“Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find? The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him! A king who sits on the throne of judgment winnows all evil with his eyes. Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin?” – Proverbs 20:6-9.
As you well know, marriage is a subject near and dear to my heart. Marriage is a gift from God that He wants you to fully enjoy. But if the pain you’ve suffered in your past is still impacting your relationship now, you can’t fully embrace the new life God offers you because you’ll be stuck in a frustrating rewind of the past.
When I married Angela I didn’t know everything about her. Nor did she know everything about me. Neither of us knew much about married life, but we wanted to figure it out together—the two of us. I was learning how to be her husband, and she was learning how to be my wife. And that included dealing with any issues in our past. The truth is the past isn’t the past until it has been dealt with properly, because our past affects today in a negative manner. Therefore, it is still the present.
We must look back and deal with the past in order to move ahead. Your best bet for a successful future is to own your share of the past. In order to deal with your past, you first of all have to be willing to be blatantly honest with yourself. We need to honestly look at some of our less than stellar qualities and ask this question: “Could I be this way because of something in my past that I haven’t dealt with?”
The answer could be yes because we are the sum of all our experiences. The good things in our past show up in the positive aspects of our lives today. But here is the thing. The bad things in our pasts that we haven’t dealt with can create personality problems, emotional issues, relational difficulties and potentially, trouble in marriage. Those same bad things can also show up as positive aspects of our lives if we give them to God and we learn from them.
Jean Paul Sartre once said “Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” So what are we going to do to dissolve the hold the past has on us? In marriage as in very phase of life, the first thing to do is to surrender to Jesus and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you anything or anyone in your past you need to deal with. And that includes forgiveness. Forgiveness is an essential part of marriage and when we forgive, we give up the right to punish others. The simple act of forgiveness can set you free from your past and free from your future faster than almost anything else you can do.
When Angela and I stood hand in hand at the altar, promising to stay in this covenant for better or worse, in sickness and in health, until one of us died, we knew little of each other’s past. But it really didn’t matter unless we let it matter. We were focused on our future and what God planned for us. We were focused on loving God and loving each other.
Now, after all these years of marriage, we know much more about the past. We have learned to look past what is not important down to the terra firma. And that is one relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Talk about a time when you’ve seen someone repeat mistakes from the past because that person didn’t take ownership of his or her part of those mistakes.
- Why do you think it’s so difficult for people to recognize their roles in past mistakes?
- What are some things in your past from which you’ve hidden? In what ways did that make you unavailable for the people in your life?
- What is one area of your life where you haven’t owned your part of past results? What can you do this week to begin to own your part?