Our lives are just like rings in a tree

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Chaplain’s Corner by Colin Johnson, Neighbourhood Chaplain, Hockliffe StreetBaptist Church...

This week someone suggested I write about the past being ‘always with you’. Of course memories can be good or bad and most of us have some happy memories but what about the times we’d sooner forget? Perhaps we’ve been bullied, abused, rejected or hurt in some way. These things have a way of staying with us. 

Our lives are like rings in a tree. No matter how old we are, the past seems recorded in us, influencing and controlling us.

Does this mean that I am not responsible for my behaviour today because I have been hurt in the past? Am I a slave to my past?

Some people seem to be. Perhaps they were often told that they should do better and now they feel a failure even when others say they’ve done well.

Perhaps they were hurt and rejected by someone and are now wary of relationships and allowing anyone too close.

When we think about memories like these the question of forgiveness comes up.

How can I forgive especially when it is so difficult to forgive  ourselves. What can we do?

Sometimes we need to be inspired by hearing how others dealt with past hurts.

I remember reading a true story about a woman who was imprisoned during the Second World War in one of the Nazi concentration camps.

She suffered terribly and saw her sister and other members of her family killed.

Years later she met the guard of the camp who asked her for forgiveness.

She was a woman of faith and unbelievably she did manage to forgive him.

She was inspired by the example of Jesus but also knew that she had a choice whether to forgive or not.

She said: “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”

If you want to read more about her story see The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom.

So the past is always with us, but let us make peace with it, with each other and ourselves.

> Got a question, for Colin? Email colin@hope
onthestreet.org.uk