Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Optimist Challenge Day 6

Believe that God can redeem you, despite your past. That He loves you, despite your mistakes. And that there is a purpose for your pain.

Do you have painful things in your past, that you are ashamed of, regret, wish had not happened, or wish that someone had not inflicted upon you? We all do.  But these negative and self-condemning thoughts can become so entangled in our hearts, that we begin to believe they define us. When we let those thoughts define us, and keep us from believing who we are in Christ, the devil has a party.

Understanding that we are all sinners, all have skeletons in our closets, and that we are all in need of a Savior, is the first step towards allowing God to use our past to glorify Him in our present and future.

Until we embrace God's forgiveness and love, and let go of the negative feelings about ourselves that have evolved over time, we cannot embrace God's love for us, or fully understand how He can use all things to His glory.

For example, when God called me to speak and write and share my testimony, my immediate answer was... no way, hosea!  I refused to allow God to use me, for a lot of reasons and excuses that I felt were valid.

For one, I had no idea what being a speaker and a writer even meant. All I knew was that God told me to "go and share". Those are the words I heard ringing in my ears on that infamous day when God reached down and whispered into my soul.

Secondly, I already had a full time job, and did not want another one, and had no intention of making any changes or sacrifices.

And thirdly, I felt a panic attack coming once I clearly understood that God was calling me to be transparent for Him. To share my mistakes. To expose my sins. So I clearly and firmly said no - and I meant it!

But most importantly, above all other excuses, I felt like the most unworthy of all unworthy souls wandering this earth. I had made mistakes in my past which had shaped my mind to believe that I was too despicable in God's eyes, to serve Him.

However, after a couple years of God working on my heart and helping me to see that He loved me - despite me - I finally felt convicted enough to step out of my comfort zone and trust that God new what was best for my life. 

Once I took those first baby steps of faith, I discovered a freedom and peace that I never thought possible. I felt a new sense of self-worth because I had learned how much God loves us, and that His gift of forgiveness is real.

I had to allow God to transform my mind and my thoughts, before He could begin to transform my life. 

When the stronghold of negativity was broken, I was freed from the guilt, hurt and resentment that had been so deeply rooted in my heart.  I was finally able to embrace the joy that God offers, and learn to see myself through His eyes, instead of my own.

I realized that the devil had been having a party at my expense for far too long, and that if I didnt allow God to use my past for His purpose, then all of my pain would be nothing.

Self condemnation is a powerful tool in the enemys toolbox, and God cannot flourish in a heart that is filled with it. Will you give up those negative, self-condeming feelings and allow God to fill your heart with the compassion and grace that He promises?

The past is the past, and that will never change. However, we can allow the past to build our character, strengthen our faith and touch the hearts of others - or we can allow it to keep us feeling condemned, discouraged and negative.....shackled with invisible handcuffs, of which Satan holds the only key.

God does not call everyone to share their past experiences in public, as He did me. But He does call everyone to a divine purpose, and it is our life that equips us to fulfill the destiny He ordained us for.

Have you asked God lately how He has equipped you to bring Him glory, through your past?

Will you let go of the negative thoughts that stem from your past, and allow God to fill you with His love and optimism instead?

Will you give God the key to your heart today?

Psalm 130:3 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?

Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Day Six Challenge Activity: Believe that God can redeem you, despite your past. That He loves you, despite your mistakes. And that there is a purpose for your pain.

Believe that God loves you, no matter what. Whatever you have done, whatever you have allowed, whatever has been done to you - God forgives - God loves - God forgets the past - and He wants us to as well.  (Click here for a special post about God's love for you.)

Trust Him today, no matter what. Accept His forgiveness, once and for all, and then, forgive yourself.  Once and for all.  Don't let your pain be all for nothing.

Bonus Challenge: Consider these personal reflection questions:

Do you have painful things in your past that have been strangling the joy out of your heart? Memories that seem to haunt you, day after day, year after year?

Is it possible that pain buried in your heart from years ago, is keeping you from being able to find your optimism and happiness in life?

Do you believe that God has a purpose for your pain?

Do you desire for your pain to be for something good? To be able to make a difference in the Gods kingdom?

Will you allow Him to use your experiences for His glory?

Optimist Challenge Day 6SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend


Joyful said...

Tracie I am so thankful for God's forgiveness. God can use every detail of our life for His honour and glory. God can use my fears. He can use my insecurities. He can use the year I walked a road of depression. He uses everything if we allow Him the opportunity.

Lord, use my experiences for Your glory. Thank You for Your unconditional love.

In Him, for Him and because of Him,

Angie said...

