The One Thing I Wish Everyone Could Understand About Past Relationships

Everyone has relationships that don’t work out for the long haul and relational pain that came out of those connections. In my journey of growing and helping others experience transformation, I have found that so many people carry deep relationship frustration; combustion that turns into deep resentment and bitterness.

The Missing Ingredient

Yet over and over, I have found a key perspective to be missing.

We do not realize a key mindset regarding our relationships that is so important.

It took me a while to learn this. I banged my head against the wall a bunch of times until this one concept sunk into my perspective.

This one thing helped me to not get so toxic, angry and bitter over past relationship. It would help leaders to not get so hung up on difficult relationships. It would help people to not get so wound up into the pain of some relationships that did not go the distance.

Here is the Key

So here’s the simple key that can enhance your relational grid and clean off some layers of toxicity in your heart.

Most relationships in our lives are for a season.

So simple, right? Yet we forget this.

God often places relationships in our lives for certain assignments, things we need to learn or areas we need to be sharpened in. There are relationships designed to accompany the season we are currently in. These relationships can be refreshing and propel us to new growth.

In our desperation to possess quality long term connection, we can prematurely hope the relationship will last for the long haul. We put all our expectation into the person fulfilling every area of our life, rather than appreciating the specific qualities the person imparts to us.

Not Knowing It’s Time to Move On

Covenant relationships are those special connections designed to go the long haul. I don’t believe all relationships are meant to go that far.

I am not saying we should lower our expectation for quality relationships, we just need a realistic understanding so that we do not place unnecessary burdens on what we think people need to be for us.

Sometimes one party wants a covenant, long term relationship and the other person is not ready for that, not capable or just not interested in it. This is where things get hairy. The one wanting more gets angered, not realizing the relationship may not be designed to go as far as they want.

Too often we make the mistake of not realizing that it is time to let go and move on.

So we force the relationship to work. We try harder and harder.

We get resentful because we are working harder on the relationship than the other person is.

We get angry because of what we are not getting out of the relationship.

We bang our heads against the wall and stress over burdens we don’t need to carry.

Growing to the Next Level

When we don’t realize its time to move on, both people can be hindered from their growth. We must recognize that the season of our life may be changing. When this occurs, many relationship adjustments take place. This is where people struggle to adjust . . . and the enemy gets his hands in the mess.

Therefore, we get so deep into the emotions of things, we don’t recognize that the season is changing.

Churches run into this all the time. They get frustrated with a person in the fellowship, not realizing that it may be time to release that person into their next season. It may be into a new assignment, new church or new environment. Too many of our relationships suffer because we are holding people to an old season or to our personal expectations of them.

We hold onto a friendship that is moving on, because we don’t think about what they need. We are too focused on what we need.

Tension of Transition

Most relational conflicts arise when one or both parties do not realize that the season is changing. God is moving and change needs t0 be a part of it.

Most relationships are for a certain area that God wants to do a work in your life. Are you able to recognize this?

What happens when you need to grow into new environments, but the old relationships are wanted to hold you?

Why is this Important?

When you recognize that many relationships are for a season, it helps you to do some key things.

1. We focus on what we received in the relationship, not what we did not get or what was wrong. Our minds remember all the good times and celebrate the value the person was in our lives.

2. We focus on the good that person carries. Instead of being hung up on where the relationship is not, we place our attention on the strengths, values and goodness that they brought.

3. We focus on appreciation rather than unmet expectations. Appreciation rather than aggravation. Now our focus is on where we are grateful for the relationship, not focusing on what we are no longer getting.

4. Therefore, you create an association of them in your heart that is not toxic. You’re reference for that person is gratitude. You’ve now walked in a higher perspective.

I have had many relationships come and go. When I recognized this principle, I began to exercise thanksgiving for my past relationships rather than resentment. I began to thank God for who they were in my life and the value they added to me.


In order to do this, we have to:

1. Be aware of new seasons and new relationships that may be needed in the transition.

2. Learn to love people but also release them. The more we place a demand on people relationally, the more we set ourselves up for bitter roots.

3. Maintain graciousness regarding who the person is and they meant to you in your journey.