For the Days When You’re Back in the Pain

Dear reader,

In many ways, I am writing to myself.

These are the words I need. The words that bring some healing and permission to my heart. My prayer is that they do the same for you.

Today might not be the day that you need these words. That’s okay. I’d just encourage you to save this post for a day when your internal world feels stormy. Bookmark it, Pin it, email it to yourself, whatever your system is.

And if today is a day where your heart is frustrated and the progress is gone and your mind is stuck? Then you’re in the right place.

A little backstory: I’ve struggled with occasional mental health challenges since I was a child. Some of it was totally on a “normal” spectrum and other seasons landed me in doctor’s offices. Coming from a family that struggles with depression and anxiety; I know that good mental health needs to be a priority in my life because it’s easy to slip into familiar self-destructive patterns.

When my parents divorced begun last fall, I was in the middle of the busiest season I’d ever experienced. There was barely room in my life to function, let alone come to terms with my emotions. In the chaos, I threw myself into helping. I started a new relationship. I grew my business.

What I didn’t do was properly grieve.

As grief always does, it caught up with me.

The pent-up pain overflowed into my tendency towards depression and anxiety. Pair that with new birth control medication and I was having near panic attacks from going to Target. This fall and early winter was full of breakdowns and overwhelm.

Over the last two months, there has been a lot of healing.

Just as what leads to us being unhealthy can be many things, what leads to healing tends to be many factors. I got some inner healing through HeartSync, I went off social media for a month, I spent time writing, I read books, I rested more… all I know is that for weeks, it’s felt like I’m back to a healthy and whole self.

Then yesterday hit.

I was reading a magazine of inspiring home decor and anger started to boil up in my heart in a way I’m not quite used to. I’m angry for having too much clutter and not cleaning my stupid office. I’m angry that I don’t have even ONE nice furniture staple piece. I’m angry that we are still living like broke college kids. I’m angry that I’m not making more money. I’m angry that I don’t live up to my own expectations of what a wife is like.

I was just plain pissed. Not at Caleb or anyone else around me, but at myself and at life in general. This spiraled into a crappy day with breakdowns and moments of feeling like I was just spinning out of control.

Finally, after completely losing it, Caleb requested that I lay on my bed without my phone and talk to Jesus about it. He brought me tea and a candle. I was left with my thoughts and my books. Jesus met me in my mess, lifted my chin, and reminded me that he was never afraid to be with me and walk with me through the woods.

With this foundation, I write these words to you:

Healing in a process. And sometimes it feels freaking long and doesn’t follow your timeline. Sometimes you’ll find deeper layers of hurt, pain, and brokenness once you deal with the surface level junk. Those layers aren’t being revealed for your destruction but your wholeness.

“Pain’s main function is to alert your focus to the real problem, or wound, betrayal, or hurt.” – Christa Black Gifford

The pain isn’t the problem. It’s the symptom.

Pain is an invitation for healing. We don’t glorify or celebrate pain, but I think it’s important that we honor the place that it has in our lives. It’s a sign that points to a problem.

There are roots and triggers to our pain that must be addressed if we don’t want to keep returning to the same place of heartbreak. We don’t need to speed through this process. There’s no need to rush. This isn’t about a quick fix. This isn’t about getting you to a place so you can function and be a good little worker bee in society.

This is about your healing and your wholeness. This is about you thriving in any situation. This is about you living out the abundant life that Jesus already purchased for you as a free gift. This is about your victory and your destiny.

Do you really think that should be rushed?

I want quick results as much as the next person. I have a tendency to be a little impatient (cue Caleb laughing at the word little). But in this place, we need to lean in instead of running away.

Supernatural and sudden healing is great. Those moments are often part of the process. The problem is, if we learn to only rely on the big and the dramatic, we will miss the daily small steps that it takes to walk out our healing. Jesus loves to come in with a dramatic rescue, but Jesus also loves to walk with us.

Don’t forget the walking, dear one.

Don’t forget that in every great story about a quest, there’s a few unexpected sidesteps and obstacles along the way.

Don’t forget that the process is the promise.

That might be a fuzzy term for you so I’ll break it down: the process, the daily life and the “figuring it out” and becoming, that is actually where we learn and experience the promises of God. It’s a phrase I stole from Havilah Cunnington. It pushes me past my ambition that always wants to get somewhere and instead forces me to be somewhere.

To be in our pain is brave.

