I often like to think that the past can’t get me. That what has already happened can just be buried or tucked away and I can move on with my life.
We say it a lot in our society, don’t we? “Bury the past.” “Bury the hatchet.” “Bury the pain.” We swallow down bad memories and hide them in places within us so they stop hurting. We rationalize it afterwards by saying, "It’s in the past and it doesn’t matter."
But it does matter. It matters a lot.
Because what we bury we end up standing on.
A few months ago as I was praying, God spoke and said, “Stacey, it’s time to do some digging.”
I cringed and clamped down my teeth because I knew exactly what He was going to go for.
It’s what He always goes for.
Without fail—every single time—He wants that thing.
That secret thing.
That secret thing I hide in my heart and memory banks and don’t let anyone else see. In this particular instance it had to do with a family member and the way that they had hurt me. At the moment it was happening it really did a number on me, but I wanted to be the better person—the nice Christian—so I swallowed my anger. I buried the hurt. I moved on.
I’d done it before many times. I’m guessing you have done it, too.
I thought that I was fine until God came over and brought out the shovel. When He asked me to dig up this specific memory, I stiff-armed Him faster than a running back. “OH NO. We are not going to explore this wonderful moment of my history. (Insert sarcastic glare at the sky). I’m over it. It’s in the past. I’ve moved on. I’ve forgiven them.” I bolted out of the conversation and tried to forget about it.
But I couldn’t.
After a couple of days, I got bored and frustrated. I had a few more arguments with God until I dramatically flipped open my Bible looking for an answer. I wandered around in the old Testament for awhile before turning to Jesus and the parables.
And then I saw it. *Gulp.* I saw myself.
Just like the parable of the wise and foolish man building on sand or rock, we construct our houses and our lives on top of these experiences. Whether we want to admit it or not, when we bury something, it becomes a part of our land. It becomes a part of the support structure for our daily living. (The parable is in Matthew 7:24-27 and Luke 6:46-49.)
Underneath our feet, muddled and made silent by our ability to distance ourselves from our problems, the memories sit, buried, but not destroyed. Instead of being able to find freedom by moving forward with our lives, we fail to understand that in the spiritual sense, burying something makes it a part of our foundation. We will stand upon those things until we get enough courage to dig them up. Or, if we aren’t careful, we can collect enough bad memories to really distance ourselves from God.
I took this photo (seen above) of a friend of mine named Sarah while we were exploring a bluff in Ireland. It’s a good visual of what we do when we bury things. We build ourselves up in the process by inflating the ground underneath us with each bad thing we bury. The process raises us up higher away from true Rock. Before we know it, we can end up quite a distance from where we started and put ourselves in danger of falling.
You’ve heard it said many times that Jesus is our foundation. And it’s true! He is the rock of salvation and the sure foundation! (Psalms 95:1 and 2 Tim 2:19)
However, we dilute Jesus by burying our pain in the place where He is supposed to be. We push Him, inch Him, nudge Him a little bit farther out of our hearts each time we cover up our hurts instead of dealing with them.
Today’s challenge is to think about this concept. Take an honest look at the soil of your heart and figure out what you’ve buried there instead of dealing with. Then, I’d like to invite you to take out the shovel and really excavate those things. Let’s go into a time of intensive personal archaeology. Anything that is occupying space in your heart that is not good needs to go. Clear the way and make a little bit more room for Jesus to be your foundation.
Remember: This isn’t a terrible, earth-shattering destruction of your belief system and who you are; it’s just an uncluttering of your character that will bring you freedom. And everyone could use some more of that! This process will take some time, so go slow and be thorough!
If you are having trouble letting some things go, here are some really helpful verses to think about during the process: They’ve helped me a lot!
"Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord'" (Romans 12:19).
"To put off your old self,which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil" (Ephesians 4:22-27).