I’ve always said that it’s possible to start over, regardless of the past. But what does that mean? It’s one thing to decide to start over, but it’s another thing to figure out what to do with the effects of the past.
You don’t just hear a riveting chastity talk and sign a fresh purity commitment card, and then everything is restored. What’s often unseen is the drawn-out process of untying the knots.
As many of you know, I was raised in a broken family, lost my virginity at the age of fifteen, and lived through abusive and unfaithful relationships. Some of my wounds were self-inflicted because of by my own poor choices, while others were inflicted upon me.
Before meeting my husband, I quit living my crazy lifestyle and began to practice purity. But what about the wounds of the past? I stuffed them. We women are masters at stuffing our stuff. We put our makeup on, buy a new wardrobe, and offer the world a big fake smile. But inside, we’re afraid to start crying because we’re afraid we’ll never stop. So, we numb ourselves with false consolations.
How do we (both men and women) stop running from the past and learn how to face it, own it, and heal it? Here are my four keys:
Go to counseling.
Most people feel embarrassed to seek professional help. We want everyone (especially ourselves) to think we have it all together. But we’ll never solve a problem until we admit that it exists. Because I spent years of my life running from the past, my life became an intricate web of coping mechanisms. I began to identify with my brokenness, thinking that my tough exterior façade was my identity. Actually, it wasn’t me at all. It was the frightened girl who wanted to keep everyone at bay because she knew that vulnerability leads to pain. But this isn’t any way to live. It’s just existing. This isn’t how to thrive or glorify God. So, get over your fears and talk to someone who can help you to finally slay them. Go to www.womenmadenew.com or www.catholictherapists.com to find a counselor.
Go to the Eucharist
I knew that in my healing process, I could only go so far by myself. After many of my counseling sessions, I needed to process my thoughts and emotions. So, I ran to God in Eucharistic Adoration. I would pray, journal, and even cry in his Holy Presence. It was there in those quiet chapels that God was able to begin mending so many of my open wounds. With him by my side, I felt safe going into the dark places of my memories. It was scary at times to face them, but I learned that only Jesus could undo some of the things that had been done.
Find a good priest
Going to a counselor is essential if you’ve suffered serious emotional wounds. But a good priest is invaluable in the healing process as well because it can be tough to decipher what issues are emotional and which are spiritual. After all, human efforts alone can only accomplish so much. Because we have souls, we often need deliverance and divine intervention. We can’t expect the couch of a counselor to erase what needs to be healed in the confessional, and vice versa.
When you’re drumming up all the wounds of the past, the devil will try to rub your nose in them. He wants you to think that you’re just an unlovable, helpless, mess. At times like this, it’s essential to have family, friends, or some other support system that will accept you where you’re at, reminding you that you are lovable, even if you are a mess! Therefore, don’t try to heal alone.
If you don’t know a good friend, priest, or counselor who would stand by your side, pray that God would show you where to find them, so that they can help you to carry your cross.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what has happened to you. All that matters now is where you go from here. As I once heard, “No matter how dirty your past is, your future is still spotless.”
Crystalina Evert is the founder of Women Made New Ministries and the co-founder of Chastity Project. She is a best-selling author of the books Pure Womanhood, How to Find Your Soulmate without Losing Your Soul, and Theology of the Body for Teens. Crystalina has spoken internationally to hundreds of thousands of people about the virtue of chastity, healing, and God's plan for human sexuality. Women Made New encourages women in need of personal healing, empowering them to become the women God created them to be.