Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
There is a lot of brokenness in this world. Sometimes, I feel as though we’re all holding it together with a bit of tape and lots of string. If the wind were to blow hard enough, we would come apart. And sometimes, we do. Sometimes those winds cause crashing waves that permanently alter the way we experience this life. Those situations change us; it would be impossible for them not to. But change doesn’t always mean it’s for the better.
We’ve all seen or experienced how change can drive us to destruction. It can start small, as the waves of bitterness, anger, and envy rise in our hearts. Over time, these waves cause havoc wherever they go, although for each of us, they may manifest differently. For some, they desperately hold onto the past, wishing “what was” could be “what is”. But life has shifted. We cannot go backwards. For others, we are wishing away the present, hoping the future is better. But the present is all we have. Life gives us no guarantees. And so the choice remains ours to make as we face those destructive waves. We can choose to take on our problems or cast them aside. We can cope or we can heal. We can internalize or we can be brave enough to seek resolution.
Taking the First Step
The first step in resolution is to admit that there is a problem. As I work on my own healing, I’ve come to recognize the difficulty in this acknowledgement. It’s not that we don’t know trauma, it’s just that for some of us, we’ve become accustomed to it. Our suitcases fill up with the burdens we carry. Our bookbags store the pieces of us that haven’t fully healed. We get used to paying for oversized bags as we take this excess with us. We adjust to the weight we have to carry, even when others don’t. And unfortunately, no matter how much of an impact this luggage has on our lives, we refuse to let it go. Our ego won’t allow us to see that there is a problem. Our pride blocks us from assessing the true cost of our choices.
The Spiritual Need to Heal
Yet we are still accountable for our healing, or lack thereof. It takes self-awareness to recognize that there is a problem, but self-awareness does not come without vulnerability. Regrettably, however, vulnerability isn’t what we’re preaching from the pulpits. We can talk about doctrines, or give motivational messages, but when is the last time you’ve had a Bible study that delved into the importance of self-care and self-love?
It may seem as though psychology and spirituality are in conflict because you don’t find attachment styles outlined in the Bible. There isn’t a list of personality disorders either. Yet the output of not healing, of casting aside the impact that our experiences have had on us, puts us in direct conflict with the fruit of the spirit.
How so? Well, we cannot fully exhibit self-control when we are struggling with unregulated emotions. Our kindness is hindered when we secretly carry envy. If we cope to hide the pain, we do not fully experience self-love and therefore we cannot fully love one another. When we choose solutions rooted in avoidance, we gain short-term comfort, but we aren’t actually progressing. In fact, we might be going backwards.
A moment of personal reflection
Take a moment to reflect upon the last time you were completely honest with God. When you told Him that you were scared. Or that you were angry with Him over how life has worked out. When is the last time you’ve told yourself that there are parts of you that you don’t like? And that maybe change is necessary, but you’re unsure of how to get there. This type of dialogue may feel awkward, but vulnerability is incredibly freeing.
When we take the first steps towards vulnerability, we break open the parts of us that we’ve worked so hard to hide. This allows us to experience the type of peace that only comes through honesty. From there, we can build a foundation for acceptance and then growth. Without it, we won’t move forward in the manner that God intended for us to live. Instead, we will carry the pain, and pass it along to others. Unresolved trauma begets more trauma; it just manifests itself in new ways.
The Benefit of Acceptance
If we are willing to acknowledge that we’re exhibiting hurtful behaviors, then we start to tap into the power of acceptance. We accept that we have baggage, and that it’s time to let some of the luggage go. We embrace healing as we signify that we no longer want to be slaves to our own pain and trauma. It takes time to work through our behaviors that need to change, but with the gift of patience, we work towards our goals – knowing the results are well worth the effort.
It’s important as well, to embrace the differences in each of our journeys. God works with us at different paces and through various circumstances. If we offer compassion and grace to ourselves as we work to move forward, we will be able to offer the same to others. As much as we need compassion and honesty on this journey, a lack of it can come from a place of fear. So let’s make sure we’re offering the same supportive environment that we seek from others, when we have the capacity to do so.
So When Do We Start?
To some, the answer may seem obvious – we start our healing process now. But for others, they are in the midst of storms, and are waiting for the seas to be a bit calmer. I caution, however, this approach. If we wait for a situation to be completely over before we begin healing, then we run the risk that we are unnecessarily increasing the damage being done to us. I understand, nevertheless, that it is a lot to ask… that we embrace healing while still in the process of overcoming, but consider this… If we allow the parts of us that experience trauma to have the loudest voice, then we will continue to operate from a place of fear and pain.
Instead, as much as possible, let’s allow the Spirit of God to be the place from which we operate. In that space, the impossible becomes possible. We put on the spirit of courage as we face the parts of us that are still hurting, still frustrated, and still overwhelmed. We correct the behaviors inside of us that inflict undue hurt and pain on others. With God’s wisdom and discernment guiding our journeys, we seek the help needed to overcome,. There is no better time than the present to spark change because the present is all we have. And if I could give one piece of advice to my younger self, it would be to value the healing. It is literally the best choice we can make to live a fulfilled life in Christ. God Bless. #lovesanaction
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