To sit in the silence and let the emotions be felt, that is brave.

To learn how to go to Jesus, to be still and let him fight for you, that is brave.

To pick yourself up when you’ve fallen apart, to consciously choose truth over lies even when it does not feel real, that is brave.

You are being brave every day that you decide you aren’t going to run from your pain but instead dive deep into the healing of your heart.

No, we aren’t staying here forever.

That’s the fear, isn’t it? That if we allow grief or pain into our heart that it’ll eat us alive and we’ll be stuck. That’s my fear.

In my life, I have this really destructive pattern that I’m trying to break. Step 1: I go way too hard, bite off more than I can chew, and am terribly overambitious with what I commit to. Step 2: I crash. Completely and entirely wind up a mess. My health, my relationships, my emotions – they burn out and I struggle to function. Step 3: I heal just enough to function again.  I deal with the surface level struggles and regain energy. Step 4: repeat.

When I saw this, I realized that this is not how I want to live my life. Nope.

In order for that cycle to change, this also must change:

  • I have to come to terms with the fact that my expectations for myself are unhealthy and too high. Yes, I am capable. No, my worth is not in my capabilities. I need to let go of the desire to be (and be seen as) high capacity and low maintenance.
  • I must embrace rest without guilt. Self-care isn’t just for when I’m really struggling. It’s part of life. Sabbath is a command meant for our good. Even God rested, why do I think I’m above God by claiming I don’t need rest?
  • I need to allow myself to have bad days. Bad days don’t have to mean a bad season or a bad life. Sometimes, a day just sucks and I can let it suck. Tomorrow is new. As L.M. Montgomery wrote in Anne of Green Gables, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

This is where I stand: realizing that yes, I have experienced major healing in my life over the last several months and yes, I still have more healing to come.

One of my dreams is to lead people through healing and into greater dreaming. The cry of my heart is the connection that there is between healing and dreaming. When we heal, we are freer to dream. When we dream, something in our spirit heals. Those making the biggest impacts in the world (that is sustainable) have also done some of the deepest healing in their own hearts. The two cannot be separated.

Days like yesterday remind me that I cannot lead others where I’m not willing to go myself.

So here I go, into the depths. Into my own heart with Jesus, mess and all.

How about you? Are you going to run away from the pain or are you going to face it head on?

  1. erickajen

    February 22nd, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    i feel ya. and when i say that, i actually know. i have gone through a few months near fall last year where i literally couldnt grocery shop, i couldnt go to target without having anxiety attacks, stomach aches, ringing ears, dizziness, that feeling of being unreal… it was daily and excruciating. so i really do feel ya.

    im on a rollercoaster up and down and up and down… winter never helps, ever. and to say that warmer, sunnier weather will make it all better is just as stressful in our industry, because once the warmth hits the woods… the job becomes impossible and all of a sudden we have no income. every year. for 2 months sometimes. from making it to nothing overnight… and thats even without my own hormone troubles and aspergers related faulty thinking. been working with a great counselor on the phone – if you’re interested in someone talking to you for counseling that will actually give you help from a Biblical perspective – not just a counseling one – check out abide counseling. jennifer is amaaaaazing, far above and beyond any counselor ive ever had. 🙂

    i dont know if you’ve looked into the other times when ive talked about progesterone, but seriously. you wont regret it. if its something your family struggles with, its likely progesterone is a genetic problem – i know my moms family is FULL of evidence that they all were dangerously progesterone deficient. thin hair, dry skin, osteoperosis, depression, anxiety, weight gain, fertility troubles, ovarian cysts… huge list….. so… thanks genes! :/ im literally supposed to start today. and i forgot. 😛 but ive got the bio identical stuff (from beeyoutiful.com – a great company if you’re interested in natural, health minded, safe stuff!! we get a LOT of tummy tuneup from them too 😛 )

    i learned something from dave ramsey years ago that not only blew my mind, but changed my perspective. i share it with you in hopes it will help.
    “kids today expect to have everything NOW that their parents took 20-30 years to earn.” (im paraphrasing somewhat because its been a while but i remember that.

