“Turn and look at your pain.”
I looked back at her with frustration. I don’t want the pain.
“You have to acknowledge your pain. Sit in it for a while. Experience the pain. Before you can truly move forward in healing,” she said.
If you’re like me, as soon as negative emotions stir and surface we immediately begin searching for the way out. How can I fix it? What can I do to minimize the impact this has on me and others? What can I say or believe to make myself feel better? Where can I turn to cope, distract or avoid what’s in front of me?
Sitting in my pain is about the last thing I want to do.
I sat across the room from my patient and gracious therapist for weeks in a row as we had the same conversation.
“Rachel, turn and look at your pain.”
At the time I was frustrated. I was there for answers, solutions, progress. I was desperate for help and felt like I was getting nowhere.
The truth is, I had no idea how to sit in what was painful for me. I had spent my whole life implementing various techniques to mitigate what hurt. I didn’t want the things that hurt me to be my reality, and I tried my darndest to control circumstances and emotions so that it wouldn’t be.
But my therapist was right. It wasn’t until I could trust God to give me the discipline, courage and strength to sit in the things that hurt that I found the release that allowed Him to heal it.
What about you?
There may be wounds that you’ve incurred, hurts you’ve carried, brokenness you’ve experienced. It may be that they continue to resurface in various mediums and applications throughout contexts, relationships, seasons and years.
It may be that you have unreconciled pain that you have pushed through long enough.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is a God who heals.
So, what can you do?
Looking at Pain
The first stage of the grief cycle is denial. I think many of us find ourselves here when dealing with unresolved emotional pain. The first step is to identify the core of your pain. Maybe seek counsel from a therapist, mentor or friend who is comfortable wading into the waters of hurt with you. Work to identify your pain so that you know what you’re looking at.
It’s likely that symptoms of your hurt have arisen over the years. These are the different contexts and relationships that you’ve seen as a pattern over time. However, the underlying pain is what you’re looking for. The root of each of those symptoms.
Acknowledge and grieve that this is your reality. That there is a possibility that neither you nor anyone else this side of heaven can make it not so. Or if they can, they might not choose to. This is your reality, and the only way out is through.
It’s so difficult to acknowledge pain and not search for solutions. I fought this part of my own journey hard. However, I urge you to let yourself sit. What does it look like to feel your pain? It’s okay to hurt. Allow yourself to walk through the emotions that arise rather than avoiding, diminishing, or stuffing them down. Your feelings are valid, and they won’t stand for a lack of attention.
There is a period of sitting that is necessary and good. There is also a point at which being buried in emotions is not healthy for you or those around you. This may seem contradictory to the rest of our conversation here- but it is through first identifying, accepting and sitting that space is created for the Lord to work toward healing. We are not called to look at our pain only to be left in it. Here you can begin to wrestle instead of sit.
Ask the Lord all your hard questions. We see throughout the Psalms that the Lord can handle our desperate or angry cries. Bring your doubts, frustrations, confusion, disappointment, wondering, fear and hurt before Him. This is a work of reconciliation. Reconciliation of what we long for, our reality and what God promises. In the wrestling, we can reconcile who God is with the brokenness we’ve experienced in order to find hope in an eternity outside of our circumstances.
In my experience, walking through this process leads to a peace that only the Lord can provide. My prayer for you, our reader, is that you will experience intimacy with the Lord that breeds trust. Trusting the Lord means that you don’t have to hold things so tightly anymore. You can have freedom to release your life into His hands. He is a good God. He will hold you, even in your pain. In this release, the Lord is faithful to do work in our hearts that we cannot do for ourselves.
Healing for Your Hurt
The truth is that for most of us not looking at our pain only leads to prolonged suffering. We have to do the work here of facing what hurts for it to not to continue to manifest itself in different contexts and relationships across our lifetime. Walking through pain healthily allows true healing.
He can and will restore and heal what may feel irreparable to you. Scripture says that the Lord promises to “restore the years that the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25).
He will be faithful to you, my hurting friend. Our lives may not look like what we always pictured- but the character of God is true. He is healer, and in your journey of walking through pain He will not leave you as you are. Take heart, and have hope.
If you are walking through pain or see pattern of hurt, we’d love to walk the road with you. Call or email us for help along the way.
This is great, Rachel!!