Could this be it? Could this be the cause of my unhappiness with myself? Could this be the reason I feel so empty inside and a lack of joy in my heart? A sin from 18 years ago still causing such grief? I did ask for forgiveness and I know that sin has been washed away. Self condemnation...satan has been using that on me for 18 years.
Tracie, please remember me in prayer when you read this.
I have got to take a different approach with my life and now I pray He will show me how to do this. I have to allow God to fill my heart with the compassion and grace that He promises.

Brandi said...

I give my WHOLE heart over to him. I think we want to hide the bad...because we don't want Him to know about it...BUT He already knows ALL! Use my Whole Self to draw closer to You.

Lori said...

My worrisome character holds me back many times. As I cling to my loving God,joy and peace surround me. Daily, as I turn things over to God that I am worried about and pray to Him to seek His guidance, I can feel His presence. My passion and desire to serve Him becomes stronger. His loving arms are always there for me and His eyes never leave me. What an awesome God we serve!

Choosing to be joyful today!

Lori - Mesa, AZ

Anonymous said...

God does not want us to dwell on the past. He is willing and able to help us break down our strongholds. I give Him thanks, honor and praise!

Karen C.

Tracey said...

I do believe God has a plan for me. I might not know exactly what it is at this moment in my life, but I know one day I will. I feel it getting closer every day.

Carmen said...

Heavenly father I 've been seeking you with all my heart, forgive my sins and help me to forgive myself from my past sins, built my character and strengthen my faith lead me into a life of joy, peace and hope. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Thanks you Tracie. God bless you!

Anonymous said...

When God is trying to tell ou something, He really does everything to get your attention. He's been telling me for awhile now to remember How much He loves me. I still hvn't fully grasped it, but I feel it and believe it alot more than i have in the past. "There is a purpose for my pain." I love that. Thank you.

Raspberrymama said...

Tracie, thank you for your willingness to say "Yes" to God. This "10 day Optimist Challenge" is a huge blessing to me. God is using you in profound ways! Blessings! =)

Laura said...

I look forward to reading these optimist challenges everyday. I know God has a plan for me. I just have to be patient until He reveals it. Thank you Tracie.

In Christ,

cupcake said...

Thank you for the reminder that God loves us no matter what.

LaTara said...

Tracie, this was a very painful message. I needed to hear it, but wow it was a strong one. I have been self-condemning myself for so long and it has been stealing all my joy. I needed to hear that He can use my past to glorify Him and that there is a purpose for my pain. Thank you! Praise God!

Laura Lim said...

Thank God for using you to post these useful thoughts. I truly love it. It certainly will change many lives. I already start feeling the spirit telling me whenever i think/say negative things. Recently, I had some people here to fix new cabinets for my kitchen and my bro, passed many negative comments as he compared his country's standards (migrated) with my country (asian) and it made me realised that we are so stingy with positive words and I even feel so sorry that these people have to listen to it..

Joanna said...

There was a time when I begged God through my tears to remove the painful memories over which I cried night after night. He did allow the vivid reality to fade from my recollections, but before I could emotionally move away from the nightmare (which occurred because of my foolish choices), I had to embrace the truths of God's love, mercy, forgiveness, and grace. That is where the freedom was found.

Janine said...

Yes. I agree with the other commentors. Letting go of painful memories is hard. Even when we accept God's forgiveness for our part in past mistakes, the memories can still cause us (me) to approach life with a pessimistic attitude. I am glad your Optimist Challenge has helped me to uncover just how negative my daily thoughts have become. I pray for the strength and tenacity to change my daily thought and habits to those of an OPTIMIST. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

I am so thankful to be forgiven for my past sins. Satan does like to remind me of them from time to time, but I know I'm forgiven and I choose not to dwell on it and move on. The past is the past and we cannot change it but we do have control of what we do today. I choose to be joyful!


Lynn Bowman said...

Thank you, Tracie! We serve an awesome God! Thanks for this reminder that God loves us "in spite of" and not just because of. The Devil will try to use our past mistakes against us, if we allow it. We have to accept God's forgiveness and forgive ourselves. I am convinced that my past can be used to make my future better. Thank you again! Be blessed!

Mary S. said...

Thank you, always a blessing to know that we can be redeemed!

Debbie C said...


Jewels said...

I do believe the pains from past come out at times.
I have finally stopped trying to hide them from God.I knew that He knew everything about me, but I was Still holding on to things instead of laying them on His feet. Once the Lord helped me to do that I was able to Start the healing process. Thank you.

one-step-at-a-time said...

Its hard to understand why God allows pain in our lives, but then I see the sin in my life and the wonderful grace God offers me. God can use our pain for good and he can redeem anything. Thank you awesome Father!