The final step in overcoming depression is to let go of the past. A woman shared that her best friend ran off with her husband ten years earlier. She was deeply hurt by this incredible betrayal. She thought her life was ruined by those adulterers, and there was nothing she could do about it. For ten years she smoldered in bitterness and depression. Feelings of resentment and plots of revenge ruminated in her mind. I told her, I see you with one fist extended up to heaven where God has a firm grip on you. Your other fist is hanging on to your past and you aren’t about to let go. You are not even hanging onto God, but your heavenly Father is hanging on to you, His beloved child. Isn’t it time to let it go? You are only hurting yourself. At the end of the conference she worked through the “Steps To Freedom In Christ,” and she let it go. The next morning she was singing in choir with a countenance of a liberated child of God.

Once I held in my tightly clinched fist . . . ashes. Ashes from a burn inflicted upon my ten year-old body. Ashes I didn’t ask for. The scar was forced on me. And for seventeen years the fire smoldered. I kept my fist closed in secret, hating those ashes, yet unwilling to release them. Not sure if I could. Not convinced it was worth it. Marring the things I touched and leaving black marks everywhere . . . or so it seemed. I tried to undo it all, but the marks were always there to remind me that I couldn’t. I really couldn’t.  But God could! His sweet Holy Spirit spoke to my heart one night in tearful desperation. He whispered, “I want to give you beauty for your ashes, the oil of joy for your mourning and the garment of praise for your spirit of heaviness.” I had never heard of such a trade as this: Beauty? Beauty for ashes? My sadly stained memory – for the healing in His word. My soot-like dreams for His songs in the night? My helpless and hurting emotions for His ever constant peace?

How could I be so stubborn as to refuse an offer such as this? So willingly, yet in slow motion and yes, while sobbing, I opened my bent fingers and let the ashes drop to the ground. In silence, I heard the wind blow them away. Away from me . . . forever. I am now able to place my open hands gently around the fist of another hurting soul and say with confidence, “Let them go. There really is beauty beyond your comprehension. Go ahead – trust Him. His beauty for your ashes. Author Unknown.

Dr. Neil

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