The Past Again

I recently saw a comedy entitled “You Again,” and starring an impressive cast of female actresses – Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, Kristen Bell, & Betty White. The movie is about a beautiful, successful young woman (Bell) having to confront her miserable high school memories when the girl who tormented her is set to marry her older brother.

Most of the antics in the movie were funny, but also painful to watch. I kept thinking about my own teenage experiences and the pain that haunted me for years after. I had to wonder, during the movie, what it would be like to finally confront the person who hurt me so badly back then and tell her just how I really feel. Would I feel vindicated somehow? Would a face-to-face really change anything?

The problem that Bell’s character has – the root problem- is that she still sees herself in the same malnourished light as she did in high school. Regardless of the beautiful person she had become, she refused to let go of the past. This is the same reason why I (and I suspect many others) can also relate to that character – we have bound ourselves to our past, and refuse to move beyond whatever painful period we are clinging to.

For Bell, those years in high school were what actually defined her, and not anything she had accomplished beyond that point. And when she finally exacted her revenge, the aftertaste was not as sweet as she thought it would be. Vengeance in the hands of humans never plays out the way we want it to because it is in the wrong hands to begin with.

Long after the credits finished rolling and I turned off my TV, the movie stayed with me. I rooted for the nemesis to get her comeuppance, as though I was also getting something out of it.  I realized that I was still seeking my own vengeance for the past, still bound to something that happened to me so many years ago. But God is not going to avenge the past for me, and anything I do will only end up causing more pain.

Unlike the characters in the movie, Christians know that the way to move past the hurt is to love. I Corinthians 13 is well-known as the “love chapter,” and is really one of the most powerful sections of the Bible. To walk in God’s love is to be free of all hurts and wrongs, to look at any person and see the best, and to be the light in the world that repels the darkness. Love is seeing the world and oneself from God’s perspective.

So I love the girl who ruined my teenage life… I forgive her, and I hope that she has a good life. I can only go so far into the future with the past bound to my life, so I have to choose one or the other. Letting go of the past may not be easy, but I can do it because I have love and love never fails. It is not a petty sentiment on a greeting card, but a battle cry to the foe that is my past – LOVE NEVER FAILS.

 

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