Do you wish you could change your past? If so, you will want to read Cynthia Barnett’s blog to learn about three men who changed their own personal history. “Change your Past: a Mourner, an Addict and a Crooked Tax Collector” was first published on March 18, 2017 on The Good Men Project.
The past is past and we can’t change it. After all, it happened! If we remember the past with pain, the pain may appear as grief, regret, self-blame or other negative feelings. Sure, we cherish the pleasant memories, but can we rid ourselves of the painful ones? Can we revise, redeem, even overrule the impact of previous experiences on our lives?
A powerful story from over 2000 years ago gives us a clue. It concerns a crooked tax collector named Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus wanted more than anything to meet the man who healed others of their sorry past histories as adulterers, bigots, and sufferers from disease. Perhaps he wanted this kind of transformation for himself. Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus passing by in the crowds and was rewarded with a hearty invitation from Jesus to be the Master’s host—a great honor. Joyfully, Zacchaeus vowed then and there to “restore fourfold” anything he’d stolen from others. No more corrupt, defrauding identity for Zacchaeus. The Christly recognition of his worthiness restored his innocent self-image. Zacchaeus felt reborn, set aside his past, and stepped into his future (Luke 19).
I saw this same phenomenon with my father. An alcoholic for twenty years, my dad had managed to hide his habit for a long time. But finally, when the addiction began to rear its ugly head in embarrassing incidents, our family insisted he find the help he needed to overcome this dependency.
At first, my dad resisted any and all suggestions from us. But he did love my mom very much, and often listened to the spiritual insights she had gained through her prayers for him. She, and we three daughters, were certainly praying earnestly. We wrote letters to him, reminding him of the better, finer self we believed him to be. At some point, a more spiritual sense of Dad’s good, God-created identity began to appear.