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Pondering the Past

Karen and I recently returned to an “old stomping ground” in

Mt. Pocono, PA. Our families were involved in what we now see as a cult group that owned property near the Mr. Pocono airport. We met there annually for our attempt at keeping the Feast of Tabernacles from Leviticus 23.

I say, “attempt” because the Feast was originally kept in little huts called sukkot in Hebrew. We interpreted that as meaning hotels, motels, campsites, etc.; and we were mandated to save and then spend 10% of our families income over a 7-8 day time-frame.

It was Biblically in error, but often fun nonetheless. Despite the rain and 3 hour services (sometimes twice a day), we have bitter-sweet memories of those childhood years and were both very pensive as we walked what’s left of the grounds including some abandoned buildings, overgrown pathways, etc. We remember the family times and great meals...and the confusion of the false teaching we received.

Sometimes the past is like that—a mix of good and bad. Rarely is it simply one or the other. As a pastor, I've counseled scores of people who, while suffering with the vestiges of an abusive past, have good memories from those times as well.

At the risk of being overly simplistic, let me share a few keys to dealing with those "mixed" memories:

* Keep the good and celebrate it. Sometimes we feel the need to "throw the baby out with the bathwater." That is, we want everything to be simple--black or white--positive or negative. Rarely is this true. Give yourself permission to relish the good's OK.

* Toss the bad. Call it what it is--bad. Then put it behind you. It helped shape you, but it doesn't define you. It's OK to admit it was bad and to "let it go."

* Don't hide it. Once you're comfortable with the reality of the good and bad, acknowledge it. No need to hide it or try to "spin it" to make it all sound wonderful. Those who love you will embrace the whole package. It's your reality.

* Finally, share it. I don't mean broadcast it all on social media per se. What I do mean is to discuss and share it with others who may have gone through it with you or at least have been through something similar.

I'm OK with this Pocono memory. My hope is that no matter what your past, you'll be able to move forward positively, embracing the good and the bad along the way....

To that end,

Pastor Joel

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