Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Many years ago psychologists insisted that the only way to emotionally and psychologically heal was to dig deep into the past, root every hurt out, and then examine it. However, during the last few decades psychologists have realized that not only does digging into the past not work, it often creates more damage and more pain. People have even been known to imagine things that didn’t actually happen simply because of the prodding and suggestions presented by the psychologist. In other words, they have discovered that prodding into the past is like taking a wound that is healing and cut it open again every day in order to see if there is anything else in there that wasn’t discovered before. That only keeps the wound from healing and creates the possibility of infection and other problems.

This newer approach to psychology is consistent with what we learn in the scriptures. Never in scripture does the Lord instruct us to dig into the past. Healing the past is part of what the Atonement is all about. He knows we have no power or ability to change the past. What happened, happened, and no matter how much we fret over, worry about, or strain to remember the past it will not change anything. That is our Savior’s job. All concentrating on the past will do is distract us and keep us from doing our job which is to move forward in the present moment doing the very best we can today.

This is illustrated beautifully in the story of the adulterous woman who is brought to the Savior by a band of men determined to have her stoned. Instead of responding to the men’s demands, the Savior stoops down and writes in the dust of the pavement. Finally he stands and says that if any of them is without sin, he should cast the first stone. (John 8:1-11). Condemned by their own hearts, the men depart one by one. At this point the Savior approaches the woman and asks if anyone condemns her. When she answers that no man does, He says to her, “Neither do I. Go thy way, and sin no more.”

She is accused of a terrible sin which usually means she has a past that includes hurt and pain and sorrow. This is most likely not the first time something bad like this has happened to her. But instead of saying, examine your past and see what has pained you or you won’t be able to get better, the Savior simply instructs her to go forward and not sin any more. The adversary wants to hold us prisoners to our past. Jesus Christ knows that He is the only one that can heal the past, and that if the adulterous woman or you and I will move forward and take care of each present moment, He can heal even the past. That is one of the great promises of Jesus Christ; a promise that delivers great hope to each one of us.


SuSu said...

This is so so true. So often we get caught in the web of our past and forget to look forward to our future and all that holds. Great post. Thank you!

Wendi said...

Amen. Thank you for this insight. :)

Anonymous said...

Christ is the only one who can heal, but sometimes he does this by opening and cleaning the wound. Sometimes this is also painful. Sometimes, we do need to look at things that we haven't been able to.

Anonymous said...

Bringing up sins and transgressions that have been fully dealt with is un-Christlike, and it is something that none of us should do. We need to let people repent and improve and get better. That is what the Son of God died for.

I do think we need to be careful, however, not to assume that sins are simply washed away by time if full and complete repentance hasn't taken place. Note this from Elder Christofferson:

"In my youth I once was negligent in a way that caused a minor injury to one of my brothers. I did not own up to my stupidity at the time, and no one ever knew about my role in the matter. Years later I was praying that God would reveal to me anything in my life that needed correction so that I might be found more acceptable before Him, and this incident came to my mind. I had forgotten about it, but the Spirit whispered that this was an unresolved transgression I needed to confess. I called my brother, apologized, and asked for his forgiveness, which he promptly and generously gave. My embarrassment and regret would have been less had I apologized when the accident happened.

"It was interesting and significant to me that the Lord had not forgotten about that event of the distant past even though I had. Sins do not take care of themselves or simply fade away. Sins do not get 'swept under the rug' in the eternal economy of things. They must be dealt with, and the wonderful thing is that because of the Savior’s atoning grace, they can be dealt with in a much happier and less painful manner than directly satisfying offended justice ourselves." ( )

True repentance includes confession to the Lord, to proper Priesthood authority, and to the one who has been wronged. No passage of time, no matter how long, nullifies that requirement.