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Don’t Look Back

What is defining you?

I’m big on this subject.. just because I feel that in this world, it is so important to find your true identity in Jesus Christ. I believe that that is truly how a follower of Jesus thinks. Not only is Jesus a big part of their life, not only is He most important, but He is truly what gives them their very worth- what truly defines them.

Sometimes, well, maybe a lot of times, people allow their wounds to define them. What has been done to them in the past, circumstances, or what they have done to themselves that has led to pain. So often, we fall into this trap not even realizing it. We go through pain in our lives, and we hold on to it- keep it in the back of the bottom drawer for rainy days. We come to love our little collection of hurts and wounds so we can feel like a special case because of the injustice that has been done to us.

There are two different kinds of people in the world. There are people who instinctively look for every chance to be a “victim” and those who look for every chance to rise above—regardless of where they are in life and what’s happening around them. How would your life be different if you stopped validating your victim mentality? The problem with a victim mentality is forgetting to see the blessings of the day. It takes a great level of intelligence to maintain a thinking process as stupid as this. This person takes pride in their own “persecution” when none exists. It highlights a lack of wisdom. For all the twisting, wringing, stretching, and stuffing their delusions, the “victim” only contorts themselves. Because of this, their spirit is poisoned instead of nourished. Playing the victim is a toxic waste of time that not only repels other people, but also robs the victim of ever knowing true happiness.

I’m about to tell you that… you can NOT be defined by Jesus AND your past.

There is nothing wrong with learning good life lessons from our past. That is a part of life. Your past may have made you a better, wiser, stronger person, but if you are still holding on to the pain, then it has defined you. People hold on to their hurts with white knuckles. I think that it is one of the hardest things in the world to forgive people who have hurt you the most. Some people would rather die than truly forgive. Literally, if they had a choice between forgiving someone who has wronged them and death, they would go ahead and order their casket right then and there. Why? Because it has come to define them.

“We would do well to remember that bitterness is clearly the flint that ignites evil in our hearts. It apparently signals “I’m available” to demons searching for a cheap date. Bitterness is a nonproductive, toxic emotion, usually resulting from resentment over unmet needs. The problem is that many bitter people don’t know they are bitter. since they are so convinced that they are right, they can’t see their own wrong in the mirror. And the longer the root of bitterness grows, the more difficult it is to remove. Life is uncertain. Eternity is not. Unforgiveness cannot be allowed to last another day. Are you holding a grudge? You will never be more like God than when you forgive. Let it go. Kill the root of bitterness. Let the hurt go and set yourself free. If you don’t handle the hurt properly, their sin becomes a catalyst for your own.” Craig Groeschel

Even the smallest amount of bitterness in our lives holds us back from having a vibrant relationship with Jesus. We all know people who are bitter, and who have held on to certain injustices for years and years, and it is not pretty, and it is not a picture of Jesus Christ.

I’m not oversimplifying our pain. So many people carry around baggage from the past, and it affects the way we view ourselves on a daily basis. We are wounded and hurting. The world tells us that we need to “take some time for you…focus on YOUR needs and YOUR wants.” While that may sound good, focusing on ourselves will never lead to true healing or freedom from our pain.

Jesus truly does care about our pain and heartache, and He has a very simple solution.

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

When we focus on ourselves, our problems only grow larger, and we are left with nothing to defend against them. When we truly have given up our life to Christ, we gain everything–including His amazing love, power, and grace to forget wrongs done to us. Only then, can we focus on becoming fully set free to live for Christ’s glory.

I could tell the stories of so many people through history who had been wounded, but chose not to focus on themselves, but rather on the prize that awaited them in eternity. However, let me simply remind you of an old, rugged cross. There, the sinless, spotless Son of God was tortured and murdered for sin He did not commit. There, the greatest injustice of all time was served up to a Savior who simply said, “Father, forgive them.” There, love was given in the place of judgment, and mercy instead of justice.

That’ll preach.

I feel like that makes any injustice we have been served seem just a little small. Jesus was served the greatest injustice of all by our own hands. He paid the price and penalty of our sin and took our very pain so that we can be defined by His righteousness, and yet, He still allows us to come to Him and lay our burdens at His feet.

If you are carrying wounds that have yet to be mended, come to Christ and allow Him to heal your heart and make you new. If there are people you need to forgive, ask Him daily for the grace and strength needed to do just that. If you are under a “persecution complex,” let today be the day you shake off your self-obsessive, self-defeating, self-inflicted drama and embrace your God-given power to be a “more than conquerer.” Receive His ability to recover and achieve and move forward the kingdom of God. Because, guess what…. It’s not about you.

Once you make a decision to truly walk away from your pain, He is always there to supply everything we need to walk the narrow way. Don’t look back.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,  Look full in His wonderful face,  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,  In the light of His glory and grace.