I have always been reluctant to share personal struggles. I remember a time when I decided to open up to a church member, who had become a friend. She sensed something was bothering me and encouraged me to talk about it. I shared with her that I had been feeling very down and was struggling in my relationship with God. I’ll never forget her reaction. She was horrified. In her mind, the fact that I was a pastor was supposed to mean that I no longer struggled with life…much less God. I was speechless. She said it made her feel totally insecure to think that the people she counted on for leadership and guidance didn’t have it all together. I tried to tell her that pastors were just like everyone else with all the requisite dramas and heartaches that go with being human. She literally said, “Oh my God! If the pastors start falling apart, who’s going to take care of the rest of us???” I felt embarrassed and full of regret. Needless to say, I kept my struggles private after that.
Now, I assure you I know the notion is silly. Of course, EVERYONE alive struggles with life from time to time. This is what it means to be part of humanity. God Himself struggled with life while He walked the planet. Jesus said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Mark 14:34)
Life is hard for all of us. ALL of us! Terrible things happen to people in this crazy world. Either you or someone close to you has endured tremendous suffering. Sickness, accidents, job loss, the death of a loved one, victimization of some kind… I’m sorry to say that no one gets through this life unscathed. If nothing has happened to you yet, Praise God...but...it's coming someday.
As wonderful as my life is today, I still bear the wounds and scars of a very difficult childhood. I grew up amid chaos, rejection, abuse and fear, to name just a few. I couldn’t wait to put childhood behind me and begin leading my own life.I was so eager I left home when I was just 16.
I married young and determined to leave the past behind. I set my sights on building a wonderful life with my husband and our future children. I didn’t have any real role models so I took my cues from books, parenting magazines and everything I could remember from watching The Brady Bunch.
I couldn’t have imagined how many times or how many ways the wounds from my childhood would interfere with my life as an adult. I created a multitude of adaptations to compensate for the wounds and keep the pain hidden. No one who knew me would have guessed anything bad had ever happened to me. That ...was the goal.
Whenever the pain from my past surfaced I told myself to snap out of it. I couldn't change the past, I reasoned, so I just needed to get over it.
As you can imagine, that didn’t always work.
At one point, I did seek counseling and that helped a lot. It wasn’t Christian counseling though, I didn’t want a Christian counselor. I thought I would feel even worse about myself if all the terrible things that happened in my life were on display in front of a Christian. That’s really sad, but it’s true.
Through counseling I learned to reframe certain events and bring some wisdom to bear. It put a lot of things in perspective and that made me feel stronger. But I can’t say I was healed.
If we were one dimensional creatures talk therapy would be enough. But we aren’t one dimensional, we are four; Mind, Body, Soul and Spirit.
Our thoughts, feelings and emotions are infinitely complicated. How they intersect with our spirituality is nearly incomprehensible. Walking through them is like a house of mirrors. It simply can’t be properly navigated without the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit.
No matter how hard we try to put the past behind us, the depth and complexity of our wounds damage our connection to God. Each unhealed wound acts as a kink or a break in our relationship with Him.
This is precisely what the enemy is after.
My love for God couldn’t be any bigger and, until recently, I thought that was best measure of my relationship with Him.
I never blamed God for the things that happened to me. However, I did think the fact that they happened said something about how He felt about me.
I have lived with that belief for decades! I'd even gotten comfortable with it.Blech...I hate admitting that.
One might see that as a kink in my relationship with God. Or worse; A lie from the pit of hell? One I had based my entire life on.
This wasn't something I needed to deal with. This is something that needs to be healed.
Only Jesus can do that.
So here I am in the middle of my life (assuming I get to live to be 110) looking back at the terrible things that happened when I was a child. This time with a Christian counselor. Man, what a difference!
There is a part of me that feels silly to be weeping over such old wounds; yet the tears flow without restraint. Not only because of what happened but because of what it cost me. Because of how it changed the face of the girl I saw in the mirror. Because of what it made me believe about God’s love for me.
Yet, I am more full of hope today than I’ve ever been before in my life.
I know something big is about to change for me.
I’m about to experience a kind of freedom I never knew was possible …for me.
On the other side of this journey is the relationship I long for but never believed I deserved. I wish I could get there a little faster…and maybe without having to turn over every stone along the way to study the squiggly things that live underneath…and maybe without so many tears.
But I AM on the precipice of being healed and I can’t tell you how excited I am about that!
What about you? What old wounds are you living with? How are they impacting your life? How are they impacting your relationship with God?
Wouldn't you rather be healed too? Let me know in the comments below. I would love to pray for you!
Yes. Healing is much better than dealing.
In His love and service,