Last night, while putting away the last of the chicken wings that had not been devoured by my food-lovin’ family, I thought about how some habits or problems can be like leftovers following us into the new year. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind leftovers, especially like pizza for breakfast, but what about leftover issues, feelings, and disappointments, from last year, that are still hanging around, and keeping us down? You know what happens to leftovers in the fridge when they’ve been around too long. They start to stink, and not look so good, and most of all they aren’t any good to you anymore. Bad habits, deep-seated hurts, and other problems can be just like that.
Sometimes we carry leftovers over from year to year, and sometimes they can add up for a lifetime. Imagine a lifetime of leftovers just sittin’ around in your fridge! Yuck! But let’s be honest, sometimes that’s how it is with leftover hurts….
When I was a very little girl my father left us…. He went off to fight in Vietnam, and afterwards he deserted his wife and four kids; ages four, three, two, and eight months. I was the oldest, and I remember feeling devastated…. deserted. For years as a child I would patiently stand in a corner at the front window, hoping to see my daddy come home, but sadly, all that came were my own quiet tears.
Despite this great disappointment, we had a happy childhood and upbringing. My grandmother sold all that she had, and came to live with us. This way my mom, who is a nurse could work full-time,while my sweet grandma took care of us, and made our home a cozy, wonderful place to be. Even so, from year to year, for many years I carried the leftovers of hurt and rejection that resulted from our father leaving us.
When I went off to college, I took all of his old record albums with me. Music from the 60’s that he left at our house. The music was over 20 years old but I liked listening to them. I guess it made me feel like I still had a part of him with me. Carrying this hurt around, caused me to become overly cautious, and suspicious of guys that I would date, not making any true connections, and completely intolerant of their short comings. My mom grew concerned, and said that she thought that I was over cautious about guys, because of what happened with my dad. She thought that I might need some counseling. To this I simply replied, “There’s nothing wrong with me, there’s just something wrong with them!”
I was nineteen by this time, and it was not long after this conversation with my mom, that I met the man who would become my future husband. My emotional leftovers and baggage, made it difficult in the beginning of our relationship. I felt vulnerable because I had never had my heart-broken before, and I realized that this was someone who I actually cared a lot about. Someone who could break my heart if he left me… Could I trust him??? The leftovers lingered on. Eventually, over time, I realized that our love was mutual, and years later it was actually my husband who helped me to leave those leftover hurts behind. He said, “Your father didn’t leave you because there was something wrong with you, he left because there was something wrong with his priorities as a father. This is about him not you.”
This sounded right to me, and I was led in my heart to forgive my father. As a Christian, I realized that in forgiving my father, and truly letting go of those past hurts, I would finally be free. Free of perfectionism, and fear of rejection, free to enjoy my life ,and move forward… Just free! No more stinky leftovers.