Moving Past Your Past - The One Year Love Talk Devotional for Couples

Moving Past Your Past

When you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.

Mark 11:25

A month ago (March 25) we made a suggestion for you to examine your proverbial “baggage” together. Why? Because the way you think about your past is bound to impact your present—especially when it comes to your marriage relationship. That’s why we now want to help you circle back to the topic once more.

Consider this study. Participants were asked to write for just fifteen minutes a day about a disturbing experience. They did this for three or four days in a row. Forget polish and politeness. The point was not to craft a wonderful essay but to dig deeply into one’s emotional junkyard, then translate the experience onto the page. James Pennebaker, a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of the study, then compared a group of college students who wrote about trauma with a group who wrote about trivial things (how they named their pet or the kinds of clothes they like). Before the study, the forty-six students in the study had visited the campus health clinic at similar rates. But after the exercise, the trauma writers’ visits dropped by 50 percent relative to the others.a Other studies have found that identifying one’s feelings about past events increased the level of disease-fighting lymphocytes circulating in the bloodstream. It also lowered blood pressure.

Notice an important distinction. Spending time with your past, coming to terms with it, putting it in perspective, is very different than wallowing in your past and using it as a scapegoat. In order to get beyond your past, you sometimes need to get into your past. That’s why it’s often helpful to explore it together.

The point is that the emotional response you have to your history needs to be talked about, identified, and owned. It is what will allow you to move past your past. One person’s dysfunctional family background is another’s entertaining tale or comedy routine. Healthy people are not blessed with an unblemished history. They suffer the same struggles, but they carry their negative history with little ill effect because they understand it to be part of their story. They have come to grips with the hurtful emotions a family member engenders, for example, and they acknowledge when those emotions arise. Because they have traced back the source of their hurt and looked at it from different angles, they are able to forgive and prayerfully set it aside. Their emotional baggage no longer pulls them down.

This can be true of you as well.

One problem with gazing too frequently into the past is that we may turn around to find the future has run out on us.

—Michael Cibenko

a James Pennebaker, Writing to Heal (Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2004).

From the Book:

The One Year Love Talk Devotional for Couples cover image

The One Year Love Talk Devotional for Couples
By Dr. Les Parrott and Dr. Leslie Parrott

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