So I have been talking to those I reach out to (mentor, disciple, love - whatever it's called) a lot about vulnerability and being real. About not pretending to have it all together. About being honest about weaknesses, sin, struggles.
Yes, I'm doing better about getting real, but I still have a long way to go.
Part of the problem with helping others is that you often have to reveal a little something about your own past, your own problems, your own struggles. The purpose for this post is not for me to obtain sympathy. But, in order for this post to help others, it may just have to involve me getting a tad real. Just love me anyway.
This post is for the broken among us.
A few months ago, I had my heart completely broken.
You'd think I'd be over it, right? You'd think that little things wouldn't keep coming up to remind me of how badly I was hurt - and still hurt. You'd think that a few months would be enough time to "move on." You'd think that there still wouldn't be that knife in my chest - a knife that randomly twists or stabs anytime it's randomly reminded of circumstances that broke me.
Not in this case.
I assume I'm not alone. Judging by the people the Lord has allowed me to reach out to lately, I'd say that quite a few people are going through tough times. No, I am not alone. And neither are you.
The problem is finding a balance of seeking healing without pushing ourselves too heavily to heal quickly and just get over it.
Let's be honest. There are some things you just can't "get over." Memories are too deeply etched, pain is too deep, wounds are too raw to just be brushed aside. We can't expect to heal quickly. Not after months or even years of pain - in whatever form it came: misunderstandings, loss, abuse, estranged relationships, death, physical ailments, gossip, or separations.
We can't expect to heal from weeks, months, even years of brokenness in a day.
But how do we heal without letting brokenness define us?
Some people are really good about being honest, having their cry, talking their problems through, etc. If you are one of those people, keep it up. You'll heal faster than those of us who keep everything bottled up inside.
Like, em, me.
I'm that person who smiles and goes through her day with as much outer confidence as she can muster - and is inside scared, insecure, and really, really needing to talk to someone. I'm the person who acts like everything is fine when I'm in public, then goes home and cries alone and has nightmares.
Tell me I'm not alone.
From what I know of a lot of my friends, you are right there with me. Acting confident when you're broken. Smiling when you're crying inside. That's all great for being the self-possessed, non emotional, put together man or woman a lot of us want to be. But I'm pretty sure it's not the best for actually healing after a hard time.
So here is what the Lord has been showing me about being real. About healing. About leaning on Him. Maybe it will help you. (And please be sure to share what the Lord has shown YOU in the comments. It may help someone.)
- Remind yourself that you are a child of the King. Satan wants nothing better than to destroy our self-image. He wants us to see ourselves as worthless, broken, helpless, and meaningless. And he likes to get other people to see us that way too, which doesn't help. I have to keep reminding myself that it doesn't matter how other people see me. Being hurt has made me very insecure lately, particularly about how other people view me. But, honestly, it doesn't matter what people think. If I am striving to be filled with the Holy Spirit and letting Jesus lead in my life, it shouldn't matter. We have to do our best and leave the rest up to God. We have to recognize that we are precious, beloved, and cherished in His heart and eyes.
- Have a set time to deal with your pain. I have a literal pouring-out time with God. Once a day, I pour out absolutely everything about how I am hurting, how circumstances have been so unfair, how sometimes I can't feel that He even cares (even though the logical part of my brain knows that He does.) And then I move on with my day (okay, most of the time.) Pain and broken-heartedness cannot control our entire day. Sometimes it does, but, for the most part, we need to be really conscious to go on with our day and not simmer in our emotions. If we have a conscious, set-apart time where we try to deal with how we are feeling, we are more likely to have a good rest of the day. It enables us to not just brush aside our pain, but to deal with it and then keep moving.
- Focus on others. There's a whole lot of truth here. Focusing on blessing others is therapeutic. Yes, it's a biblical command too, but it really does help with brokenness. Just in general, I love to give gifts and write notes. I have found that stepping up my giving really helps with healing. Our actions often precede our emotions. Choosing to give a gift, write an encouraging note, volunteer some time to help someone, etc. is the first part of choosing joy. The action comes first, the emotion second.
- Recognize that even warriors need to rest. I love the song "The Warrior Is a Child" by Twila Paris. Even strong people who are used to always being there for others and always being the courageous one need to rest. Deep inside our armor, we're just children - fragile and needing to be loved and comforted. There is no shame in taking the time to heal, to mend, to trust, to love again.
- Choose to trust/love. If your pain happened to be betrayal, trusting people again can be very, very hard. If your pain happened to be loss (death or otherwise), loving people can be very, very hard. In either circumstance, you knowingly open yourself up to pain and suffering all over again. It's scary, it's hard, and it takes courage, but choose to trust and love people. It's worth it. Life is too short to be paranoid about who is going to love you back. No, not everyone deserves or should have a front-seat in your life. Discernment about relationships is vital. But we can all love without throwing wisdom out the window.
- Remember that God does see and He is there. I've lost count of the times I've asked God if He really was watching, if He really did see what was happening, if He really did care about my pain. Presumptuous, I know. But, in the heat of heartache, it's hard to really feel that God is with us. Quite simply, we can't rest on our emotions. We have to choose to believe that His Word is true and that His promises are true. He sees everything. He feels our pain. He has been there - He was rejected, suffered loss, abandoned, betrayed, and hurt too. And He promised never to leave us.
Maybe some of this will help someone. I hope so. I truly hope so. If nothing else, just know that you are not alone if you are broken. You are not alone if you are hurting. God is there. And so are others.
What advice do you have for someone going through a hard time? How have you survived brokenness in your life?