Chapter 20: Don’t Be Controlled by Past Hurts

Don’t Be Controlled by Past Hurts

A black suit and a black tie. A white shirt and black shoes. Formal attire worn on two Saturdays, one week apart, and for very different reasons.

On one Saturday, I led a wedding in Franklin Springs, Georgia, outside on a very hot morning. We celebrated the uniting of a couple. Songs, prayers, and many words.

On the following Saturday, I helped lead a funeral service in Elberton, Georgia, on a morning of reminders. We honored my ninety-year-old father who passed away fifteen Saturdays before that day. Songs, prayers, and many words.

A story of hello. A story of goodbye.

A glance into a future together. A glance back at a past together.

Very different ceremonies on very similar Saturdays.

Hearing wedding vows voiced as sweat dripped in pace. Hearing military sounds as honor held its place.

Seeing a bride and groom smile, sincerely. Seeing grins and tears merge, simultaneously.

Promises stated. Memories repeated.

Those Saturdays’ stories weren’t about me. But I felt them both, professionally and personally.

Counseling a couple as they prepared for living the promises they would state—then publicly announcing them as husband and wife.

Seeking various forms of counseling myself as we delayed my father’s funeral during a time of international health concerns—then publicly confessing the reality of his death.

I listened to the pledges voiced. I listened to the stories told. Saturdays so different. Saturdays so similar. Summer heat on both days. Same June. Same state. And, for me, the same black suit and black tie and white shirt and black shoes.

I need to continue learning from those Saturdays: about love and commitment, about life and death, about joy and grief.

How can I become better at living what I claim to believe? How can I stay true—no matter the temperature or time or hurts or fears or thrills—to promises I believe and pledges I’ve made? How can I live so that when my life on earth ends, I’ll be like a bride walking joyfully for a life that never ends?

On normal days, I’m not wearing a black suit or black tie or white shirt or black shoes. But, on these days, I’m pondering those questions. And I’m praying God helps me live life so that whoever attends my funeral will know they were loved.

So, how can they believe that at my funeral? As people tell stories about my story, will they know they were loved by me?

One of the best ways to love and to show love is to not be controlled by past hurts.

Too often too many of us allow too many past hurts rule our present and future decisions. We stay connected to, and often controlled by, past hurts.

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  1. What are the deepest hurts you’ve experienced in your life?
  2. How have those painful experiences influenced you?
  3. How are they still influencing you?
  4. What suggestions do you offer yourself about not letting pains from the past control your present and future decisions?


Chris Maxwell’s book Equilibrium is a psychologist’s dream handbook. It reads like a therapist doing the complex, mysterious, yet meaningful work of helping a client regain balance in his or her life.

Beverly J. Oxley, PhD

Licensed Psychologist, Founder and Director of Wellsprings Psychological Resources Founder and Executive Director of The Ark Family Preservation Center