Have you ever seen the inside of a tree that has been cut down? Inside that tree are rings. Each ring represents a year of growth and trauma. Written in the heart of the tree are the times it was struck by lightening, drought, floods, and so on, but it tells the history of the tree. Each year tells a story.
Our lives are much like that of the tree. Written in our hearts are the years of painful memories, emotional damage that stays with us throughout each year we live.
For example: the little girl who was sexually abused by a father or older brother she trusted or a little boy who ran down the stairs filled with excitement of the gifts he will receive on Christmas day only to find a dirty sock filled with rocks. These shape the way they see the world.
These are the rings of our thoughts and emotions, each memory is recorded and alive. Each trauma leaves a deep scar in our hearts, and they directly affect the way we feel and view relationships, God, and ourselves. It is the reason our self-talk tells us we are worthless, we don’t matter to anyone, God can never use us, our pastors feel we are not good enough to be used by God.
Salvation does not instantly wash all the damage away. We, as Christians, need to understand this so we can stop judging others by their actions. We may feel those actions contradict how we perceive a Christian should act, when they are simply trying the best they can to trust God as they grow in His grace and mercy. Healing from these damaged emotions takes time.
Matthew 7:16 tells us that we will know them by their fruits – fruits being plural. To me, this verse tells us to look at the whole person, to focus on the good fruits they produce? None of us are perfect. Healing takes time, so we should focus more on the good in someone and less on the negative. Let God finish the work He started in them. We all need a special kind of understanding, we need to work through our past that shaped our outlook on life and perception of others. Let God correct the negative programming of our hearts and minds by the renewing of our minds through His word and power. This is not an overnight event, as I have experienced first hand. Depending on the way we were raised, the bad that has happened to us, this could take years. If you are one of the lucky ones who grew up with loving parents, family that cared about one another, and a safe place you called home, then you need to seek God for more understanding of others. Until you’ve walked in someone else’s shoes, you will never understand their heart or why they do what they do.
So, the next time you start to criticize or judge someone else by your standards, remember…” Do not judge my story by the chapter you walked in on.”