Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.Philippians 3:12-14 ESV
It is a commonly held belief that we must dredge up our past in order to move forward. The world teaches us we must relive the difficult moments in our lives in order to heal or that we have a right to bring it up repeatedly as a defense for our actions. Some even encourage our identity to be tied to our sin or suffering from the past. I am the child of divorce. I had a neglectful parent. There are Christians today engaged in programs that have us diving into our pasts, or engaging in activities that help us to release the hurtful “energies” from long ago, but it’s crucial to understand this philosophy comes to the church from the world, not from His word.
Don’t read that wrong—it is important to reflect on the things we have walked through in our marriages to ensure we view them from the right perspective. If our hurts were caused by our spouse’s sinful actions, it’s critical to our marriage that we recognize the brokenness of the person we live with and extend to them the same forgiveness given to us. If our pain was caused by suffering, it’s essential to our well-being that we have a correct theology of why God allows difficult circumstances into our lives. If you don’t have a correct view of your past, you will struggle to move forward, but that is where we are to stop. While it’s important to reflect on our past momentarily to align our view with God’s perspective, we are clearly instructed here to leave the past behind us.
Reliving hurtful moments brings us to a dangerous state of mind, and opens up an opportunity for the enemy to attack. Sins we have moved past or hurts we have forgiven suddenly become larger than life again, and we can develop a victim mentality focusing on all the things that have gone wrong. This is a very horizontal or self-focused view of the past, and can influence our present or future responses in a divisive or destructive manner. Be very careful to view your past vertically by aligning it to the truths in His Word, then move on. Otherwise, you put the current state of your marriage at risk. Don’t bring it up again. Don’t remind them of their wrongs, don’t use a past suffering to defend your current actions.
There should be a balance between reviewing your past and leaving it behind. When you look back, you should view your past through the lens of His Word, and leave it at that. What was God trying to teach you through that trial? How was He trying to grow you more like Him? How was He chastening and disciplining you? That’s it. Once you’ve pulled those lessons, you are to leave it in the past and press on.
If you are struggling to pull the lessons out of your past, ask for help. If you can’t find the lesson, you will struggle to move on. But once you do, you need to capture the thought that brings you back to a difficult moment in your past and make it obedient to Christ. It’s not easy, that’s why “press on” is an action verb. It takes work, but you are the one who controls what you think about. Choose to not dwell on the past as He commands, and choose to press on. For when you do, you will find freedom from the guilt and the hurt, and you will find His peace.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