I poked at my chicken pad kai mao with my fork and looked up at our new friends across the table. They had only just met John for the first time, and were asking questions about our custody agreements. It is so lovely to be making new friends together who only know Papa and I now as we are, together: and don’t know the whole long years of mess behind us.

But I am realizing that when I first begin to catch someone up to speed on things like custody, or what John’s tattoos mean, I am vague and removed. But as momentum builds in the conversation, other things – things that really should stay buried, get stirred up again. And by the end of the conversation I generally do not like who I am and what I sound like. Too much reflection on things that were, and on the destruction. My vision gets pulled downward.

A couple hours after that dinner conversation, the Lord spoke to me about this directly. He showed me how this kind of pattern is still serving to tie me to the past. And what do I actually get out of it? Am I looking for pity? For justification? I don’t actually want or need those things. I want our new relationships to be built on strength; for them to see us as we are now. To see all that God has done in each of us and our family, without having to really know all the gory details of the refining fire He used to shape us.

What God is concerned with is the end result – what came out of that fire; a more beautiful and stronger me. And where He is taking that new me into the future. I am convinced that He longs to give me a sanctified memory. That I can choose to think on the things that were good, noble, praiseworthy – and leave the rest with Him. I can call to mind the surprise check in the mail, God’s miraculous provision, Newton’s Spirit-led prayers, Eliot’s joyful antics. I can talk about how God showed up – again, and again, and again. I can remember how bright His goodness was in that dark place. How unfailingly faithful He was at each point in my wilderness.

He is also concerned with how I talk about His kids, that He loves so much. When I’m saying anything about John, I am talking about my Dad’s much-loved son. He does not see any of us by our past or our sin. He is relentlessly calling forth the good and life. My words about them need to convey His authentic heart – of faith, of hope, and of love.

It is a powerful thing indeed for us to choose to playback the highlight reel from our lives., and not the bloopers.

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