How much do you apply the truth of what you know to your life? Do you take verses such as Romans 12:1 and make practical application of that truth to your life? Do you consider yourself a living sacrifice? Are you really excited about growing and changing? Does progressive sanctification energize you?
I hope so because if you are not excited about these things then you are probably a poor steward of your memories and lessons of your past. A woman who focuses on all that God has done in her past is applying truth today out of love and thanksgiving for the faithfulness of God.
If you have had the sad experience of growing up in a bad family situation you may not look at your past as something to remember with fondness. Your childhood may be something you would rather forget ever happened and the idea of looking back on it with thanksgiving might make your blood boil.
Thankfulness is born out of perspective. You made it through, you survived it all. God has equipped you with the ability to minister to a select group of people who are currently suffering what you once did. You can be an encouragement to them, a lighthouse in their stormy darkness, a beacon of hope- providing that you have not become or remain embittered by the experience.
You can help others begin to look at the fact that God was completely aware of the circumstances of their lives before any of it ever happened. You can teach them about His sovereignty and His wisdom in allowing it all to take place, and you can minister to them in the way you know only someone who has “been there” can minister to them. You understand the emotions and the heart attitudes that are prevalent and address them in that persons present, perhaps preventing future problems for them.
This is a productive and God-honoring use of past painful events and will bring God glory. In serving others you will also achieve healing for yourself through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in your heart and life.
Not long ago I met a woman who had been severely abused at home and further abused when she ran away from that home. She was abducted and raped and lived on the streets as a drug addict for a number of years. While her past is tragic and even horrific to have lived through, she uses the experience to help others through her counseling ministry. Rather than hiding it all away where it can be of no use to anyone, she patiently ministers truth and love to other women who have been down similar paths in life.
This is being a living sacrifice, and available for God to use in ways that are holy and acceptable for His glory.