Here are 4 signs God is telling you to cleanse your memories about someone from your past.
And if you haven’t heard, enrollment in my relationship training courses at AGW University will close this Sunday, March 7th, at 11:59pm (EST). I created these courses for Christians who want to be married one day but also want to prepare their hearts now in singleness so they will be ready when God does lead them to the right person. For more information, feel free to click here before the enrollment period closes.
1. God Is Calling You to Cleanse Your Thoughts About Someone If These Memories Are Causing You to Get Stuck in the Moment
What do I mean by “cleansing your memories about someone”? I don’t mean that God is calling you to erase your memories about someone in your past. God can remove sinful feelings, he can stop unhealthy thinking, and he can give you the self-control you need to stop thinking about someone. But it’s possible that your human brain will always store the memories of a past relationship that you find painful, confusing, or haunting if you still want to be with that person.
While you may always remember the past in your brain, you don’t always need to feel the past painfully in your heart. That’s really what I’m talking about when using this phrase “cleanse your memories about someone.” When your memories are contaminated with sin, pain, betrayal, or any other hurtful emotion, your memories about someone can cause you to get stuck in old moments from your past.
Sadly, this is what often happens when people are abused. Many people who get abused end up suffering from delayed maturity because they often struggle to move past those seasons where the abuse took place. If someone was abused when they were 10, or 18, or at 25, oftentimes their emotional development get’s stuck there because the pain and wounds in their hearts cause them to stop moving forward in life because they fear what could be ahead.
This same pattern often happens in relationships. When something painful happens between you and someone you had strong feelings for, that pain will often cause you to get stuck in that moment, unable to move forward in your heart because you fear getting hurt again.
Only through Christ’s healing power can you get unstuck from a past moment that is still controlling your life. You have to break free from this painful relationship wound by rejecting the lies it taught you and believing God’s truth instead. No matter what has happened in your past, you can move forward with God because he will always be with you if you are saved through Jesus.
As God said in Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
2. God Is Calling You to Cleanse Your Thoughts About Someone If Your Memories Are Tempting You to Create a Bad Sequel
Another bad outcome of having unhealthy memories about a past relationship is that you can begin to idolize this past experience. This idolization can cause many bad things to occur, but one bad thing that often occurs is that we start attempting to recreate these magical memories we have begun to idolize. Instead of living your life with God, you start trying to get God to recreate a past season of your life so you can feel that way again.
This will cause you to try to date the same person again even though it ended badly. It will cause you to measure every new relationship against these old memories you have, which is unfair because these memories no longer reflect reality but are now built up into something greater than what really happened. In essence, people try to create a sequel to those memories they are idolizing.
Not all movie sequels are bad, but the worst sequels are those which simply redo the old storyline again. The best sequels are those which continue the story rather than just trying to redo the old story. All that to say, you have to cleanse your memories from all idolization if you want to live a new story with God instead of trying to recreate this past season you have turned into an idol.
It’s a lot like how the Israelites were always looking back to Egypt, like their time there as slaves was so great. After they left Egypt, Numbers 11:4-6 states:
Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, ‘Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”
You see how they have altered their memories and have begun to idolize their past? They said, “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing . . . .” Really? You don’t remember that you were literally in slavery? That fish was costing you everything. When the people were still in Egypt, Exodus 2:23-25 states:
During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.”
I love that line, “and God knew.” God knows your story. He heard your cries from your past and he hears your cries about your past. Thankfully God’s memory is holier than ours. We remember the past inaccurately. But God remembers his faithfulness to us perfectly. While the Israelites remembered free fish that cost them nothing which never happened, God remembered the truth about their cries for deliverance because they were slaves. He remembers his covenant. It says, “God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.”
If your memories area causing you to alter the past and idolize it into something better than it really was and if you are trying to recreate a bad sequel like the Israelites where doing, this is a sign God is calling you to cleanse your memory.
3. If Your Memories About Someone Are Enflaming Feelings of Revenge, This Is a Sign God Wants You to Cleanse Your Memories About This Person
One way you can cleanse your memories about someone is by forgiving this person of the wrongs they committed against you. Again, your brain may always store the memories of a past painful experience, but through forgiving someone from your heart, the sting from those sins against you can be removed. In that sense you can “forget” this person, meaning they don’t need to have any control over you now. But when we don’t forgive, we keep remembering their wrongs, our hearts then want revenge, and this craving for revenge causes us to be unable to move forward in life.
If you want to stop thinking about someone and no longer feel anger when you have memories about this person, you have to forgive. We don’t need to seek revenge because God will deal with their sin one way or the other in his timing.
As 2 Peter 2:9 states, “. . . the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment . . .
4. God Is Calling You to Cleanse Your Memories About Someone If They Are Causing You to Feel Ashamed
The modern church portrays herself like a G-rated movie, but the gospel is not for G-rated stories. Christian movies portray sin in laughable ways compared to the real secret sins happening in this world. The church often plays music that is very chipper, fun, and happy. That’s fine if you are going to church to have a positive, clean experience. But Jesus didn’t die his bloody death so we could feel safe, happy, and suburbanized on Sunday morning. He died and was raised so our most disgusting, vile, secret sins can be cleansed from our records forever. Ephesians 5:8-14 states:
. . . for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.”
For many of us, we would never dare to share the memories our brains contain from the secret sins we’ve committed. The darkest porn sites, the vilest thoughts, orgies, premarital sex, addiction, deceit – these are the types of sins that people lay awake thinking about and wish they never did. As Paul said, “For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.”
But notice Paul is not speaking about people out there somewhere. He’s talking about all of us, “for at one time you were darkness.” Paul doesn’t tell us to run from our past. He tells us to expose our past, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” But how? How do we expose the unfruitful works of darkness”? He continues, “But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.”
The way you will overcome the shameful memories you have is not by running from them and trying to hide from them. You will be free from your shame when you bring your memories into Christ’s light, for when we come into the light the darkness becomes light.
In other words, when you bring your past darkness to Christ, Christ’s light removes it. This is the gospel. Our darkness goes onto the cross and Christ’s light envelops us. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 states, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
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