I'm sitting across from him, back to the window, in a fairly uncomfortable chair.
Aren't these places suppose to have couches and comfy pillows one can cradle to protect the soul?
I fidget and try my hardest to avoid eye contact. After all, I've just laid bare my soul and the secret I've carried for years is no longer a secret.
"What are you feeling?"
I tell him. I'm honest . . . for the first time.
He listens and writes. He doesn't respond. I go on.
I describe the pain and hurt. I tell him I feel worthless and ashamed.
"What do you see when you look at yourself?"
What kind of question is that? Are you kidding me? Hmmmmm, let' see . . .
Every day for pretty much my whole life the image I see of myself is one shaped by what happened. I see the scars and blemishes, the imperfections and deformities my soul's injury left behind. After all, aren't we the sum of our experiences? I tell him so. My past has fashioned my present. I am that person, which I can't escape, no matter how fast I try to run away.
He listens and writes.
What's he thinking? I can't help but fear what he thinks of me.
My need for approval shoves its way to center stage, while the old, tried and true feelings of shame and worthlessness surround me like a rabid pack of dogs, ready to pounce, and I've no protection against them.
I glance up. He's looking at me.
"Listen to me closely." He speaks with determined gentleness.
My eyes meet his in quiet desperation.
Please God. Speak. I need You . . .
He's silent for a moment, as if he hears my souls cry for help, and then, when all is still, he slowly speaks eight words with weighted holiness.
"What. Happened. To. You. Does. Not. Define. You."
I stare at him as my ears hear his words and my brain perceives their meaning. My spirit swallows heavily, as the weight of his words sink deep with meaning.
What happened to me does not define me?
What. Happened. To. Me. Does. Not. Define. Me.
The moment my soul repeats these words I know they are true. The cold despair this lie has fostered begins to fade by the warmth of truth. Hope springs to life.
He continues. "What defines you is who you are. Are you this?"
I slowly shake my head no.
"Who are you?" He asks.
"I am His child. I am whom He says that I am. I am His beloved."
He looks at me knowingly. "You do understand what that means don't you?"
And I do.
Words can't adequately describe what it feels like to finally stop running . . . knowingly . . . all these years I've been running from my past, only to discover that it's the truth I've been trying to escape. But one can never run that fast, and so with a sigh of deep understanding I just stop. Turn. Look truth in the face.
And I do. Truth speaks just above the whispering of the wind outside the window I sit beside. I hear it's familiar voice as clear as my own.
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20
At that moment something changes within me as I finally understand what it means to belong to Him. I died, and His life was birthed within me. Therefore, I am not my past, because all of me has been swallowed up by all of Him. His life is now mine to claim. I am not the sum of my experiences. My former life is dead and I've been made new - redeemed. My past, and all that happened to me, can't define me. It doesn't have the power or the right to do so.
The only One, now, with the right and the life-giving power to define me is my Savior, and He says I've died with Him and He now lives within me. I am loved by Him. I am His beloved. This is what He sees when He looks at me - His beloved.
I look at him from across the room. "I am not my past" I repeat.
"No you are not." He smiles. "You are His."
"I am His."
Light dawns. Shame runs for the shade. Worthlessness slithers back into the shadows.
I am not my past . . . I am His!