~By: Shirley Rosario~
Are you battling with your past and cannot enjoy the present? Certainly, I had my own struggles, battles, and discouragements, and I even thought many times that I should stop serving God because I was not good enough. But, through songs, reading the Bible, or someone telling me to continue walking with Jesus, God always took care of me and brought me back to His side.
Last summer, I purchased the book Tailormade by Alex Seeley. She wrote about how she discovered God’s design and purpose in her life. For many years, she let the labels of being “an accident” or “stupid” take control of her heart and mind. She tells her story and how she found in the scriptures the real meaning of being created by the Lord Almighty.
I identified with her story. I am the youngest of four sisters; my parents tried to get the boy in the family, and on the last try, I was born. I was the one who had the darkest skin, the one who always brought the report cards with the lowest grades, and the one who was called the “black sheep of the family,” although I don’t think they really meant it. When I was in high school, I remember people in my neighborhood gossiping that one day I would get pregnant because I had friends who were boys. I think they criticized me because they knew my parents, and I am sure they wanted the best for me.
My level of confidence was low. I struggled in high school because I was not as skinny as my friends, and it made me feel different. I had issues accepting the way that I looked, I was constantly afraid of disappointing people, or even worse, I did not want to look at myself in the mirror.
I brought my frustrations and struggles into my marriage, and they influenced my parenting of my own children. My life was seemingly normal, however, I knew that something was wrong and the frustration of my past was still stuck in my heart.
When I gave my life to Jesus, things changed. I let go of many things that were easy to give up, but my labels were still there in the back of my mind: “you are not enough,” “you are a sinner,” “you are not living a holy life,” “you are a liar,” etc. I had my insecurities and doubts about believing in what God called me to be. For years I battled with the negative thoughts about myself, and they did not let me enjoy the beautiful things and blessings that God had for me. During fasting and prayer in my church, I invited God and Holy Spirit to help me to break any bondage of my past and to clean my mind, soul, and heart. I took the Word of the Lord as my sword. I remember that God gave me a word in the book of James:
So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. James 1:21-24 (NLT)
In my years as a Christian, I had learned the Word of God, but I had been missing the best part: accepting, obeying, and planting it in my heart. I had to take a firm stand against my negative thoughts and renounce them because they were not from God. I chose to believe that nothing can separate me from God’s love. His love is grace, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness, and He is always waiting for us to receive all these beautiful gifts that He has for us. Every time that I read His Word and spend time in His presence, He always reminds me of who I am in His eyes. I am a new creation, I am loved, I am a child of God, I am His, and He has a plan and purpose for my life.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
My friend, the Lord has good plans, not for disaster. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Satan always wants to undermine God’s work. Don’t let labels or guilt from your past take over your heart and mind. Sadly, I let the enemy take control of my thoughts. I almost let the enemy destroy my marriage, and daily I let him steal my peace. All of these things happened because I did not have a relationship with God, and I was not rooted in His Word.
I encourage you today to read and meditate on God’s Word. There are so many promises that God has for us, but you have to believe. I have discovered that being a follower of Christ is more than being devoted to going to church every Sunday and showing love to others. It is also having a personal relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. When we have this relationship, our lives start to be transformed according to HIS will and HIS design for our lives.
Heavenly Father, I come today to your presence with thanksgiving for you being so good to me. You are our healer, you are our refuge, you are our provider, you are our Father, and I believe that you have a plan and purpose for everyone who is reading this blog. Humbly, I ask you to heal any broken hearts at this moment, and whoever needs to feel your presence, please send your Holy Spirit to remind them how much you love them. Continue blessing each person and help them in any situation that they are going through. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness. I ask all these things in the name of Jesus, Amen!