Thinking About My Past Life

I was standing at our deep freezer yesterday several months ago repackaging my discounted meat finds and thinking about my past life. Past life you say? Yes…that life I lived 15-20 years ago. The life I had in high school and the first part of my 20’s. I think we all have a past life. For pre-teens it is childhood. For teenagers it is the pre-teen & childhood years. And after high school it’s pretty much whatever season of life you look back on and reminisce (for better or worse) about.

Now why, you may ask, did freezing meat trigger a long and thoughtful reminiscing session? Well I’ll tell you. I was standing in my kitchen, which at most times is a lovely and inviting space. The counters are usually clear of dishes and wiped down, the pots and pans are all put away and nicely displayed. The food is in the fridge and all is as it should be. Not so that day! I had the fruits and veggies from my shopping trip four days prior (!) still sitting in the grocery bags on the floor. Every inch of counter space was covered in dirty dishes, some actively growing new mold. The pots and pans shelving unit was an unorganized and overflowing disaster. And I’m standing there freezing meats so that I can fit the produce in the fridge…the meats I should have frozen four days ago.

Messy stove area.

And what got me about it all was that it was ok. No, it’s wasn’t ok to have such a disastrous mess on my hands. But I was ok emotionally with the mess. At this point in life I can look at the mess and see it as a project to complete, a task to accomplish and get working on accomplishing it. Not so in my past life.

In my past life I would have looked at the mess and seen it as yet another proof that I was a wretched person who didn’t deserve anything anything in life, including life. I would have never gotten started cleaning it until I knew I could clean the entire mess, rearrange the pots & pans shelf, put all the groceries away and probably clean the fridge out in the process. But unless you have no other responsibilities that’s a pretty unattainable goal…thus circling back to the idea that my life is not of any value. I would say to myself, “You are so worthless! You can’t even keep your kitchen clean. Why are you even alive. You can’t do anything right, why do you even try.” And on and on and on. And the sad thing was I believed it. And those thoughts touched every single piece of my life. I was paralyzed from making decisions because I knew I’d just fail at them. I tried controlling as much as I could in my life because maybe those things could prove I had some value. But trying to control things is like trying to hold on to sand…not going to happen.

So standing at my freezer, kitchen a mess, produce on the floor, pots and pans scattered, I thought about all this. And I breathed a prayer of thanks that my life is not that life anymore. I am still tempted to think that way. If I’m really tired and hungry it sometimes comes out. But overall I know the truth and believe it with all my being. My messy kitchen (messy house, failure as a gardener, etc…) does not mean that I am a failure at life. It means there is still room for growth – and that’s ok. I can stand in my kitchen and break the tasks into smaller achievable chunks and then get to work on the first task. I can think about how next time I can do something different to not let it get so out of hand. I can be thankful I have a home to live in, food to eat and dishes to wash. I can live a normal life and not fight myself at every turn. I can desire to live.

I used to think my past life was unique. Certainly I must be the only one who knew they should never have been born because they were obviously such a failure at everything they touched (and I chuckle as I write that, even feeling the scar of those years). But it wasn’t unique. It’s actually a pretty common thread I’ve heard since the Lord helped me find healing. It’s something a lot of people keep inside. I don’t think I ever spoke such negative words outloud except when complimented. The compliment could never be accepted and I would try to argue against it.  And I know now that is SUCH an annoying response! But I didn’t know that then. I believed the compliment was a lie said to make me feel better about being worthless. Crazy, huh!

The words of Psalm 139 were a piece of my truth journey. Here is part of the Psalm…

You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.

Our lives are spent balancing who we were in the past with who we hope to be. I love the quote that says “Far from what I once was but not yet what I’m going to be.” So now my messy kitchen just means the kitchen is a mess, nothing more and nothing less. I can hope that in the future I learn the secret of keeping it clean and will work toward that. In the meantime I smile and breathe a prayer of thanks for the life I have today.

The stove is cleared!