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  • Writer's pictureGail Gritts

Long Shadows

Updated: Feb 29

The passing of a loved one casts me into retrospection. I have spent time these past few weeks thinking about my childhood since the funeral of my father last month. I remember loads of happy memories along with some very sad ones, and then, found myself left in a deep quandary over the whys and how’s of things that happened when I was a child. I noticed my mind getting stuck and the old emotions beginning to rise. “Why,” I thought, “have these things not died a death years ago? Why do they have such a hold on how I see myself now?” I began to pray and plead with the Lord for answers. Did He answer? Yes, He did. Here’s what I heard Him say. “Gail, those things happened. They are facts from your past that you cannot change. But you do have the choice on how you deal with them today. You can use them as guideposts or warning signals. You can allow them to create fear or anger in your heart. You can rise above them. It is your choice. I will tell you that once you became My child, those things were covered by the blood. Forgiven. Forgotten. You were made a new creation. So, what choice will you make?” Right there, I decided to lay them again at the foot of the cross. I chose, again, to forgive others, even if I never hear the words “I’m sorry.” I accepted God’s forgiveness for my failures and understood I may never know the whys and how’s, but in His sovereignty, these hurts and regrets are a vital part of God’s precious work in my life for His glory. At various times along my journey, He brings me to this same place, and I am always amazed at how He gives me the grace and strength to hand it all back to Him and continue moving forward. I cannot allow the memory of past mistakes or hurts to hinder me, and neither can you. Those memories may cast long shadows, but we need not fear them. Have you ever heard this one? “Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, but Faith looks forward.” This little blurb has helped me sort so many things in my life. And another thing that helps me when long shadows fall is Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me.” Did you know you couldn’t have a shadow without the presence of light? This little portion of scripture reminds me to turn my face to His Light when the dark shadows linger. God is there! You, too, should turn and look toward the Light when long shadows fall. With your face lit by the truth of God’s love, the past plummets behind you and loses the power to manipulate today or tomorrow.

A few years ago, I began working on issues from my past and created a little formula that helps me gain power over these long shadows. Allow me to briefly share my process with you. First, writing each one on an individual scrap of paper, I create a list of the troublesome things and place them in a row in front of me. Then, I take a look at each of them and ask, “Which of these are simply facts; things that can never be changed due to time or the restraints of nature? These might be as crazy as the size of my nose or the shape of my eyes. Some people stress over these things! But then, there are things that happened in my childhood or things I said or did that can never be changed. I try to look very objectively and remove the emotion from them. If I can do that, I move those things up to the next row—the fact row where there is no emotion, just resolved acceptance. I find I am usually left with just a few things still going bump in the night that remain on the bottom row. Now, I take another look at the fact row. In which of these things can I find thankfulness? Can I be thankful for my nose? The shape of my eyes? Can I see how God has used my difficult experiences to teach me a truth I am thankful to know? Or can I see how God used the experiences to allow me to help others? I move as many of the fact papers to the upper thankful row as possible. God tells us, “In everything give thanks.” That is my ultimate goal. I work and pray through my fact list and my bottom row for as long as it takes to move everything to the thankful row. I have found this little process producing happiness and confidence in my life. Now, only occasionally, do the long shadows of old memories cast dark shaded areas, and they are soon replaced by the sunshine of God’s word by my obedience when I take them to the cross. I’m reminded of Christy Lane’s song, Give Them All to Jesus.

Are you tired of chasing pretty rainbows Are you tired of spinning round and round Wrap up all the shattered dreams of your life And at the feet of Jesus lay them down

He never said you'd only see sunshine He never said there'd be no rain He only promised us a heart full of singing About the very thing that once brought pain.

Give them all. Give them all. Give them all to Jesus. Shattered dreams, wounded hearts, broken toys Give them all. Give them all. Give them all to Jesus And he will turn your sorrows into joy.

If you are haunted by long shadows of hurt or regret, I encourage you to try my little process. Turn your face to the Light and see if you, too, can come to resolution by finding thankfulness in everything. Remember, some things we will never understand. We are not intended to, but God knows exactly why every moment of our life is important. He designs with minute detail. That’s another thing to be thankful for!

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

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