Like most people, I would assume, I often look back on my teenage years with a cringe.
So. Many. Phases.
And weird ones to say the least.
I had that rap phase that we all go through (don’t try to deny it, we’ve all been there), the ‘way too many Silly Bandz’ phase, the tomboy phase, the ‘too much makeup’ phase, etc.
One of my favorites though was my beanie phase. I wore beanies all the time and while anyone who knows me now wouldn’t actually believe that, I did.
That phase was brought up recently by a good friend who mentioned that this was his first memory of me – wearing a beanie. This made me laugh as I rolled my eyes and tried to hide my embarrassment. Even though it’s funny, don’t we all sometimes wish those embarrassing phases (and any memory of them for that matter) would just stay tucked away in the past?
We place periods at the end of all those teenage phases and hope to God that we’ve heard the last of them but somehow they always seem to get brought back up.
On a more serious note, do you ever feel like that happens with the hurtful, pain-ridden, cringe-worthy times in your past? Perhaps that big ‘why?’ that resurfaces in your memories every now and then –
Why didn’t this happen?
Why did that happen?
Why couldn’t it have gone the way I wanted it to?
Perhaps those mistakes of the past and the slipups that we wish we could forget but somehow seem to reappear in our lives.
Maybe it’s that big ‘what if?’ in your life –
the ‘what if’ relationship that got away;
the ‘what if’ opportunity that you let slip through your fingers; or
the ‘what if’ word that you didn’t realize at the time would be the last word you would ever speak to that loved one who passed away too soon.
Why does the hurt always resurface?
We ended that sentence in our lives with a firm period in hopes that we would never have to deal with it again but have discovered that God removed the period and replaced it with a semicolon.
Now, for those of you who struggle with semicolons (even English nerds like myself do at times, so no worries), a semicolon is what leads into a ‘second thought’ of an already complete sentence.
A semicolon joins two clauses that could, on their own, stand as complete sentences in order to demonstrate the relationship between the two.
After spending several hours contemplating where I wanted this blog to go and praying that God would direct my search, I decided on the story of Moses.
His cringe-worthy past of having lived a life of ease and plenty while his people were tortured and enslaved under the very hand of the man he called father was a memory I’m sure Moses wanted to forget; to place a firm period at the end of and never hear of it again.
Why else would he flee to Midian (Exodus 2:15)? He wanted to get as far away from his life in Egypt as possible and forget any and every memory of it.
Yet we find in later chapters of Exodus that God had a different plan in mind.
He removed Moses’ period at the end of that sentence in his life and replaced it with a semicolon to demonstrate the relationship between the hurt of Moses’ past and the glorious future of a renewed and redeemed people.
Sure, each could have stood independently on their own as complete sentences. Moses could have lived the rest of his days with a hurtful past and a mediocre future and God certainly could have freed His people another way.
But praise God that He does not leave us to wallow in our own self-pity.
God continues on with our story.
He continued the good work He started in Moses when he was first set adrift in the Nile and completed it in the freeing of His people.
God used that which Moses wished to forget for His ultimate glory.
So think back with me to that ‘why?’ or that ‘what if?’ in your life. What is that one thing, or maybe multiple things, that makes you cringe and want to run as far away from as possible?
For me it’s the hurt and embarrassment of a bad relationship.
When it ended, I wanted nothing more than to get as far away from it as I could and never hear of it again. But several years later, I found that God had taken the period that I had so firmly placed at the end of that time in my life and replaced it with a semicolon.
I’ve been able to use that unique and painful experience to meet others right where they are at. Where I thought my situation was unique to only me, God showed me that when we struggle with something, we are never alone in that struggle because someone else is probably dealing with the same thing.
On top of that, when God lays it on our hearts to share those painful experiences, regardless of how much it hurts to relive those raw memories, it often means that someone needs to know that they are not alone; that someone else understands what they are going through.
I’ve seen God create a relationship between the pain I experienced three years ago and the healing of others who have or who are dealing with that same hurt right now.
I don’t know the ‘second thought’ God has in mind for your sentence. I don’t know what He plans to do after the semicolon, but I do know that God is good.
God grants us the opportunity for a second chance; a chance to turn a sentence that we may not like into something beautiful. A chance to see our pain play a part in the glory of His Name.
His semicolon is our redemption story.
God does not waste pain. He will use the ugly and redeem the past to make the future bright with hope. “Redemption doesn’t mean we won’t feel the pain, but it does mean that the pain will eventually have a purpose.”
He places semicolons where we have periods so that the hurt of our past is redeemed in the hope of our future, for what was intended for our harm, God intends for good…(Genesis 50:20).