Letting Go of the Past

by | Oct 8, 2012 | Uncategorized

Providential Relationships

He sees me wince, grab my lower back with one hand, balance the cup steeping tea in the other.  Leans over to grab a cup and asks if the low back pain is normal for me. I tell him it usually happens when I’m doing something new I’ve never done before, like this coach training session we’re doing together.

This man who fell out of a window and flies free from the cocoon of pain, he tells me the body often remembers what the mind forgets. The same physical response happens in similar circumstances, he tells me. “Do you remember it, the first time you held yourself tight doing something new,” he asks.

And right there, over the table of cream and sugar I remember it, like God pulling out a forgotten chapter in the story of my life.

When it All Started

A few months into her fifteenth year, she boards a Greyhound bus for the first time.  She hoists an oversized brown teddy bear and small suitcase up the steps, navigating the narrow aisle.  Her eyes ping pong back to front, side to side, assessing open seats avoiding eye contact with strangers.

She takes a seat next to the window, stares at the crowd below watching couples kiss, families wrap remembering around shoulders one last time.  Worries the community she leaves behind will forget her. Prays the new one won’t reject her.

The bear, a gift from friends at her going away party the night before, it sits in the aisle seat next to her blocking off the odd and strange.

On this day, pressed against cold glass, she holds herself tight in fear.

Pivotal Circumstances

I put the tea down on the table to catch my breath. The man whose new home is healing, he whispers a quiet prayer among the others pouring coffee, grabbing napkins. And I cross the threshold into letting go of what holds tight from the past when I sit back down in my office chair, lean back against the towel wrapped ice pack.

That bus carried me from Missouri to Oklahoma. To the one bedroom apartment stacked with Barry Manilow eight tracks on the table across from the cot I slept on for two years beside my Aunt Paula. Because I love my mother, not what the alcohol did to both of us.

Fear loosened its grip the day I stood on concrete halos of exhaust and held hands with security. But my body never forgot.

And that providential meeting in a fifteen minute break around a skirted table in the corner, it wet the ground of dormant seeds. And faith sprouted.

Now, when God extends a platter of pivotal circumstance to try, my body remembers and sighs peace. He was with me on the bus. He is with me now.  I taste and see that the Lord is good.

Who in your life has God used to grow your faith? Will you join me in thanking God for them?

Linking with Ann, Michelle and Laura.

This is the eighth post in the series 31 Days of Letting Go. You can read the collective here. If you are a writer, I invite you to link up any post you’ve written on the theme of letting go in the comments here on Friday. Subscribe to receive the series in your inbox or feed by adding your address in the side bar under Follow Redemptions Beauty.

Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here: https://shellymillerwriter.com/free-resources/


  1. Sharon O

    Wow… isn’t is amazing and strange how we can go back into a past ‘place’ and be there, at that moment in time, remember smells, remember faces, remember feelings shared or not, and then as quickly move back into the present and remember the warm tea we were drinking as we moved down ‘memory lane’. I am been there so many times. It is a surreal moment.

  2. Lynn Morrissey

    What a beautifully redemptive and healing story, Shelly. And what a beautiful, faithful God we serve. How tenderly and gently He has taken you back, pivot by pivot, through your past, showing you He was there, literally, at every turn. (Oh, thank you, Lord!) I am so touched by the poignancy of how, at only fifteen, through extremely difficult circumstances, you actually set out on your own in the world. What tremendous courage you demonstrated despite your fear. And I think that God gently gifts us with glimpses of past pain or fear through small, unexpected windows–like a hurting wince, a distant tune, a fleeting fragrance, a rediscovered photograph–to shed light on what we endured, but didn’t fully remember because it would have overwhelmed us at the time. When God prompts us to encounter our past in small doses, it doesn’t hurt as deeply, and in retrospect, we can make sense of it and see His purposes in having allowed it. Thank you so much, Shelly, for sharing such a tender place with us. I’m sure God is using this to prompt many of us to open some small window on our past, allowing the fresh breeze of His Spirit to sweep through us with healing and wholeness.

  3. Elizabeth Stewart

    Layer upon layer the healing comes. Beautiful post.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Like peeling an onion Elizabeth, you’re so right. Thank you.

  4. Holly

    Shelly, this was absolutely beautiful. The body does remember those phantom pains, yes? But to know that God is in the remembering,it is all just grace. Thank you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It’s a gift really. The remembering so He can heal what is still undone. Knowing He wants complete healing so we can live in freedom. It was nice connecting with you here and on twitter today Holly. Just love the way God uses you to inspire with words.

  5. Lisa notes...

    “…my body remembers and sighs peace. He was with me on the bus. He is with me now. I taste and see that the Lord is good.”

    Such a beautiful perspective on the good coming from pain. Thank you, Shelly. I’m touched.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I think the fact that He used that stranger, who I knew of through a mutual friend, to reveal truth, well, I was a bit undone to say the least.

