As season change I think it’s characteristic of the heart to want to vent, offload, evaluate and refocus. And I think that’s why so many of us begin to reflect on unmet goals and disappointments toward the end of the year.
We joke about relationships we’re ending and challenges we’re taking on, but sometimes instead of reaching for the new, perhaps we should honestly evaluate the present.
During my own assessment of this year, I can confidently say that this has probably been the most confrontational year of my life.
I’ve come face to face with long-standing beliefs I’ve held that no longer prove true, mourned the loss of a lot of my ideals, had a complete personality overhaul, fearfully surrendered whole mentalities, and grappled for contentment when all I wanted to do was complain. This year split me open, but also mended what I didn’t even know was broken.
As I thought about the past 11 months, the Holy Spirit whispered to me about healing.
One of the things I took more seriously this year than I ever have before is healing – emotional healing, mental healing, spiritual healing, and even physical healing. I’ve prayerfully taken regular and detailed stock this year, and I’ve found a lot of bruising, some bleeding, scar tissue and even a few open wounds.
A thing I’ve noticed about living life with unaddressed pain is how frail it makes you. We seem to still be under the misconception that burying pain without addressing it is a show of strength, but it’s just not true.
Bruises and wounds are incredibly sensitive. Our lives eventually become like a patchwork quilt riddled with holes. The integrity and foundation of our emotional stability is threatened by the thought of potential pressure on our wounds. So we engage in a dance to protect the parts of us that hurt – we become guarded or dismissive, rude or abusive when people approach the places of pain.
Pain will become the dictator and lord of our lives if we don’t address it and begin to heal.
One thing I’ve learned is that healing makes you tougher. Not harsh, not rough, but tough. I’m still a sensitive person, but there is a difference between being sensitive and being injured. If you have a visceral reaction every time someone brings up a certain topic, or during specific experiences, you’ve probably experienced trauma there and some unaddressed pain still lingers. Think about the way it feels when someone presses a bruise – you have a sharp, immediate, emotional response because it hurts. It’s the same way with your life. When someone presses a bruised place in your heart, you have an intense emotional response because it hurts.
This year, Yahweh allowed me to go through experiences that pressed my bruises. And each time I yelped in response, He made me aware that that was another place of pain that needed to be addressed. I know first-hand that bruises on the heart become doors for all kinds of destructive things. Human beings have an incredible capacity to self-medicate, we will go to great lengths to feel less pain and seem okay when we’re not.
But in recent weeks I believe Yahweh has been encouraging me to look back over the year and take note of where I’ve healed. It’s time to take down the barricades and road blocks, take down the caution signs and grant access to the people who I’ve kept at bay because they unwittingly trampled on a painful place in my life.
Sometimes we tailor the access we grant people based on how they’ve made us feel in the past. But we never take the time to reevaluate the relationship after we’ve matured, healed, and adopted new perspectives. The holes in intimacy remain because we don’t let them in to that vacant place anymore. But one of the steps involved in a healing process is going back and granting access to the people who meant you well, but unintentionally did you harm. We don’t often hear people talk about how their pain twisted a relationship or negatively affected the way a person interacted with them. Pain is very vocal, and often gets its way through manipulative or selfish means. It’s important to let people in after you’ve purposefully kept them out. If you care about the health and strength of that relationship, you need to be intentional about trusting the people who you love.
It can be very scary to allow people to walk where you were once throbbing, but a true test of healing is when you encounter familiar pain and respond differently. If you’re truly healed, then you’ll find that what they say or do won’t hurt as much, or you may even find that it doesn’t hurt at all. It was your pain that was twisting the intent, polluting the message or corrupting the words of someone who really was trying to help you. Sometimes the things that hurt us weren’t the real source of the pain, but rather a small thing that was blown out of proportion because of the trauma we had already experienced. You have to reevaluate your responses from a healed place.
In the final days of 2018, reconsider the level of access you’re granting the people you love in areas of your life you’ve made major progress. Perhaps it’s time to let them in again, give intimacy another shot, grow in trust a little more. Love is always a risk, and so is trust. But the good thing about taking that risk as a healed person is that you know you’ll recover if it ends badly.
I want you to go into 2019 confident in your ability to recover. Don’t be afraid to grow in love, and trust, and friendship, and relationship. If you want to be loved more deeply, more perfectly by those you’re in relationship with, the cost if access. You must be willing to grant them access.
My prayer for you tonight is that you have the courage to try again, reach again, risk again, and go again. I pray that the memory of pain does not rob you of a more fruitful future. And I pray the hold that the fear of pain had on you is permanently broken as you move forward in your healing.
I’ve taken to praying for people much more diligently than I ever have. SO if you have a prayer request, feel free to leave it in the comments or shoot me an e-mail. I’d be honored to pray for you.
I’ll see you in 2019!