One of the powerful lessons I’ve learned over the past two decades is how much our past still impacts our present.
As much as I would like to believe my “past is the past”, it still can show up in my beliefs, fears and expectations.
Why Our Past Still Affects Us
It sort of makes sense if you think about it.
(1) Our past painful experiences always affect our view of the world.
(2) And we try to make sense of them, often without including God in the process.
(3) This can lead us to develop certain half-true beliefs.
(4) Then these half-true beliefs affect our present and negatively impact our behavior and relationships.
We might think: “I’ve messed up too much for God to accept me” so we decide “What I do doesn’t really matter as long as I have fun.”
We might think “I am a failure and am stuck with who I am” so we decide “Why should I make the effort to change?”
We might think “My spouse hurt me and isn’t ever going to change” so we decide “I better protect myself and find someone else”.
How God’s Character Affects Our Past
But none of these beliefs are true because they ignore God’s character and power.
God does accept us when we repent of the darkest sins in our life. He restores us!
None of us is stuck, we have the Holy Spirit on our side to help us change and grow.
And our spouse will change when we stay committed to the relationship and choose to allow God to change us first.
An Example of My Past Hurts
I struggled in my early life with feeling valued by others. I chose to become overly critical of my performance and pursue challenging goals to prove my worth.
Even today it affects my response when I receive a compliment.
Other Person: “Rob, I really enjoyed your blog post last week. It really encouraged me.”
Me: “Really? I thought that was one of my worst posts. I guess God can use anything for good.”
Then someone pointed out this pattern. And I realized that I had a problem from my past.
As I meditated on it I could see that my response was based on several half-truths.
First, that false humility was a good thing.
Second, that I should have done better. Every time.
And third that “I just need to be more perfect”.
My past wound wasn’t just affecting me. It also affected my marriage because I would get depressed over my perceived failures and isolate from Lou Ann.
What I’ve found is that past hurts, not released to the Holy Spirit will harm you today. Like these other examples I’ve seen.
Bob feels insecure. He believes that if he works harder, he will feel like he is a winner. Meanwhile his wife is lonely and resentful of his time spent at work. They live as roommates because Bob’s work has become his mistress.
Susan has struggled with past experiences of abandonment. She believes she must maintain her physical beauty as she ages, so that her husband will not abandon her. But despite her husband’s love she is obsessed with her looks.
Jay never felt loved by his parents as a kid so he over compensates by setting few boundaries for his kids, hoping that they will feel more loved that way. He and his wife often fight over this issue because the children always push the boundaries.
Louise was raised in a family with emotional abuse. She has a hard time trusting others and feels fear when her spouse is not with her. Her anxiety causes her to try to control her husband’s time, but then he feels smothered and pushes harder for time away.
That’s why I encourage you to not let past hurts continue to harm your life. God loves to heal and restore us.
You can start by asking God to reveal where you have been wounded but have never fully come to peace with God about it.
And here’s a book that is a powerful resource in reviewing our past. It is an easy read and will help you walk through understanding your past (and those you love).
Click the link and buy a copy, then go through it with your spouse!
Questions for You to Discuss
What are significant past hurts that you have struggled with before?
Which ones are really settled because you can see God’s hand in using them for good?
Which past hurts are still negatively affecting your marriage, your ability to trust, have hope and be open to your dreams today?
Romans 8:28 Genesis 50:20-21