For years now I’ve worked at a nursing home where I doll-up ladies and trim men’s hair one day out of the week. Most of these men and women will complete their last years of life here so it gives me such an opportunity to analyze my outlook on life as I build relationships with this elderly generation and learn about and from their lives.
I’ll always remember one of my ladies who had her hair “fixed” weekly by me, she always seemed to be in a positive state of mind…until I’d seat her in the salon chair…anyone with a “cosmetology degree” knows that with that degree comes more than just hair— somewhere hidden in that name must include: counselor.
This woman would desperately pour out her heart to me. She would agonize over what a lousy mother she had been, how she had experienced an unfair marriage, put in overtime hours while her children were raised by grandparents…
Although she is no longer living, I think about her from time to time, and more so the lesson to be learned from her years on earth.
I don’t want to be ninety-something, more “crows feet” and gray hairs than I already have, and regretful over the way I spent my life, especially the years of raising my children. I want to bake in the kitchen next to my babies, play family games, and read stories alongside each of them to create lifetime enjoyable memories for myself and them as well.
When I consider this old woman’s life it’s clear she spent so much of the last part living in remorse rather than enjoyment. Her plans for a better life to come (in Heaven) seemed non-existent as she would share with me the aching and shame in her heart she’d experienced from so many decades ago. The open conversation of heavy, shattered memories told the story and unfolded a transparent lack of hope in her world.
Regretfully I never did share the hope of Jesus with this woman while I spent the last few years of her life with her. To be honest I unfortunately never knew how until more recently.
I never knew how she felt about Jesus, but I can’t help but think perhaps she didn’t “know” Him as her saving grace, because how can a person with their hope placed in Jesus live as if there’s an absence of peace in his or her life?
I’m not convinced that it’s possible…
When a person finally places a genuine hope and faith in Christ, yes troubles will still come, but peace will triumph because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross (John 16:33). By believing Christ died for our sins and rose from the grave where He is now seated at the right hand of God, we’re made right with God and given the Holy Spirit to lead our lives.
Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’
God wants our hearts and lives free of guilt—offering forgiveness (when we confess our faults to Him) and remembering our sins no more (Hebrews 8:12)…
The worries and trials of yesterday’s mess (our shameful past) can be thrown out, to the point that we shouldn’t even desire to dig them back up. To give our worries and cares to God as soon as they begin to come, shows that we trust He’s big enough to take care of them (1 Peter 5:7).
God knows the intense amount of time I spent in worry and shame throughout the years. I didn’t know there was freedom from deep wounds until I pursued Christ and sought Him for healing. Those scars from my past are now more like beauty marks in the walk of my faith as I have drawn nearer to God and found relief from what I thought was unending pain.
My hope, grounded in Jesus, has provided peace. The closer I get to Him the further away I feel from unpleasant memories of my childhood and adolescent years…
This past summer when I sat down to begin writing The Effects of Words and also Bottles Down, Bibles Up I just didn’t know if I’d have the words to put with those deep feelings. These were shameful memories that surfaced often and at the most inconvenient of times.
I remember saying to my husband, “I can’t finish these writings” and I’ll never forget his simple but wise, encouraging response, “you have to finish them, so you can finish the memory.”…and so I did…
There was something so freeing in my mind when I finally put the last period to each of those writings. When I read through them for the first time I was blown away. Spiritually speaking, everything from my past finally seemed to make sense and I saw how God could use my hurt to show others how hope and peace can be found in Him.
Oh how I wish my little lady at the nursing home could have experienced the deliverance from past hurt and regret…
I recently heard on the radio that ‘if your past is troubling you and you can’t seem to shake it, then live today as if it were your last.’ …I wish I could give credit to whomever said those words, but I missed that part…
Words of truth, such as those, speak boldly to me as I passionately write these days in a way that glorifies God. It’s the reason I pour out my heart for the world to read and point others to the cross, where Jesus bore all of our pain and suffering (sin and all) and turned it into something beautiful— unconditional grace…offered to every one of us.
Believe there is freedom and peace from the mess of a dark past, but it’s only obtainable through hope placed in Christ.
Romans 5:1-2 says: ‘Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.’
Prayer: God, your ways are better than mine and your care runs deeper than any valley I may go through. Help me to always place my hope in you to experience your peace and unconditional grace. Amen.