  6. Mary Beth

    At this time in my life, God is using my son to grow my faith. I know it’s said repeatedly, but I’ve found that nothing in life has molded me more than motherhood. I’m thankful for my son for an abundance of reasons, and this is one of them.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh, I get that Mary. He uses my kids to change and grow me too. But there have been some heroes of my faith who took the risk to speak into my life and provide a moment of pivotal change because of it. I’m so grateful for their bold faith.

  7. Lori Slice Hatcher

    So glad that He is there to “bind up the brokenhearted.” Thanks for reminding me.

  8. kelliwoodford

    This is what we always must return to, isn’t it, Shelly? Tracing His fingerprint, even amidst all the pain of our memories.
    He. was. there.
    Confidence for the future always rides on remembering His faithfulness in the past.
    Redemption’s beauty, indeed.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It moves me to tears often just thinking about it Kelli. The way He has always been with me, even in the pain and loneliness. It’s where the name of my blog comes from, knowing the beauty of redemption.

  9. Paula

    The torn leaf, with a cast shadow that you captured says more than some words. When a life is torn by circumstance, the ever present shadow of someone who cares can help to restore. God has used you to grow faith. You are casting a shadow on those who look to your words……including me.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I love that you got what that image was intended to represent Paula. And I’m so thankful for you, for the way you have and continue to love me unconditionally. Oh my. Those were some of my most treasured memories, sharing your little apartment. Like a folded flower opening in the hope of what could be.

  10. kd sullivan

    As you know I too, have been noticing the patterns that life gives…and His presence in all of it. Today, I’m thankful for friends who will not allow me to give up on His plans for me, even when it appears that my circumstances do….

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It’s just so comforting knowing He cares about what makes us cry and laugh and sing isn’t it? I believe in you Kim, and your dreams. He has not forgotten.

  11. Stefanie Brown (@stefanieybrown)

    I’m THRILLED you are speaking at the Jumping Tandem retreat. I’m going to ask my husband if I can go. Not sure, though. It would be my 5th conference for 2013. We’ll see! I’d hate for you to be so close to me and me not be able to meet face to face:))
    Have a blessed day, sweet friend!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Well, I told Deidra that speaking seems a bit like the wrong word. I’m doing the morning devotional, just a small piece of the weekend. I am honored to be part of it. I can’t wait. And it would truly be a gift to hug you in person Stefanie. I hope you can come.

  12. Laura Brown

    What a brave girl. What a brave teddy bear.
    It seems like the way to a safe place, a safe home, often involves a a step of faith into a scary journey.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I didn’t know how to be anything else. Sometimes being forced to do something that feels uncomfortable is the only way to become brave. And I’m so grateful for what those moments taught me to appreciate in life now. Of course we often say hindsight is 20/20 vision.

  13. sogalthoughts

    Beautiful, healing words here.

  14. Jillie

    Ah Shelly…Letting go of the Past…this is huge for me. I have worked for years, through books, tapes, conferences, retreats—all with the Lord’s help and leading—to find and give forgiveness to those central people in my life who caused me great pain. But…forgiving myself? This is hardest of all. I know all of my past is covered by the blood of The Lamb. I know I am a new creation. Yet, when those pivotal times and memories resurface? The shame is sometimes unbearable.
    God has sent several people into my life—from my pastor-brother-in-law who led me to Christ in the first place, to people like my own son, who caused me to look deeply into my ‘religious mindsets’ and strongholds to begin thinking in new ways about other Christians’ beliefs and practices. And honestly, the blogs I read today, written by beautiful, Christ-centred, anointed women…well, they are challenging me and growing me too! And I am thankful. So thankful, Shelly.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I’m so glad you’ve had people in your life to be a conduit to healing Jillie. It’s one step at a time isn’t it? We all want to walk past the hard work necessary to obtain freedom but its just not that way. Thankful you’ve found blogs to be a piece leading to transformation. What a gift that is!

  15. DollyL (@SoulStops)

    Wow…what a powerful story of God’s faithfulness to you, and for that man’s wisdom…yes, our bodies do remember…it is an honor to read more of your story, and how God has taken care of you…truly beautiful, how God heals…thanks for sharing, Shelly 🙂

  16. Megan Willome

    I had not thought about body memories in that way, but I know exactly the kind of tightness you’re describing, just a different circumstance.

    Thanks for opening up and sharing some more of your story.

  17. Dea

    Catching up over here. So much I want to say…but I will keep it short :)! Memories surface to be redeemed, come to light so be transformed in the radiance of righteousness. He works all things together for good… Loving your letting go days…how quickly they are passing.

  18. ljbmom

    Oh, Shelly, I felt my body grow taut in the reading. So grateful for the ways He led you to the deep breathe of relaxation. Your photos speak soft surrender.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I’m so grateful for the way He constantly surprises me with grace.

  19. thisgalsjourney

    Wow….amazing! He is so good.

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