    with increasing availability of credit/debt (even when it shouldnt be given…) kids your age/younger/older are able to gain things they actually cant afford. then they sell hours and hours of their lives to just the interest, not even the cost of the items, because of credit/debt.
    that gives us this picture of how we should have nice cars, pretty houses, magazine spread worthy rooms and furniture… all things that kids of your age NEVER had before because they couldnt afford it. if you looked at pictures of the crap furniture my parents had my entire life… you would probably die of shock. #1 because they only bought what they could afford with money they had and #2 because it just wasnt/isnt important. do you have furniture? you’re doing better than thousands of other kids your age group…. many of which probably have the newest phone, huge tvs/gaming systems/speaker systems… but no furniture. *eyeroll*

    newlyweds used to have just crap stuff. this is actually a good thing and ill tell you why…

    im 35. i have a couch that belongs to jeffs aunt (it took us weeks/months to febreeze the smoke smell out of it ugh), a chair that jeffs aunt reupholstered for us (the pins sometimes come out making it interesting with kids and it has a broken spring in the bottom thanks to the kids) two recliners that came out of my grandpas house years ago and one is so old my grandparents and i were both still living at home. so we’re talking earlier than 2001. our table is an old table we got at the huge thrift shop garage sale they used to do called the million dollar sale… and its much too big for our space. my dad made us a bench/toy box and its never been finished with stain or pain or anything, its just wood and an upholstered top to match the upholstered chair mentioned before. we dont have ONE “nice” furniture piece either. you know what would happen if we had one ?? we’d be mad all the time that the kids get it dirty or the cats leave hair on it.

    its like a new car. they look SOOOO GOOD on the lot. but drive it off and its no good anymore. it immediately loses 10,000 in value just by driving off the lot. and its “pristine” and people get stressed about wearing wet snowy boots or worse, spring muddy ones, into it because then its going to get dirty. the kids wouldnt be able to eat in the car EVER so we’d have to deal with screaming whining kids…. its just not worth it!! id say look forward to the perfection of home and furniture after you are grown and you have kids that are grown… but do you really want to be the grandmother who has rooms that her grandchildren arent allowed in for fear they would dirty something up? 😛

    i dont think you’re that kind of person, so im probably going WAAAAY overboard here. . . im just blabbing. trying to uplift you – you are doing the right things. you are living the right ways. will we get discontented? yes. because we’re here on earth in this sinful imperfect world, not in our paradise. save your desires and dreams for your home in heaven!! it will be beyond your dreams. if you “LOOOOVED” your earthly home, you would lose your desire for your heavenly home. if you literally didnt have furniture, then it would be a bit harder to enjoy your own home. we do have to have places to sit and places to eat and whatnot. but they dont have to be fancy and new or perfect to our imaginations. keep your mind on things of above. i hear we get to build our own gardens and everything… 😉 😛 it will be so much more rewarding than anything this world can fill our current homes with.

    just dont read the magazines. if they have become a tool for satan to drag you down, boil you in discontent and covetousness, dont buy them and dont read them. im sure you can conduct a business without being boiled in satans lies about how your house looks compared to someone who likely had a cleaning and organizing crew come through for the photo shoot – and even if they did it themselves, they traded hours of their time to doing that and either dont have a family to ruin it or forced their family through being unable to live in certain portions of their home while the cleaning/waiting for the shoot was happening….. just keep on what you’re doing – using your God given talents to fill your world with creativity and just *you guys* .. not the dreams from some magazine. its nice to dream and all…. but not when it destroys your heart.. :/ ill share a story more privately …

    when i started with jennifer (from above) she asked me to send her pictures of my house. now, i thought it was clutter central. she said “I love your house! It looks totally right—nicely organized but lived in, beautified by someone with an artistic touch.” (and i literally copy pasted that into this).

    i cant imagine your home looking anything BUT “beautified by someone with an artistic touch”. i know enough about you to know that you’re space must be touched with creativity and love!!

    having “clutter” isnt the same thing as being messy. having “clutter” is sometimes just because you LIVE THERE. not everything can be perfectly put away every moment of every day. your house is going to always look lived in. which means clutter. breathe. relax. 🙂 and now its not just you but someone else with you … so theres the expectation of what you did on your own .. . and now you have to share the space with someone else who may or may not have the same ideas or expectations of how to keep house… some stuff just has to be let go. or maybe some things need to not be let go of but brought up. meet in the middle somewhere. but for me, when i finally let go of the having to be perfect and everything in its place… i have had a lot less stress. not NONE but a lot less. AND – BONUS – when you let go of that NOW, you wont have to worry as much when you have kids. because kids are a moving mess. all day. every day. 😉

    anyway. i hope you understand what im saying (sometimes im never sure i used the right words…

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