Lesson: How to Overcome the Past

Prov 9:10   The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Our entire life is made up of moments. Every moment helped to shape our personality, how we think, how we feel and how we react to others.

Some moments are bad.

Some moments are good. 

God can use good and bad moments to shape and develop  us over a lifetime. We must be able to look at those moments and identify how they affected us. How can it be used for good? To help develop Jesus in me? Because ultimately our goal is to be more like Jesus. As God heals our hearts we are able to appreciate even the bad times. God doesn’t create bad things to happen. But he is able to take the bad and use it for our good.

Sometimes you don’t realize how the past affects your present. Below is a good example of how an incident in childhood can affect how you react to people, how you react in your relationships, etc.

Story from April Cassidy “peacfulwife.com”

When I was 5 years old –  One Sunday morning, my twin sister and I were getting ready for church.  She asked me to buckle her sandals.  I told her, “Buckle your own sandals!  You’re 5 years old!”  And she kept saying “my tights are too tight, I can’t lean over!  Please buckle my sandals for me!!!” and asking me to buckle her sandals for her.

I eventually got frustrated with her and pushed her away.  We were at the top of the stairs.  She fell backwards down the stairs.  I can see the look of shock on her little 5 year old face still to this day.  I ran to my closet and hid.

My Daddy gave me the hardest spanking ever.  I didn’t often get spankings.  But I got one that day.  And I deserved it.  He said, “You should have checked on your sister and gone to get us to help.  She could have died or broken her neck!”

My Daddy was exactly right.  She definitely could have been severely injured or killed by what I did to her.

Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to my parents, the message I took from that day was this:

“I can never say no to someone when they ask me to do something for them that they could do for themselves.  If I say no, they might get really hurt or die.”

And so began my people pleasing efforts.  I also began to think I was VERY powerful – powerful enough to kill someone.  I also interpreted that I was VERY RESPONSIBLE FOR other people.  Me.  Not God.  Not my parents.  Me.

I don’t think there was any way my parents could have known that this was the message I absorbed from that experience.

When I was 8 years old –  My twin sister and a foreign exchange student, Patricia, and I were on top of the monkey bars.  Our classmates, John and Ryan, were climbing up each side like they were going to try to “get us.”  I said, “We need to jump!!!”  We all jumped.

I was fine.

My sister sprained her ankle.

Patricia broke her leg.

For months, I wanted my leg to be broken.

I felt SO responsible for my sister’s injury and Patricia’s injuries.

I thought:

“It is my fault that they got hurt.  I said to jump – and they did.  I am responsible for other people.  I have so much power over other people and I was wrong to say to jump.”

Many nights I would cry and cry because people were starving in the world and I was not fixing it.  I truly believed I was in charge of MUCH, MUCH more than I really was.  I thought I was “sovereign” not God.  My little girl’s mind created a small, weak, tiny, impotent picture of God, and a HUGE, POWERFUL picture of myself.

I did not understand where my responsibilities ended and God’s began.

I thought I was responsible FOR other people.  I thought I needed to be a parent to my siblings.  I thought I needed to fix the problems of the world.

That was a LOT of weight for a child to carry.  How I wish I had understood God’s sovereignty!

And yet, even in the midst of all that was very right, I misinterpreted a few events in my childhood that led me to have a warped understanding of my identity and God’s identity.

She translated these experiences into her marriage. She thought she was responsible for the behavior of her husband. This made her very controlling and demanding in her marriage. I highly recommend her blog. She gives so many great examples that are so helpful and practical.

The “Savoir Complex”

Sometimes you don’t realize how your past is affecting your present relationships and how you think and feel about others and yourself.

For example: Many women suffer from the “Savior Complex”. They choose men that are in trouble or have a lot of problems and thinks she can save them, help them to be better. No one can save anyone except Jesus. He is the only Savior of the world. Many women who feel this way also suffer from poor self image from her own past experiences. She is drawn to men that could hurt her. Instead of looking at the situation from a realistic perspective she only looks to how she can help this person. While helping someone is a good thing and ministering to others is what we are called to do, the motives behind it are not quite right. She thinks she can do it. Rather than allowing God to work in that man’s heart. She tries to make it happen for him. You can never do that. You are not the Holy Spirit to that man. You are not Jesus to that man. Only God can change the heart of a man. Stay out of God’s way and let God do it. Love people. Speak kindly. Point to Jesus in word and deed. Let God do the rest.

