Summary: This is the 4th Devotion in a series entitled, "Building Relationships that Last

Every one of us have been influenced by various factors from our past, and these have shaped our lives. Most of these are from our childhood, and therefore were beyond our control. These include our place of birth, our parents, siblings, extended family, school, society, church and other environments that we were exposed to. There are other aspects of our lives that we chose later on, as grown-ups, some of which might have been beneficial to us, and some detrimental to us as well.

We are often not aware of the amount of baggage we carry with us, but this becomes evident later in life, mostly in close relationships. For instance, if we grew up in an environment where we experienced love, acceptance, patience, positivity, encouragement, fairness, security, tolerance, faith and godliness, it would be quite easy for us to relate with others the same way. On the other hand, if we grew up with negativity, separation, hurts, abuse, mistrust, criticism, hostility, ridicule, shame or trauma of any kind, relationships would then become an ordeal.

Then there are those emotional, mental, physical scars we carry from hurts that people have caused us, adverse circumstances or wrong choices that we had made in the past. While some of these things could be set right, there are many that could linger on, and if ignored or not dealt with, they would surface later in life, and often ruin other relationships, especially those that are most intimate to us.

The bible gives examples of people who failed, but also tells us how they dealt with their failures.

The way David dealt with his failures

Think about King David, the man about whom God gave this testimony as recorded in Acts 13:22, “But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’ ” (NLT)

Nonetheless, at one point in his tenure as king, we see that David really messed it up. He lusted after Bathsheba, who was Uriah’s wife, committed adultery, lied, deceived, manipulated and even had Uriah killed in battle. David thought he could continue this way, and felt no remorse whatsoever, until the Lord confronted him through the prophet Nathan.

Here is how David accepted the rebuke of God, and this is a summary of his prayer for repentance as written in Psalm 51. David begged God for mercy, sought God for a total cleansing from deep within, recognized His sinful rebellion, acknowledged that his sin was against God, accepted God’s judgement, pleaded with God to not remove His Holy Spirit from his life, and requested that the Lord restore back to him the joy of His Salvation.

Yes, David sinned and displeased God big time, but when he repented, he was totally forgiven and restored back in his relationship with God.

The Samaritan Woman

In John Chapter 4 we read about the encounter that Jesus had with a Samaritan woman. It seemed like she had secluded herself from everyone else, and was probably hiding her life of immorality. During the course of her conversation with Jesus, when she realized that Jesus knew all about her past, the fact that she had had five husbands, and was then living with one who was not her husband, she had a complete change of heart. When she realized that Jesus was indeed the Messiah who was to come, here’s what she did.

We read in John 4:28-30, “Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?’ They came out of the town and made their way toward him.’” (NLT)

The woman who was probably alone and in hiding, ran back into the town to tell people that the Messiah had come to their town. She did not seem to care anymore about her past, because she had found the One who would love and accept her in spite of her past. No longer was she afraid to mingle with others for she experienced a sense of release, and knew that Jesus had freed her from the shackles of her sinful past.

What happens when we do not get over our past?

There are several things that can happen when one does not get healed of the past. There is a sense of guilt that weighs heavily on them, and this hinders them from having healthy and normal relationships with others. Past experiences and hurts begin to dictate how we handle present relationships. If we have not allowed God to deal with these issues from the past, they will surface every now and then, and make our close relationships burdensome. A past that is not healed will either make some isolate themselves, while others will throw all their hurts and negativity on those closest to them.

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