Growing up, I always thought I would enter into marriage as easily as princesses in fairy tales did. It seemed like a simple enough formula:
Step 1 – Don’t date any guy other than the one you will spend the rest of your life with
Step 2 – You’ll know “the one” when you meet him
Step 3 – Spend the rest of your life with that person
So you can imagine my dismay when I entered adulthood and found a trail of broken relationships behind me. Not only was my fairytale formula not as simple as I had anticipated, but now I had the extra challenge of cleaning up all the pain, confusion, and heartache that came with those failed relationships.
And I still struggle with the feelings my past has left me with. There are many times I have asked God, “Why did I have to go through all that heartbreak in the first place? What was the purpose?”
After a long time of asking, my questions received a reply: Your broken relationships show the darkest parts of your heart better than anything else.
That’s the truth, isn’t it? Our attitude towards people in our past shows hidden darkness that lurks in our hearts. Our disdain for our ex shows our bitterness. Losing our crush to someone else shows our envy. Anger towards someone for what they did years ago shows our unforgiving nature.
Past pains should not be denied or glossed over; our feelings need to be addressed, and sometimes it can take a very long time to mend. But for a moment, consider: what do your broken relationships reveal about you? Does bitterness, anger, or envy lurk within you? Are you trying to hold onto the past or are you looking forward to the future? Have you truly forgiven those who have hurt you?
We cannot change the past, but we can change our perspective on it. Failed relationships are, unfortunately, part of this life despite whatever relationship formula you have come up with. We cannot change what others have done; we cannot force them to apologize or take responsibility for their actions. But we can identify the darkness in ourselves and receive God’s help in cleansing us of our imperfections. We have to face the darkness the past shows in us, or else the future will always be tainted by our bitterness, and we will end up holding ourselves back from finding real joy in the present.
Verses to Consider:
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Philippians 3:12-13 (emphasis mine)
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…
Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart.