When It Hurts to Heal
Have you ever had a broken heart? If so, then you know it is a painful experience. Pain is not enjoyable to experience, whether it’s physical or emotional. It's possible that your heart was shattered through a broken romantic relationship, through the death of a loved one or friend, or through a long-standing trial or struggle, but regardless of how, we’ve all probably experienced one in our lifetime. I know I have.
For me, nothing came as easy as instant wholeness. That’s what I desperately wanted, and fast, but healing from heartache is never so easily achieved. Why? Because we have to get rid of all those defense mechanisms first that prevent us from dealing with the pain. The pain hurts and is no fun to feel.
Many folks have had a broken bone, needed a surgery of some kind, or have been hospitalized for a short or long time. During this time of healing, the wound heals and as the broken bone repairs itself, pain is felt. Healing hurts. As a splinter heals and pushes itself out of your skin, pain occurs. Sometimes terrible pain.
It’s the same with emotional pain. When a deep wound punctures our very soul and psyche, we utilize whatever coping strategies we have at our disposal to heal and move forward. Sometimes these strategies are unhealthy, and they only mask the brokenness and pain.
Unhealthy Coping Strategies
· Alcohol and Drugs
· Excessive Spending or eating
· Drowning ourselves in busyness and work
· Fight/Flight/Freeze, or shutting down
· Social Isolation and withdrawal from friends and family or even ourselves
You get the point. For everyone this can look different.
The hurt is still there buried under all those maladaptive coping strategies we use, and true healing has not begun. What would it look like if we refused to get a broken bone properly set or ignored severe inflammation or an infection? Things would only get worse. Proper healing would not happen.
It’s that way with emotional wounds. We cannot ignore or bury our past nor the pain that goes along with it. Maladaptive coping strategies, such as ignoring the wound and burying the ache deep inside us is detrimental to our mental health. Disguising the messiness of our lives and concealing the pain from others will only fester the wound.
Why do we hide our pain from others? Why do we hide it from ourselves?
· Fear (What is your fear?)
· Feelings that no one will accept us as we are
· Thinking that no one else has problems like ours (Never true)
· We want to personify perfection (Why? Something important to ask yourself This reveal a
negative core belief), as though making others see us as flawless could ever be realistic. This
falsehood only causes others to feel inferior, small and alone.
These are questions we have to ask ourselves if we want wholeness.
It hurts to heal, and masking the pain only buys us valuable time we cannot afford to waste.
If we don’t deal with the original heartache, loss, or grief in a nurturing and healthy manner, we will have to go back through the darkness to deal and heal. This is very painful. Growth always is.
No Pain, No Gain
You’ve heard that before. But why does it feel better when we overcome our struggles and lay them to rest. Maybe because we are strengthened in knowing we were able to persevere and succeed. We did it. We survived. Overcoming struggles builds self-confidence and creates strength.
Why endure the pain of healing?
Because it brings us to wholeness. It repairs the wound and the brokenness and helps us fly again with joy and freedom. Unbinding us to our pain and brokenness, which we react out of and this destroys relationships.
Think of how different the salvation message would have been if Christ had not suffered and died for a broken world. He could have done things quite different; the easy way, but He chose to live our struggle and walk in humility. Our heart beckons us to look back and deal with the ache, forgive others, then forgive ourselves. Truly letting go of what is behind,
How can we look back and survive it?
Looking back is not always easy and something we don’t have to do alone.
· Reach out to a true friend or therapist to lean on during this time of growth
· Be kind to yourself through diet, exercise, and journaling
· Learn to forgive yourself as Christ has forgiven you
· Allow yourself to be vulnerable (accept that you are not perfect, and neither are others)
Growth can be scary and painful, but if we are paired up with a trusted helper, we can walk back through the struggle and ache in safety without being traumatized all over again.
Remaining present in this moment as you look back into the past is key to your wholeness.
Have you ever tried to run away from your pain only to have it surface again and again? I’d love to hear the steps you are taking to heal the painful past.
I absolutely love the song by Hillsong. “Even When it Hurts” They describe a broken heart. How could they even know? This ache is universal, and we all share this pain together.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18) NIV.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 (NIV)
Let yourself heal through the hurt so you can live the life you were destined to live!