Thursday, May 14, 2015

The ABC’s of Discernment: P is for Past

We all have a past.

That past may be pleasant, full of joy and good memories. That past may be dark and checkered, full of pain and regret. Or, most likely, your past may be a mixture of the two. The point is you have one, and it has influenced how you see and react to the world around you.

As a result, understanding how those experiences impact today will help you set your personal boundaries. Sometimes those experiences will skew your perspective (and discernment), and you will have to limit where you go, much like a recovering alcoholic “limits” himself by steering clear of a bar. Other times your past may provide clarity and insight, opening doors barred to others: Often someone who has suffered a tragedy—such as the loss of a child—is specially equipped to minister to someone in similar circumstances. 

However, the experience doesn’t have to be “big” or life-changing to be influential. When I was a young child, I saw a part of a Murder, She Wrote episode, which terrified me. That feeling has stuck with me. So although I love the show, watching it at certain times can disrupt my sleep and induce nightmares to this day, even though I can enjoy shows with higher thrill factors during that same period without the negative effects. 

So whether big or small, pleasant or painful, our experiences are powerful, and by understanding the past we can better discern in the present. 

Stirring the Pot:
What is one event, positive or negative, you’ve experienced, and how does it affect your perspective today?

Due to that experience, what are you more sensitive to? 

Which doors have closed to you as a result? Which doors have opened?

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