It is impossible to correct wrong attitudes and emotions that result frompast hurts without in some way affecting how we cope with the painful memories of those bad experiences. These attitudes and ways of thinking, so deeply embedded in our hearts, subconciously hold us back from believing God’s promises to us of peace, comfort and spiritual liberation from the past.
When we are held back by the guilt and pain coming from hurtful memories, we miss out on experiencing many spiritual blessings that God is more than ready and willing to give us. The broken heart is restored through release from the bondage to hurtful memories, a process that includes forgiveness and emotional reconstruction under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Many people cannot face their painful memories and suffer inevitable emotional trauma. They need the power of the Holy Spirit and the gift of faith to be able to face the past, thus freeing themselves to live fully in the present and the future. Understood in this way, the “healing of memories” is not the elimination of painful memories from our conciousness; it is God’s Spirit taking away their sting and healing the resultant emotional damage.
Another way of thinking about the healing of bad memories is that though God does not eliminate the memories, He does reframe memories so they are no longer significant factors in how we feel, think and act. Their hurt recedes into the background. We may now think of ourselves as new creations in Christ, not as victims of past hurts–no matter how terrible or unjust those hurts may have been.
The most essential ingredient is inner healing prayer, the kind of prayer that gets to the deeper memories and associated hurts and bitternesses that hold us back from true freedom in Christ, is the two-sided coin of repentance and forgiveness.
See the parable of the unmerciful servant in Mathew 18:21-35. Jesus introduced the parable by saying there is no sin committed against us that we cannot forgive; then through the parable He taught that we can always forgive others because God has already forgiven us far more than we will ever need to forgive someone else.
The Lord forgives unforgiveable sins. The point is that when we have wronged God or someone else, we must learn to receive forgiveness, no matter how great our sins.
God has given us mercy, so we may extend it to others, and if we forgive others we will continue to experience God’s forgiveness.
There is one last principle regarding forgiveness that is important to maintaining emotional health: Each Christian is responsible in every conflict to put things right by receiving or giving forgiveness. We have no right to withhold forgiveness or refuse to receive forgiveness, because God has extended His mercy to us. Extending forgiveness is implicit to reconciliation.