Therapy and Theology

Walk through your past; don't wallow in it. Deal with your past; don't dwell on it.

In the fourth episode of our miniseries titled "Boundaries Boot Camp," counselor Jim Cress will walk through simple steps to help you look back at your own story so you can better understand yourself and start your journey toward healing today.

Related Resources:
  • Download Lysa TerKeurst’s free resource "Is This Normal? 15 Red Flags You May Be Missing in Your Relationships." Stop tiptoeing around dysfunctions that are robbing you of inner peace, and learn the difference between a destructive pattern and a difficult season.
  • Continue your personal journey to setting better boundaries that lead to better relationships with the help of Lysa TerKeurst's book, Good Boundaries and Goodbyes: Loving Others Without Losing the Best of Who You Are. Purchase your copy today!
  • Ready to take the next step in finding your own personal Christian counselor? The American Association of Christian Counselors is a great place to find the right fit for you and your circumstances. Start your journey here.
  • Click here to download a transcript of this episode.
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What is Therapy and Theology?

Have you ever looked at a situation you’re facing in utter disbelief and thought, "How will I ever get over this?" Lysa TerKeurst understands. After years of heartbreak and emotional trauma, she realized it’s not about just getting over hard circumstances but learning how to work through what she has walked through. Now, she wants to help you do the same. That’s why Lysa teamed up with her personal, licensed professional counselor, Jim Cress, alongside the Director of Theological Research at Proverbs 31 Ministries, Dr. Joel Muddamalle, to bring you "Therapy & Theology." While Lysa, Jim and Joel do tackle some really hard topics, you’ll soon find they're just three friends having a great conversation and learning from each other along the way.

Jim Cress:
Hey, it's Jim Cress back with you again. So good to be visiting with you here. Hopefully something in this segment will be both helpful, maybe bring a little healing, some insight, and help you especially as you're in relationships on this very messy topic of boundaries.

Sometimes the question comes, “Why in the world would I ever go back and visit or revisit my past, my story?” Obviously, it can be painful, joyous, or even hard — very, very difficult. Sometimes people have said, “You know what? Here's the deal. I've spent my whole life trying to get geographically away from where I grew up or away from my story. Why would I want to go back to revisit that and look at some of the ... what I call the facts and the impact of my life story?” How do we have compassion on who we were in the past or the choices we made in the past?

Tell you what, our words frame our reality. I listen to words very closely. The word “compassion,” look at this, calm means with passion to suffer. You think about the passion of the Christ. So to have self-compassion, before I can even have compassion on other people, part of that is to listen, not in some vain way, but to suffer with, to walk through, my own story. What are some of the benefits of visiting? I would like to say at times, it's not just a one quick trip visiting. It'll be revisiting, maybe several times, very purposefully. How do we keep from just getting stuck? That's your fear. You're going to end up in the ditch, and you're going to say, "I'm stuck here. Can't get any traction."

Maybe you fear that I'll go back, and people will do this: they romanticize the past. If I could just go back to the good old days. I either hate those days or just the good old days, or they forward to the future and say, "Man, if I could just have this day come, if I can get through this next year, then it will be," or "I dread the next year," or "It'd be my luck, when my ship comes in, I'll be at the airport. I'm not even in the right place to deal with this."

So I want to just share with you a couple of things here that I've found helpful with my own life. You know what? I want to learn about my operating system. Let's borrow two of them, can we? Maybe you grew up in a PC world, not literally, but in the family of origin, the rules and roles, the regulations, the very operating system of your family, and now you're saying, "I want to live more as a Mac," or vice versa. Pick your poison. You're changing the operating system. And what I do is what God did with His people. See this with boundaries work all the time in healthy living.

See, God took His people out of Egypt, then He had to take Egypt out of them. So sometimes a person, you maybe, get out of your family of origin. You're not hopefully throwing rocks at them and hating your family, but you've got out of your family of origin. Now we got to take some of the unhealthy, toxic parts of your family out of you. That's a reason to go back. As I've said often, you’ve got to collect the dots in your story. Then you can connect the dots. Oh, that makes sense. And hopefully correct the dots. Do you think that's helpful as far as a reason to take a look back? I want you to walk through your past; don't wallow in your past. I want you to deal with your past; just don't dwell in the past. So we're going to walk through that past, knowing that God is with us.

I want you to realize, and you've heard us say this a bunch here, and if you've read any of Lysa's stuff or Therapy & Theology, that what I don't work out, I'll act out. So the stuff that's in me, it's like I don't even want to act this way. People will say to me, "The one thing I'm not going to do is be like my mom or my dad." If you're driving with that in your dashboard or up on the windshield, “I will not be,” you're often going to end up just like them.

Don't worry about who you're not going to be. Who's God called you to be and how do you get free to be yourself? I talk about the fact and the old quote that the past is often prologue. That's why we want to look at that. I do my little FIT principle, F-I-T. It's real simple. If you don't do anything else, it'll help you with boundaries; let me tell you. Look at the facts, that's the F. This happened to me. I think it'd be good to do it with a good therapist, a good friend, a pastor, somebody. F: facts. Look at the facts. This happened to me. I: impact. What did it do to you? And T is track. What track have I taken? Are you a people pleaser? Do you have low to no boundaries? If you're not giving yourself permission to just speak your truth.

Take that FIT principle, facts, impact, track, and realize as you go forward that God is calling you to walk in the light and the Truth in a world of people who are walking in the shadows and lies and deception. So you're going to have to embrace the fact you might feel alone. It may be the termination of some relationships as you walk in health when those other people might be walking in unhealth. Today, give yourself permission to look at your past and then to live going forward.