God can take any wrong, hurtful behaviors and help you overcome it.

God does not waste anything. He can use every event in your life to create in you precious treasure, spiritual fruit. No matter how traumatic or terrible. He can take it and make it valuable to you.

Here are some useful steps to change the effects of bad past experiences in current relationships.

1.  Identify how the experience made you feel about yourself and others. How did it make you treat others/yourself?

      Did it change the way you think about yourself? Did it make you think bad things about yourself? Did it make you distrust people? Or think badly of others.

2. Identify any bad habits/actions/thoughts that resulted from the experience.  We become conditioned to certain thoughts or behaviors. Something happens and it triggers a series of bad thoughts. Or we have always acted in a certain way and we say “that’s just the way it is, I was born that way”. If it is contrary to God’s word then you were not MADE that way by God. Sin over time will create behaviors in us that God is trying to purge out if we let him. We have to be willing to listen to the Holy Spirit speak to us and show us these behaviors/actions/thoughts/bad habits that resulted from past sins or bad experiences and let Him heal them.

3. Examine the thoughts you have regarding that situation. 

         Thoughts that are unforgiving, angry, etc. are sinful. The healing power of the blood of Jesus through forgiveness needs to be applied. Be willing to listen to the Holy Spirit              as he shows you who needs forgiveness.

4. Forgive and repent.  Matt 6:14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins

        Forgive those that hurt you and despitefully use you. Matt 5:44-But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for                 them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

       The hardest person to forgive is yourself sometimes. If you feel any blame or shame or condemnation. Identify why you feel that way. If you did something. Forgive                          yourself. If God can forgive you then you need to forgive you.

      Forgiving someone for hurting you does not condone that behavior at all. It sets you free. Holding onto past hurts only hurts you not them.

5. Ask God to speak to you truth about this situation. Allow Him to heal you.Many times you will find that the pain, regret, shame and bad thoughts that came from that experience will be put into a new perspective as God heals your mind and your spirit.  You will find that you no longer have pain associated with that memory. You will then be able to help others that suffered just as you did and they will find healing too.

How can a hurtful experience be used for good?

  • To help develop Jesus in me. Because ultimately our goal is to be more like Jesus.
  • To help others find healing and forgiveness.

Many people are able to minster to others as God has called us to after we find healing in our own lives. Think of all the women who have endured abuse now have counseling ministries to help other women.

You can’t minister to others until you have first endured it yourself and God has helped you through it.


Prayers of Forgiveness:

Holy Spirit, I ask that you show me areas in my life that need your forgiving power applied. Bring to my remembrance past experiences or situations that have caused hurt, resentment, anger, bitterness or condemnation or sin.

To forgive someone else:

Father, I purpose and choose to forgive_______________(name) for doing ___________________ __ to me. I release them from all debt to me. It is paid as the blood is applied. Come and heal my mind and body to heal me of anything the enemy has intended to harm me. Father, renew my mind. Tell me your truth about this.

To Forgive yourself:

Father, I purpose and choose to forgive myself for doing ___________________ __ .  I know that it is forgiven and I am free from all guilt, shame and condemnation. Because you remember it no more I will no longer hold this sin against myself. Apply your healing power to my mind and body to heal me of anything the enemy has intended to harm me. Father, heal and renew my mind. Tell me your truth about me and this experience.

To repent:

Father, I repent of ____________________ _. I apply the blood of Jesus to this sin.  I know that it is forgiven now and I am free from all guilt, shame and condemnation. Because you remember it no more I will no longer hold this sin against myself. Help me to follow your precepts. Show me your way Lord. Heal and renew my mind. Examine my heart oh, Lord and create in me a new heart. I yearn to know you more and live like Jesus. I know I am your child. Help me to hear your Holy Spirit speak and help me to follow your leading.


2 Responses to Lesson: How to Overcome the Past

  1. Julie Garro says:

    Very meaningful. A counselor might be able to use it to help someone.e

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