Many believe past relationships are a sign of failure or time they wasted with the wrong person. Yes, relationships leave us with feelings of sorrow, uncertainty, and guilt but there is much wisdom from these uncomfortable emotions.
Instead of trying to understand why it ended, the real question is What am I meant to learn? I’ve spent much time looking to the past to find answers, only to find that’s it’s better to focus on the lessons in order to move on gracefully to attract new relationships.
Here are five beautiful lessons I learned from past relationships:
1. People don’t belong to you.
I used to believe that when I was committed to someone, that person belonged to me. Of course, now I understand that people are not possessions. This means you don’t have a claim on the lifestyle choices they make. You don’t get to control their behavior, even if it’s obviously not ideal for the relationship. The best you can do is to give it to the Lord in prayer, try your best to communicate your feelings to your mate, and create boundaries from a space of trust.
2. We all need “me time.”
Your relationships should never take the place of your relationship with God. Not even when you’re married. Put aside time just for you and the Lord.
Finding love means making the most of the moments you have together while also honoring the time you spend apart doing the things that make you feel alive. It’s painful to lose yourself in the process of loving another. (Trust me, I know!)
3. You are complete in Him. ( not him… But Him)
Jerry McGuire screwed up our sense of relationships with the “you complete me” junk. If we’re looking for validation and love from a source outside ourselves, we’re setting ourselves up for co-dependency issues.
In the past, I needed a man to validate me; my self-worth deteriorated when I wasn’t in a relationship. What I didn’t realize was that I was giving away my power and putting my happiness at the mercy of another person.
If you aren’t happy with yourself, you won’t find that happiness in a relationship either. You have to cultivate self-love and happiness in your life first, before you can share it with another.
4. You can only change yourself, so don’t fool yourself to believing you will transform your mate.
Sure, we can motivate others by our example, but expecting someone to lose ten pounds or change the way she deals with anger is not honoring who the other person is.
It’s also not a very effective strategy to get what you want. People grow when they feel an internal desire to make a shift. Being pressured to change may lead to temporary improvements, but it’s almost certain to give rise to feelings of resentment.
Respond from a space of calm. When you shift your energy, the other person will automatically feel your new energy. People are motivated to behave differently by the example you lead, not the words you speak.
And if you’re feeling desperate for someone to change, ask yourself why you’re with someone who needs so much fixing to begin with?
5. Some relationships are simply here for a season.
Letting go gracefully, with complete forgiveness and love for the other person requires understanding and self-forgiveness. Some relationships are brought to us not as the happily ever after, but only for a season. Being able to let go of the past allows us to be fully present emotionally, spiritually and physically in future relationships.
Relationships can help us grow and evolve. Sometimes the purpose is to test us or to teach us. Some will use you and others will bring the best out in you. Sometimes the relationship will no longer serve your highest good and your paths will naturally separate so you can both continue growing.