By Jael Shatlock: You have three choices when it comes to the past, especially when the past hurts:

  1. Stay in the past
  2. Jump back-and-forth from past to present

I know that might sound a little harsh, but I truly believe it.   I've worn what seems like billions of labels throughout my life, but I'll talk about the one I believe that about the most: Victim.

I could have dwelt on that label -- choosing not to change, or even faking change.  Or, I could have found a way to move forward.

I found a way.  I found strength in God.  I can do all things through Christ -- who strengthens me.

At age 13, I was sexually abused by my grandpa. Yes it is sad ... but it's true.  I held on to that for a long time, hating him secretly. I was bitter and unforgiving; I wanted revenge, and I raged with anger and sadness!  It became who I was.

In the time since then, I became a Christian.  I had embraced forgiveness, but I was unable to move on from my own bitterness.  It consumed me.

This past summer, I told a friend one day, "I'm scared...what if he (my grandpa) dies?  What will be left of me then?  I'll be nothing..."

And my friend said to me, with both anger and sadness, "What he did to you doesn't define who you are!"

I'd heard it before, but something stuck this time.  Two days later, I decided something had to change.  I had to shed this label.  I visited that same friend and told him I wanted to move on.  Fear melted as he encouraged me.  We began to pray, because that's all I knew to do.  And from somewhere deep inside of me, it happened.

"God, I forgive my Grandpa."

Tears streamed down my face, not because the past had changed, but because the future was changing.  I pictured Jesus popping the terrible flashbacks one by one, as if they were bubbles.  Sadness turned to joy, and joy turned to peace.

I left that place changed, and I'm taking it day by day.  It's been a bumpy road, but it's been worth it.  I no longer feel held down by the label of Victim; I no longer hide behind my past.  I now live every day as a new me.

What is the new you that's waiting to be freed?  What is the label still holding you down?