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Reflections of Grace 149: Stuck in a Pattern?

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Stuck in a pattern? Prevent the past from repeating itself

Georgia had finally reached the end of her rope when she came in for coaching.  She was on her third husband and could not understand why he was so much like the former two husbands who were rageful, controlling and vengeful.  She longed for a peaceful marriage but her feeble attempts to ‘fix’ these men had made her feel like such a failure and her husband helped her along with that by saying that yes, she was a loser in everything she did.

But what Georgia didn’t understand was that she kept seeking her own healing from years of abuse by a rageful father through men that were just like him.  She would just jump into the first relationship that made her feel comfortable– without seeking healing from Jesus so she could walk away from her past and make wiser choices in who she connected with.

Stuck in a pattern? Prevent the past from repeating itself

Image: Sabra Kay

The problem was the men that made her feel comfortable only made her feel that way because they reminded her of her father.  She had this need to repeat the life she had with him– to try to make it come out right in order to fill the gaping hole her father left in her in her growing up years.

And the pattern was bound to be repeated in failed marriages over and over again until Georgia finally found her way to allow the Holy Spirit into those wounded places.

Unhealed relational wounds drive us to compulsive attempts to repair the damage. Without being aware of it, we seek out people we believe can “fix” what’s wrong with us or help us find a piece of ourselves we feel is missing.

We function emotionally like the man dying of thirst who sees a mirage and hurries to it only to find it is dry sand.   His perceptions are driven by his need.

We are rarely aware that something in us wants completeness.  The truth is, we long for Jesus continually because He is the one who has really set eternity in our hearts. Within us, our spirits, we know the answer lies in Him. But our soulish realm – the mind, will, and emotions – has to be renewed and healed so we can change ourselves from the inside out.

But if we remain unaware of the powerful forces at work within us conditioned by our past emotional injuries, such as our family dynamics and how we responded to it, we can be blind to its influence and seek out the completeness we lack by making all the wrong choices. For example, consider the following scenarios:

  • The codependent person lacks assertiveness and the ability to confront, so she attracts controlling and aggressive people. (Georgia’s case)
  • The rageful person can’t bear to feel emotions that make her sad, so she finds empathic people who won’t confront her moods.
  • The rigid, black-and-white person with walls a mile thick is not able to let go of control, so he seeks out spontaneous, creative people who won’t try to control him.
  • The over-responsible, guilt-ridden person lacks self-care and feels like a loser, so she finds self-absorbed people who care for no one but themselves.

These kinds of responses do not reflect God’s intentions for us in any way. And they don’t lead to healthy or fulfilling connections.

But we are not complete without relationship with Him and knowing Him as our healer from the past.

  • We have missing pieces— holes in us that we carry from childhood into adulthood.

The path to completeness or wholeness is to find a relational context and healthy relationships within community in the body of Christ… finding those who you can trust and be vulnerable with and who can help you finish the emotional work that enables you to grow into the capacities you lack and become who you were always meant to be.

  • The first step is admitting to the pattern and seeking help.

“You complete me” is a great line from a movie, but it doesn’t work in real relationships.  Another human being is simply not capable of making you feel complete.   Your sense of worth has to come from God and His complete work in your life.   Our pasts to not have to dictate our futures.

That is why most of us need to put less energy into romance and more into personal growth. It pays off later in romance.  I recently saw this posting on Face book that got a resounding “YES” from me.

“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek HIM to find her!”

  • Complete people attract other complete people.

We all need relationships that are supportive and caring in order to thrive. And while there can be excitement and drama with a person who follows your old patterns of dysfunction, it will ultimately be exhausting, if not debilitating. Setting boundaries and expressing your needs clearly will not only detract unhealthy people from seeking you out, and make them less attractive to you, but it will also attract people who are healthy enough to be there for you as well.

And that is where the real passion, excitement and God’s love will emerge.

Don’t let unhealed relational wounds or the pain of a past relationship affect your future.

You CAN prevent the past from repeating itself.

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