The Past, Latched Windows, and Forgiveness

I used to be so vulnerable to my past being a stumbling block in my every day. I was like a tiny little house, sitting on the prettiest lot, painted a crisp white with a vibrant blue door, with wildflowers growing along the path leading up to it, sunshine warming its exterior, visitors knocking and leaving treats on the front stoop--yet, I couldn't see it. With the windows latched shut, the door unanswered, my past hung around inside its sturdy walls--that, the only view to be seen. I didn't fully know of the beauty to be had in the every day. I might wander out, outside of this little house I created within me, see the delicate blooms, feel the warmth of the sun, and look like I fully knew of these simple joys; but what a sad picture of my heart one would truly see. All of these life giving things, the view outside, and the people who loved me: all of that juxtaposed blurry and in the background, while the collection of hurt, and guilt, and those heavy past burdens stood all so clearly in focus at the front of my heart.

And so, I'd wander out, but I'd always go back to my tiny little house, or remember what was stored up inside while I was away, behind those closed doors: pressing against latched windows, fogging my mind and tying up my ability to live freely, fully in the moment, openly to forgiveness, all stealing my ability to know joy as it truly truly is. I'd wander out, but at the end of the day, the tiny little house that I created within me was still there just filled with the collection of hurt from others, lies I created about myself, and anxiety from my past. It was there, and that house stayed, and I could not shake it.

The building blocks of this tiny little house in my heart appeared in those days when teenage awareness transitioned to young adulthood, and life slowly switched from the simplicity of childhood and the wild and free feeling of being a young girl (what my childhood was) to a jig saw puzzle of love and heartbreak, adolescent regrets, the pain and longing of wanting to feel fully wanted as a my father's daughter, self-criticism, and changes in acceptance: so many of which are tied to body, and image, and success (or what we label it as). As I navigated all of this: relationships with boys, awareness of my self, stark realities of life and sin, absence of what I wanted in my relationship with my dad, the changing of friendships, trying to fit in, and even stretching into self criticism as a newly married woman, those lies staring back in the mirror, the battle of the mind (I could go on), and all the muck that comes with that package--I learned how to hold on to it all. I learned how to take even the most subtle detail of my past and allow it to stay in my tiny little house. I allowed it to stay in and control how I felt about myself in the present moments of my life. And, of course, as those years from teenager to young adult became more and more, my house only filled, and I became better at not letting anything out. I locked the doors, sealed up the windows, and the light outside became harder and harder to see. Because when you fill your life with so much from the past, even the good, there is no room for anything but that, and you miss out on the present.

My past used to be a stumbling block. I allowed it to be this way. You see, I laid the brick work. I built up those walls. I closed those windows. I locked the door. It was me who didn't allow the sunshine and breeze to come in and freshen up my life, melt it like spring to winter, like a clean slate or canvas for a new painting and story to be written about the present.

I allowed my past to linger in my thoughts, be my crutch, hold me back. Until one day, a loud knock was at the locked front door. A light showed up so bright that even a latched window with curtains pulled tight couldn't keep dark. Like the early morning sun that wakes the slumbering, stirring those first moments of the day, rays kissing the air and singing "wake up! wake up! it's time to live!" And I couldn't resist it. I couldn't leave the door unanswered. I had to pull the curtains. I had to wake up, I had to give it up, I couldn't keep my collection of hurt and guilt away from that light any longer. I couldn't let the past hold cactive my present, and my future. So I didn't.

That pounding, that bright light, in a literal sense: that was the moment where I finally realized my role in it all. That is when I realized I had to give up everything I was holding onto: to give it up to God, to tell others about my anxiety in dealing with my past, through steadfast prayer, and to open up and air it all out in a sense to begin the process of forgiving others and forgiving myself. And to keep my little tiny house from being filled up, I have to do this daily. Because, really, I'll always be vulnerable to neglecting this place in my heart, and allowing the doors and window to bolt up. This is how I do it: Forgive daily. Choose to keep the windows open and the breeze coming in. Choose to clean up house if you will, for me through prayer and mindfulness, or a vulnerable conversation with a close friend, with Matt, or with myself, each and every day.

Everyone has a past. Everyone has hurt, let downs, stumblings, loss, and things they regret. And everyone has to deal with them in a real way. For me, it took years of prayer and true blindness to it all until I really understood how my past held me captive. I fell victim to my own default, to dwell on the collection of bad rather open the windows and see the good of the present. And that's when I realized my role in it all. God was always knocking, and I chose not to answer the door. The light was always peering in through the tightly closed windows of my heart, and I chose to never truly notice.

My past used to be a stumbling block, a hinderance to how I enjoyed my everyday, blinding me from opportunity and beauty that was right there waiting for me to see it, to grab it, to take it as what life is about--and I realize that now. I have learned how to keep that tiny little house bright, and it is a choice that I have to make daily.

What about you? Are your windows latched shut or wide open? Either way, the warmth of the sun and crispness of that air will always be right outside that door to your heart. If anything, know that. And know that someone will always be knocking. Are you choosing to let the present day in and air out what you are holding inside? Are you choosing to answer the door?

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This post is part of a series of 25 bloggers over 25 days sharing as part of the Skinny Dip Society Blog Tour, hosted by Katie Den Ouden. Be sure to check out Stephanie's post from yesterday, on Falling Back in Love With Yourself, and Caroline's post tomorrow. Katie is also doing a 21-Day Freedom challenge, which may be the perfect little addition for you to live a bit more freely and wildly each day. She is a total inspiration, and an amazing woman cultivating a community of people who want to live life wholly. You can read catch up on the past few week of the blog tour--over here


  1. Caroline Nichols2/19/2014

    This is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing from a vulnerable place!

  2. Ida Hatfield2/19/2014

    I truly saw the picture of this and I see how in my life as your mother I feel the guilt, and then for moments I feel worse, because I caused you pain or hurt. In my mind. But your sharing and letting the breeze in helps me to let go and feel free from that burden, in my mind. Thank you ... my blessing, my daughter.

  3. lauren tien2/19/2014

    You are my spring and my joy! No need for you to feel any guilt. :)

  4. lauren tien2/19/2014

    you're welcome Caroline! and thank you for your kind words!

  5. lauren tien2/20/2014

    You know, letting it go is one of the best things you can do for the present. And how freeing it is when you can do it fully, right? I am so grateful that I was invited to be a part of this blog tour, Katie- thank YOU!

  6. Christina Kwan2/27/2014

    I'm pretty speechless here. That was a beautiful and brave piece of writing, as lovely as you are. Ugh, you're so awesome. <3 Christina / tide & bloom


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