How To Let Go Of The Past To Strengthen Your Marriage

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Many of us think that once we chose to follow Christ, we should be instantly transformed, sort of like the healing ministry on TBN … BAM – you’re healed! But we forget that living the victorious life and walking in freedom in Christ is a journey rather than a one-time event; healing takes time, after all.

We all have a story, a past with pain and deep hurts, and most of us just put a band-aid on and keep going. We are a culture walking around with wounds that affect how we interact with other people, including (and most importantly) our spouse.

Choosing to heal means we have to make a decision to go on a journey to work our way through the dark parts of our heart. It’s not an easy choice, but it’s the one you must make for the health of your marriage.

How The Past Interrupts The Present

So why do we need to confront our past? Because Jesus asks us to. The Bible tells us that our past affects our present. But going back and looking at the areas in our life where we have been hurt is a daunting task. Most of us would rather walk around limping and pretending we are fine.

Even though everyone else can see our coping mechanisms but us, we persist in the “everything’s okay” line because we are afraid of digging up the pain of the past. Those unresolved issues continue to cause problems in our present.

Confront The Wounds

In John 5:7-9, Jesus asks this question to a lame man at the pool of Bethsaida:

“Would you like to get well?” “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.” Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking!

It’s easy for us to note how the man wasn’t super-excited about answering Jesus. He makes excuses and he blames others. Noticing our own inconsistency, however, is far more difficult.

A constant sore spot in my marriage was certain expectations my husband had of me regarding the kids’ manners and structure. Every time he reminded me of something I forgot, I exploded. My kneejerk reactions were far from kind or loving. But the truth was painful. Behind my defensiveness was a childhood plagued by divorce and multiple homes. With a little work, I might have been able to tell him, “I forget to remind the kids to brush their teeth in the morning because I didn’t have anyone reminding me when I grew up.”

But that kind of soul honesty meant I need to deal with the wounds from the past. We say things like, “Why bother letting someone into my heart? They are just going to hurt me. I’m never going to change; I’m a _____ person just like my dad.” (Insert “angry,” “addict,” “avoider,” etc.).

It’s much easier to pass off our healing or blame someone else for our lack of spiritual healing and growth.

True Healing vs. Band-Aids

In the passage from John, Jesus didn’t focus on his friends for not putting the man in the water. No, he addresses the man who needs to heal. And he does the same with us.

Would you rather be roped to the past and stuck, or decide to heal? Jesus didn’t get mad at the man for not answering. He simply commanded him to stand up. The man had a choice: trust that Jesus could heal him, or stay lame forever.

Choose A Better Future

The heart of God meets us in this decision. God wants us to live in freedom, unshackled and unchained from the past. His love is big enough to help us stand. Consider Joseph who suffered unbearable trials and yet, by God’s grace, thrived despite abandonment, unfair persecution and imprisonment.

Joseph didn’t let the past hinder his future. Instead, his pain prepared him for the future in a unique way. God prepared him to serve as Pharaoh’s right-hand man. God molded him into a man ready for a ministry of feeding a nation. Joseph didn’t let bitterness hold him back from God-sized dreams. We forget that great things rest on the shoulders of great trials.

Looking back to our past for the purpose of healing, to process, sort, grieve and move on, is a good thing. God needs us to stand up and open the door of our hearts for his divine healing. Our past can be redeemed no matter how broken.

A for me, I chose to stand up and confront the past. I started to take responsibility for past hurts that affected my present life. I journeyed into the hurt and remembered how I felt as a kid moving from home to home who often parented herself. I confronted my emotions and examined how those wounds from my childhood currently affect me. And I prayed and asked God to redeem my wounds, to build new memories for my kids of nurture and care, and to use this pain to make me a better mom and wife.

God uses marriage as a mirror to reflect back our broken parts. The process of growth isn’t pretty (or easy), but becoming the wife I want to be requires an investment. Only we can determine if we have the courage and the tenacity to confront and let go of our past to make way for a brighter future.

You may also be interested in Laying A Marriage Foundation To Build A Strong Relationship

Samantha Keller (AKA Sam) is a blogger, freelance writer and mother of three. She is a lover of Jesus, extra-strong coffee, poke bowls and spontaneous adventure with her high-energy pastor hubby-Tim Keller. Sam is the co-author of Secrets of the Father, and along with her husband facilitates dating and pre-marital seminars in the Southern California area. Sam is feisty with her pen and has a knack for finding both God and humor in the smallest details. She loves to mouth off about her favorite topics-dating after divorce, faith, parenting and relationships at www.scrappysam.com.