Dear Reader: You Are Not Your Past

Dear Reader- You Are Not Your Past.png

I’m opening a new category on my blog called “Dear Reader.” This will be a lot like “Dear Christian Teens,” but it’ll hopefully have a more expanded demographic than just 13-19. I love to write in letter format rather than lecture. I want to share my heart as I would with a friend, not just tell you all what you should and shouldn’t do.

 

I’d like to do an occasional post where I can look you in the eyes and say “listen. I know you’re not perfect, and I’m definitely not either. Let’s figure out life together.” instead of writing a speech.

 

I want my posts, particularly my “Dear Reader” posts, to be freeing.

 

Without further adieu, let me bring you the first installment of “Dear Reader.”

 

Dear Reader,

 

You are not your past.

 

You are not what you have done or where you have been.

 

You are not the choices you’ve made.

 

You are not your image or accomplishments.

 

You are not defined by all the sins you’ve committed.

 

You are not your addictions.

 

And I mean it.

 

You are covered by grace.

 

You became covered by grace the moment you said “Jesus, I believe you can and will forgive my sins.”

 

You are covered by grace because you are loved by your Creator. Because He said, “I don’t want to see my child eternally separated from me.”

 

Grace is such that we cannot outrun it. We cannot out-sin it. We cannot get to a point where it does not apply to us anymore. We cannot earn it. Why?

 

Grace is a gift.

 

You do not deserve to be forgiven, and neither do I.

 

But Dear Reader, that’s why grace is amazing. We do not deserve grace of any kind, we do not deserve mercy, we do not deserve forgiveness. Grace is undeserved, and it is beautiful.

 

Grace says, “I have seen your sin and yet I love you. Yet I forgive you. I have seen your filth and yet I call you clean.”

 

God sees us as NEW.

 

He does not see our failures; He sees His Son’s perfection in us.

 

He does not call us on our screw-ups, on our deliberate sins, or on our flaws. He says, “I love you, and what you have done cannot change that.”

 

Dear Reader, you are not your past because God has washed it away.

 

You are called holy and blameless.

 

Titus 3:4-7

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

 

You are justified by His grace. God sees you the same as if you’d lived the perfect life and never did anything wrong.

 

You are not your past – you are a new creation because you are in Christ.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

 

Instead of beating ourselves up over and over about our sin, why don’t we see at as God sees it? FORGIVEN.

 

Psalm 103:12

“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

 

So Dear Reader,

 

It’s alright that we’re not perfect, it’s alright that we’re messed up, it’s all right that we’re sinners, because grace covers us. We are held in the hands of a loving God, not an angry one.

 

You do not have to let what you’ve done define how you see yourself. See yourself as God sees you, and let JESUS define you.

 

You are new.

 

*aj

Don’t Regret Where You Are.

Don’t Regret Where You Are

Last night stirred up some old memories from my past. Fifteen years old doesn’t seem quite old enough to have a “past,” but trust me, I have a lot of old memories.

 

I did gymnastics for eight whole years. They say I was good, but that’s not why I did it. I did it because I loved gymnastics, and it was pretty much synonymous with my own name.

 

But I’ve changed so much since I was eleven.

 

I had my life all planned out. We’d work hard, my best friend and I would, and go to the Olympics. If that didn’t work out, we would go to college for gymnastics, and become coaches. If not coaches, then judges. And that was that. That was all I knew, and that was where God had me and my priorities at the time.

 

And then I stopped.

 

Last night, as I was getting ready to go to said best friend’s competition, I stared at myself in the mirror, comparing my image with the one of baby-faced me in a red and white leotard. And the thought came to me – so much has changed.

 

But I can think that thought without regrets. Sure, I wish I still had a six-pack, and could do countless push-ups and sit-ups, have backflips at my disposal, and be able to climb a thirty-foot rope without using my legs. (Seriously.) But I don’t regret where I am today.

 

I have a blog with all of you lovely, vibrant readers, where I can share the amazing things God has taught me.

I can focus on things that matter to me, like writing, and reading, and editing.

I have made wonderful online friends, who fangirl shamelessly share my faith and interests, and are wonderful, encouraging people.

I’ve had time to develop musically and teach myself how to play guitar, piano, ukulele, and how to sing.

I learned how to surf and now fight off bad guys amuse myself with karate.

I’ve fostered so many new passions and interests, and matured so much in my faith.

 

Things that were once such huge players in my life have become nothing more than occasionally resurfacing memories.

 

And you know what? I’m good with that.

 

So many times, we let our pasts take hold of us and let us continue to ask about “what could have been.” That’s not right.

 

A poem by Robert Frost, called “The Road Not Taken,” talks about this. The speaker is faced with two paths to choose in life, not right and wrong per se, but two choices, and he must go one way or the other.

 

The last stanza goes like this.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 

(Read the full poem here.)

 

The poem isn’t called “The Road Less Traveled,” but “The Road Not Taken.” It’s about how we will never know what life would be like if we had chosen to do something else.

 

As much as I love Frost’s poetry, I don’t think our lives should have such a melancholy undertone over “what-ifs.” Of course we’ll never know what things would have been like if we chose a different path. But we needn’t hinge our thinking on that fact.

 

I’m learning every day to be okay with where God puts me. The choices I’ve made – such as stopping gymnastics, and removing that thing that I let define me – have brought me to where I am today.

 

I’d like to share something with you.

 

Your life is not a mistake.

 

God has a plan for your life, whether you’re eleven or ninety-seven. And whoever you are, know that you are exactly where you need to be. You don’t need to spend so much time dwelling on the fact that you never finished your education, or that you never achieved the high goals you set for yourself, or that you have an apartment rather than a mansion.

 

It’s okay to not be rich or famous, it’s okay that you never followed the glamourous dreams you thought you wanted, it’s okay, because you are still living the life that God has planned for you.

 

If you want to go out and try something new, to be bold in your faith, to start fresh, go for it. But don’t look back, because honey, you can’t change what’s happened. You don’t look behind you when you want to move forward.

 

We all have trials. We all have bad days, bad months, and bad years. But with God in our lives, we cannot classify our lives themselves as bad.

 

God has known from the dawn of time the choices we’d make. And through good and bad, He loves us.

 

Don’t regret where you are. It may be hard, but don’t look back. We needn’t dwell on the past because that life, that part of us, that person – is gone. We are who we are now. Let’s make the best of it, and live to be who God has created us to be.

 

*aj