my dad broke his promise ... to visit, to call, to show up for my high school graduation, to pay for college.
Fearful, betrayed, abandoned, unwanted, unloved and unworthy. Words and emotions that I let define me and cast shadows over me until last year.
Through several of my pastor's sermons and after a friend's father passed away, I sensed God asking: How would you feel and what would you do if your dad were to die this very day?
I had no answer. I didn't know or really even think I liked my dad, much less loved him. Fifteen years had gone by since I'd seen him.
Around that same time, God challenged me with two words: choice and accept.
I had a choice and I made it. Following God's nudging, on July 1, 2011, I went to see my father and accepted him for who he is.
In doing so, for the first time ever, I was able to choose to accept my past. God showed me I could not change my dad or my past, but I could choose to walk out of the shadows of their marks on my life.
One of my first steps, after acceptance, was praying for my dad. When I started praying for him and choosing to forgive him, the shadows of darkness - the shadows of my past - started to lift.
God then showed me I had more choices to make: a choice to believe He is who He says He is. A choice to believe His promises; a choice to believe I was worth dying for. It was up to me to choose to be filled with His joy; to let Him be my Father; to live in the security of His unconditional love.
I had to make the choice to walk out of the darkness of doubt and defeat, and live in the light of His truth.
It's been over a year since I started making those choices. And I still have to make them 24/7. Not just on Sundays. Not just at 9 a.m. when my day starts. I have to choose constantly.
So I get up every morning and choose to believe God is a Promise Keeper. I make the choice to believe He loves me like no other can or will, to pray for my dad, to let go of the anger.
There are days, even minutes, we won't make the right choices. But when we do, we live as the chosen people we are. Children of God who have been called to declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.
Dear Lord, thank You for Your truth that sets me free. Thank You that You have called me out of the darkness and into Your light. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources: Although we can't go back and change circumstances or relationships that hurt us, we can process our pain with Jesus. In her book, A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises, Renee Swope shows you how to find confident hope for your future despite the pain and disappointment of your past.
Reflect and Respond: Are you tired of living in the shadows of your past?
Make a list of the doubts that hold you in bondage to your past. Pray and ask God to reveal His promises to you and then help you replace those doubts with His promises.
Power Verses: John 8:12b, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (NIV)
Ephesians 5:8-9, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)." (NIV)
© 2012 by Donna Bostick. All rights reserved.
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