I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. I stepped in the batter’s box, there were two outs and I had two strikes on me. We were in the state playoffs, playing a team we had beaten twice earlier in the year. My only advice from coach was to lay off the curveballs that dipped low and out of the strike zone. It was good advice, because I had a weakness for curveballs that drifted low and away. It seems the pitcher knew that as well. The next pitch? A curve ball, low and away. I swung the bat with every ounce of strength I had and missed the ball by a mile. The coach (deservedly) let me have it as I trotted back to the dugout.
That was several years ago. It wasn’t a life changing mistake. But I can still feel embarrassed when I think about it. It’s amazing how much power the past can still have in our lives. I’ll bet that if you thought about it for a second, you could call up three or four things from your past that still cause you to cringe. We all have things in our past that we aren’t proud of. Most of those things don’t affect our present or threaten our future. For many of us, however, there are past events that are still doing very real damage to us. How can you tell if something from your past is controlling your present and threatening your future?
If You Can’t Talk About It
Some things are so painful that they are difficult to talk about. That’s dangerous, because processing what happened is a key component to healing and moving on. You don’t need to talk about what happened to everyone, but you do need to be able to talk to someone. If the memory is especially painful or if you are confused about what it meant, then talking to a trained professional is a good idea. Refusing to talk about it is not an option.
If You Can’t Stop Talking About It
If you can’t stop talking about how horribly you were treated by your friend when you were 15, you probably have not resolved whatever happened. Our brains are magnificent machines (made by a magnificent Creator), and they will continue to bring the information that we haven’t fully processed back to our attention. If there is something from your past that you can’t stop talking about, then you may need to seek a greater resolution to whatever it was that happened.
Your Emotions Don’t Match Your Circumstances
Holding painful memories from our past under the surface is difficult. A friend once likened it to trying to hold beach balls under water at the pool. You might be able to keep one or two submerged, but any more than that, and they will all eventually pop to the surface. When you are trying to keep issues from your past buried inside, often it registers on an emotional level. You may be emotionally numb and unable to feel the normal highs and lows of life. For others, their emotions are much more explosive than you would expect given the circumstances they find themselves in. If you are trying to keep something stuffed down inside from your past, and the effort is affecting you emotionally, you may need to have a closer look at what you are hiding from.
We can gain great strength from our past. Successes and even challenges that we have endured and overcome can make us stronger. Unfortunately, our past can also cause us pain in our present. If you have things in your past that are preventing you from enjoying your present, make time to talk with someone about it. Whether it’s a counselor, a friend, or a minister, getting the words out can make a huge difference. You future is too valuable to be held hostage by your past.