with guest Rachelle Dekker.
Memories are a tricky thing. You will be going about your day normally when a smell, or song, or image, or thought will drop from out of nowhere and draw you back to a place you’ve been before. A recollection of a moment lived, either filled with joy or filled with dread. And if the memory is strong enough, it can be hard not to get stuck there.
People say, “Our pasts are part of what defines us.” The choices we’ve made, the reactions we’ve had, and the roads we’ve traveled. And I would say those people are right, that where we come from is important to where we are currently. But what if your past is haunting you? Can you actually be free of those memories?
The last couple of years I have been on a journey to really understanding forgiveness.
Deeper still, how forgiveness relates to identity. How it relates to me. Because one thing has become very clear to me: we are all really good at holding on to the past.
I am the oldest of four, which means I have three younger siblings with the uncanny ability to remember all the terrible things I did to them when we were young. And trust me, I was a terror. I was the oldest! It was my way or the highway! You know, typical firstborn syndrome. And even though we four are all adults now, and they have grown with me and seen me change and relax, there are still moments when one of them will react to me as if I’m the same bossy 12-year-old sister who threatened to lock them in a closet if they didn’t do what I demanded.
It’s funny and playful now. They are just teasing me—getting back at me, so to speak—for all the torture, and I know that. But that doesn’t stop the tiny voice inside my head from reciting the familiar lies of shame. You should have done better. Gosh, you really failed at that. You should be ashamed and embarrassed. They’ll never really forgive you for that. You probably know the lies I’m talking about. I’m willing to bet you have a stash of your own.
Now, let me just say, this isn’t my siblings’ faults. Actually, it has nothing to do with them at all. The problem isn’t with how others view me; the problem is with how I view myself. The issues are within my own mind, within my own perspective of who I am. Because—and I’ll say it again—we are really good at holding on to the past.
Of course, you probably have relationships with people where a bridge has been burned and regardless of how you’ve tried, they refuse to let the past die. And unfortunately, I have yet to discover a way to make other people forgive you. So let’s set that piece aside and instead focus on what I believe is much stronger: forgiving yourself.
Forgiving yourself is actually pretty simple. It’s just letting go. Letting go of the past, of the fear, the shame, the lies of doubt. Letting go of the idea that you can be less than, or inadequate. Letting go and returning to the truth of who you are.
I don’t know each of you personally, but I know what follows is true of you all. You are enough, you are capable, you are strong and fearless, you are beautiful and smart and kind, and you are worth more than you believe. I know that’s true of each of you because it is true of me, and we are the same.
It is surprisingly hard to remember that truth when our minds are clouded with the memories of the past. Because just like I’m sure you are more awesome than you think, I’m also sure that you have the hardest time letting yourself off the hook. And that shapes the way we view ourselves. And the way we view ourselves shapes the way we view the world, but that is probably an idea for another article at a different time.
Today let’s just keep it simple. How do we let go of the past? Of the lies and the memories that haunt us? We practice forgiving ourselves. We practice giving ourselves grace. We practice remembering our worth and value. We practice remembering our truth. If you want to be free, then set yourself free! Let go of the lies of inadequacy and embrace where you are now. In this moment.
I’m a big believer in “everything happens for a reason.” So all those moments from before got you here, but you don’t have to live in the past. And those moments that got you here don’t have to define where you are going. We’re in a new year, people! The past is behind us, so leave it behind.
Imagine if you could embrace each new moment without the baggage of the ones in the past. If you gave yourself grace and forgiveness to step into the new memories free of the lies that held you before. Wouldn’t that be something?
I believe you can. I believe I can. I’m working on it, at least. Spending a couple moments at the beginning of each day remembering who I am and letting go of the past. The transformation doesn’t happen overnight, and I still get stuck often, but I can feel a change coming!
What about you? Maybe you’ve been traveling a similar road and have found a way to give yourself grace. I’d love to hear about it. Or maybe you just need somewhere to say, “Yep, that’s me, needing to learn to let it go.” I believe this is a safe place for that too. Speak out! I’ll stand with you wherever you are, because we are all the same.
We’re just learning to let it go and forgive ourselves. Learning to let the past be the past, learning to give ourselves grace, learning to love ourselves. And doing that—well, that might change the world.
The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through the avenue of storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full-time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat, Blair. Her latest book and the final installment in the Seer series, The Returning, released on January 17, 2017 from Tyndale House Publishers.
Please join Seekerville, as we welcome Rachelle back to celebrate the release of the final book in the Seer series. Leave a comment for an opportunity to win a print copy. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.
Twenty years have passed since Carrington and Remko Brant’s baby, Elise, was kidnapped and they were forced to leave her captive in the Authority City. Though they fled with the Seers far from Authority reach, they’ve never given up hope of rescuing their daughter from the man who betrayed them. Now Authority President, he’s ushered the city into a new era of “peace”—one where the Scientist Roth Reynard’s Genesis Serum has eradicated all memory of emotion or rebellion.
But the mysterious Aaron and his Seers are once again on the move, threatening the illusion the Authority has worked so hard to build. As the Seers send seven chosen warriors to rescue Elise and bring restoration to the Authority City, the lines are drawn for a final battle between light and darkness. The key to ultimate victory may rest within the strangely powerful girl who has felt forgotten but was never abandoned—a truth she’ll need to wage war against the powerful forces of evil.