My last post was about Discovery: Spiritual Excavation. I wrote about how Discovery is one of my values and why it is important to me. Discovery is a tool that Jesus has given to me to help dig me way out of the pits of life and reveal the steps up and out so I can move forward. Let’s get a little more practical with some tangible tips on what to do when you have fallen into a pit of life.
How many of you have ever been through painful situations where misunderstanding, assumption, and even flat-out lies have caused unpleasant, painful, hurtful situations in your life? All of us have been in those types of situations. We can not get out of it. Jesus plain out told us in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I have read this verse, I know trouble will come and yet I still would like to think that I can live in that perfect make-believe world where I can be smart enough and strategic enough to have made the safest decisions for my life so that I never get hurt.
Yes, I can be discerning, however, dealing with people is never safe. It’s a faith walk.
It’s not faith in people, it is faith in God who gave me a heart to love people when it’s messy and to forgive them when they mess up. That’s courage. That’s grace. That’s also painful.
Here’s what I am getting at, I can not love people in the mess and forgive them when they mess up if I do not use my discovery tool to enter into the pain and unpleasantness of situations and process through them. When my heart starts racing, my palms and pits get sweaty, when my thoughts are spinning, when my gut gets punched I have to know what to do with it. I have to look into it. I cant ignore it.
I don’t like to be uncomfortable but I can’t afford to skip the process. I have lived enough of my life shutting it down, turning it off or ignoring the issues. It stunted my growth every time and often left me rounding the mountain of the same issue again later.
“Pain demands to be felt or it will demand you feel nothing at all.”
Ann Voskamp -The Broken Way
Suffering. Pain. Hurt. Without these, the walk of Christ to the cross wouldn’t have happened. 1 Peter 2:23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. Numbing my suffering, pain, and hurt is the most unhealthy thing for my soul and it certainly isn’t Christlike. Why? Because what is alive in me will come out sideways if I bury it. It doesn’t die, it zombifies! And guess what rotting flesh isn’t pleasant, it stinks just like the attitudes that come out of me when I do not deal with it, with every achy, heartwrenching, broken bit of it.
What is alive in me will come out sideways if I bury it. It doesn’t die, it zombifies!
Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
Resurrection only comes through death then burial, not through burying things alive. The reason I have found that I have chosen to bury something alive is that I have been hurt. I don’t like how I feel. I am afraid of what may happen. I fear vulnerability. Jesus told us how to follow after Him and it was to deny myself and take up his cross. Sounds painful to me. So am I willing to walk in his footsteps?
3 ways I process through pain:
- Recognize what is happening: What is the story that I am spinning in my mind? I tell my kids “you cant think when you’re angry!” I also believe that you cant think when you are in the grip of fear. So I write! I don’t try to make it sound nice. I just write it. I write fast and furious with every raw emotion and I make sure I exhaust every frustrated pathway of thought. I make myself be totally real. BI write down my side of the facts, the hurt, the anger, the frustration, the defense that I feel I deserve and the fears that surround all that.When I do this I “out” whats going on in my heart and once that’s done then my brain can turn back on and I can look at it objectively rather than all emotionally charged. At the end, I answer 4 questions: 1. What is the fear? 2. What is the doubt? 3. What is the worry? 4. What is the damage? This helps me to bottom line my emotions into 4 main points.
- Take it all to the cross: I pray and take every bit of what I just wrote to my Papa God. Just like when Jesus on the cross said “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” This is the age-old question of every heart. Why do bad things happen? If God is good why do we suffer? If He loves us, why is this happening? Jesus felt every suffering we ever would. And here the thing: Because of sin, the world was broken when Jesus got here. He didn’t come to fix the world, He came to fix hearts and through those hearts fix the world! So when Papa asks me to give up my rights to it. To let Him be my defender. To let Him have my heart. To trust Him through it all. To forgive the one who hurt me. I cry through the pain and in an act of submission and obedience – I give it up! This is to deny myself and when I do this I am walking out one of my life verses Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. The way of the cross it the only way through. Easy-NO! Worth it! Yes, every time! While this part totally sucks, it’s not the end. When dealing with people in the uncomfortable situations I don’t seem to mind naming the pain, I don’t even mind giving up my pain into God’s hand but the next part it is a make it or break it step for me.
- Out it all: Drag the fear kicking and screaming into the light because it can not live in the light. I have to go talk to the one who hurt me. If I truly made it through step 2 then I will be able to come to the person in love, in grace, with humility and unity in mind and I remind myself that I have to listen too, that they have been through something here as well. It’s not just one-sided and I am not a victim. I am a victorious one! If I didn’t really do step 1 or 2 then most likely I will numb out, ignore the issue, not find reconciliation and I may even just walk away from the people involved. And all that is my choice. Through or not.
I won’t pretend that my 1,2,3 will fix your situation or that I understand what you are going through. But this is my process for what I have been through and how I find level ground again after my heart has been upside down or cut in two. I also know that when I fight these steps, I suffer longer than I need too. Just like anything, the more you practice using your tools the better you get at using them.
Thanks for listening,