What do you remember about growing up? If the psychologists are right, probably more than you realize. In days long past, I used to baptize babies. In preparation for the baptism, I would carry the baby as I visited with the parents. For a half-hour or so, I would walk and talk and play with the baby. My purpose was to impress on the baby that I was a safe person and that there would be no need to cry during the baptism. It worked! I baptized about fifty babies during those years and never had one cry as I carried it out to the congregation and back to the parents.
Obviously, this isn’t about infant baptism (except perhaps that it is a part of my past). This is about the things that are impressed on us as children. We heard the voices of our parents or other significant people in our lives saying meaningful things. We heard the tone and watched the body language they used as they said those things. Their messages were impressed on us repeatedly during our most formative years. No wonder we still hear their voices, particularly their words of criticism. Our need for approval opened our hearts even more to their criticisms and condemnations than to the other things they said.
So we remember these things. But it is more than that, isn’t it? Those were the words and judgments we used to form our picture of ourselves. We believed their words and we adapted to the kind of life, the kind of person, their words suggested. Even if we grew to reject what they sad, we were still affected by it.
Of course, it wasn’t just our parents. Junior high school offered us the picture our peers had of us. Our first “love” relationships affected that picture as well. In fact, we learned to judge ourselves by how others judged us. That type of judgment was simply reinforced over the years.
Then, when we heard that the Lord loved us, we found that hard to believe. After all, we knew that we didn’t measure up to the standards of others, so how could we measure up to the standards of God? Besides, God must mean something else, because we knew what kind of person we were.
These ideas about ourselves became the flesh with which we had to deal. It almost didn’t matter whether the judgment was true. It stood in our minds and hearts because it had been put there consistently and so long ago. We knew it was true because it had always been true.
I believe this is why we are taught so clearly that the old has died and God has made a new thing in us. We are new creatures, created and formed in Christ.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Over the next few posts I would like to write about what it means to let the past be the past. I think it may allow us to understand both the present and the future a little better. In the meantime, be encouraged. The old has passed away and you are new!