If we lived in a perfect world, you wouldn’t be battling past pain. You also wouldn’t need advice, and sometimes the advice given wouldn’t need modification. But unfortunately, because you and I live in a fallen world, that isn’t reality. You are experiencing deep hurts from your past.
And if we lived in a semi-perfect world, you still wouldn’t have to modify the great advice, which David Clarke gave in this article. (I’m referring to the advice that comes from Dr Clarke’s book, “The Total Marriage Makeover.”) But again, unfortunately, we have to deal with reality, rather than the way we wish it would be.
God answers prayers in many different ways. And one of them may be that you will eventually become stronger through this trial. This is true despite the pain you have experienced and despite the fact that you weren’t able to find ways to heal in “conventional” ways. God didn’t MAKE hurtful events happen to you. But He can and will redeem even the worst of circumstances if we offer them to Him for His healing touch.
Modification in Advice Given
And that’s where “modification” comes in, as it pertains to dealing with your painful circumstances. Whether you are a wife who is struggling to break free from the bondage of what has happened in your past, or you are a husband who is struggling, there are times we come across great advice. But sometimes we need to modify it in the ways it works best. Please know this. There is no human advice given that is “all knowing” or all encompassing. That only goes for what God says and how He leads.
So, with that being the situation, please read the advice given in the article (from Dr Clarke’s book) and modify it appropriately. It’s called “gleaning.” Ask the Holy Spirit, our “Wonderful Counselor,” to show you what you glean. He can show you what will work to bring healing into your heart and into your marital situation.
Please don’t put your energy into blaming your spouse for not participating with you in the way it may have worked best. He or she has different emotional baggage going on, for whatever reason. And because of this you need to modify the afore-mentioned article. Focus your energies on the task at hand. Don’t get side-tracked. And don’t be judgmental and punishing towards your spouse, because of the way you have to approach your issues. Focus on getting healthy emotionally.
The Future Could Be Different
Perhaps in the future, he or she will join in with you in partnership on this journey. Or maybe it will be after the major work is done and you are in a better place emotionally. I don’t know.
You have the need to put your past behind you in a way that is healthy. It’s important so you don’t keep dragging it around with you in the future. Otherwise it will keep popping up and invading your peace of mind. Whether you have a spouse who will participate WITH you in the process or not, don’t let that hold you back.
We’re told in Philippians 3:12-14, “…I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
You have a mission ahead of you. And it doesn’t include dragging that, which will hold you back from accomplishing that goal. So press on. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to deal with what you need to, so you can be set free. Modify. Don’t entertain the enemy of our faith in this. Go with God. If one way won’t work, ask God to lead you to the way, which will work.
Information That is Helpful
This is what I had to do with my past. I went through many of the steps, which David Clarke presented. I didn’t have that information in front of me. But God led me through them, nonetheless, because I was willing to do anything to find emotional healing. I was so glad to find the information presented in the article so it could be given to you in written form. Hopefully, it will shorten the duration of this painful season for you.
I didn’t have that. I was haunted for a number of years because of past abuses. All of this dumped over into our marriage. Eventually, my husband Steve became a victim of my past. That is because I projected the hurt I had experienced from other men in my life, onto him. It’s as if I blamed all men and so by default, Steve (who didn’t do anything to deserve it) received the brunt of the lies I believed. I stopped being intimate with my husband because of past abuses, which assaulted me emotionally. Certain actions triggered bad memories.
Marriage Held Hostage
Finally, God showed me that enough was enough. I would (and so would my marriage) always remain a prisoner of my past and many innocent people (including my husband) would be hurt if I didn’t find a way to break free. With all of the determination and intentionality in my heart I could muster, I put my hand into God’s. I told Him that no matter what, I would do whatever it took to find healing. No longer would I, or my marriage, be held hostage.
And so God lead me to many of the steps, which Dr Clarke recommends. It was a painful journey. But healing was at the end of it all. And along the way, my husband Steve joined me. I couldn’t do it in the same way Dr Clarke recommends. That wouldn’t have worked out for the dynamics of our relationship. I’m sure if we could have, it would have been a less painful process. But it was what it was. Both my husband and I were not at the maturity level and as emotionally able to take all of that on, at the time.
The Scar of the Past
But I can tell you that even though I was doubtful that I could ever get past what I had lived through as a child and teenager, God did an amazing work. I can truthfully tell you that what I experienced is no longer something I’m haunted by. And I no longer drag it into my marriage and project onto my husband. We have a GREAT relationship. And while I haven’t forgotten what happened to me in the past, it no longer has me as its hostage. It’s like having a scar. You can see and know that there was pain involved. But it no longer hurts like it did when it was a fresh wound. It’s a reminder that there was pain involved but the sting is gone.
I hope that for you. I hope you will participate with God in doing whatever it takes to go through the process necessary to look at, unearth, deal with, and then properly shelf, that which is hurting you emotionally. Pray, seek, reach out for, modify as God leads, and do the work you need to do.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
I want to close with the following scripture that I mentioned above, which is found in Philippians 3:12-14. But I will share it in the Living Bible version. That is what God used to inspire me to keep pressing on. I have much to be thankful for in so many ways. Above all, I hope my life will continually be lived as one big THANK YOU for all God has done and is doing. And I hope you will come to that place, as well.
“I don’t mean to say I am perfect. I haven’t learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be. No, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.“
May it be so!
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.