All of us carry wounds and we each have our own ways of dealing with them. Some are not easy to brush away. These often lie in our subconscious until someone says or does something that exposes them again. We may try to keep going while our emotion pain tank is getting too full. It may surprise us when it unclogs and overflows and we become over-sensitive or depressed. A sure sign that we are carrying too much is when we just can’t receive another’s pain.
We need to find ways to clean out what’s stored in our pain tanks. We know that not all pain we receive impacts us to the same degree. We take hurt differently depending on whether it is from someone we love or someone we hardly know. We feel offence more deeply if it’s an attack on our person or if we are let down by someone close to us. Instead of addressing it we may try to cope by avoiding that individual, or may choose to pull back and not risk relating again. We may move home, job, change friends or chose sides against the offender.
We all have seen how harbouring offence can be a way to give us identity and meaning. We hear of long-standing vendettas that continue through generations, causing bitterness and cruelty to both sides that refuse to forgive. Here old wounds are continually re-opened, so they never heal.
It does not help to pretend offence didn’t happen and that it doesn’t hurt. Pain does not disappear by trying to drown out our experiences. We may well have to give ourselves time to grieve our real losses and hurts. We are not however alone in this process. Jesus knew we would have trouble in this world. He uses our pain to draw our attention to our wounds that He has carried on the cross, and is wanting to heal. He so graciously wants to partner with us to transform our pain and to then to make it into a gift that can help others find healing too.
The importance of a well-matched pair
I (Elizabeth) love the stories of my great grandfather who ran a wagon-making business in Wagenmakersvallei (now Wellington, W Cape). It was from this village that people continued by wagon over the mountains into the interior. Together with the high quality of the carriages, he was also strict with the pairing of his horses to pull the wagons. He was meticulous at matching the strength and personality of each pair. For once, a mis-matched pair had pulled unevenly, overturning the carriage, causing my great-grandmother to miscarry.
Integrating the spiritual and physical realities
Our two realities, the seen and unseen, are like these horses. They are meant to pull together seamlessly, but all too often don’t. We over-drive our physical reality and leave undeveloped and neglected our spiritual one. Instead of being in sync, this disconnection causes us to ‘pull’ in unhelpful directions. We see this when we focus mainly on succeeding in our work arena to the detriment of our family’s well-being, causing grave harm. Or, when we say we believe that relationships are important yet in actuality have them last on our ‘to do’ list.
Slowing down so we can hear our inner drivers
Jesus wants us to find increasing cohesion and integration. If we slow down and stop the gallop of our known world, and create spaces where we are really still with God, we can nurture sensitivity to that unseen and often neglected reality inside us. Within, we find emotions that are taking us along a particular path. We have made assumptions about life that drive those emotions and carry unquestioned beliefs that we hold fast to.
Finding healing in the light of God’s love
If we, with Jesus, can gently see where our emotions lead us, we will come to understand better what causes us to choose the behaviour that we do. We can help the healing of those parts of ourselves as we own and acknowledge them in the light of God’s love. We will find joy as we sense ourselves coming to journey through life in a more integrated, connected way – and like with those horses, enjoy the ride so much more!
There are parts of ourselves we like, and parts of ourselves we avoid
All of us are at home with the parts of ourselves that we like. These we elevate and present to the world. Yet this is not all of who we are. We often don’t have a good relationship with the parts that ‘don’t work’, and have separated some places into ‘No-Go’ zones. So, in order to cope with our lives, we don’t embrace some of our painful emotions that are not working so well in us – like our fear, remorse, guilt. We find it hard to appreciate those unlovely places. We might fill our empty spaces with noise and obligations so that these emotions get quietened or at least pushed down again. For we do not feel comfortable with our powerless feelings.
Continue reading Accepting parts of ourselves that ‘don’t work’ can enable us to have better relationships
Sometimes our hardest task is to release those who have hurt us. Yet, it is one of the most profound aspects of being a life giver. We may have said the words, “I forgive you.”, but still feel resentment in our hearts. Events can have an immense afterlife and we can can hold onto them in order to hurt back in some way later.
Continue reading Finding freedom through forgiveness
Just as we have a body, we have an inner self. There are similarities between our physical and our unseen parts. If we reflect on our body and how we care for it, we can learn a lot about about how to tend to our inner ‘body’. Just as we eat well and exercise to keep healthy, so too we nurture and love our inner self.
Continue reading “Where does it hurt?” Healing our wounds in order to live more fully
Can we, with God, learn to love the less-than-lovely parts?
As we come to see ourselves more and more clearly, we choose either to accept or reject that self. The big question is whether we are able to find increasing acceptance for what might not be acceptable in our society’s eyes. Since few of us experienced truly unconditional love, many don’t know what this actually looks like. We have been taught to turn away from ourselves or others when the less-than-attractive becomes visible. We’ve also been habituated into always trying to show what is nice about ourselves to others and of not feeling at all comfortable with their seeing our less-than-lovely parts. Thus, we have imprisoned ourselves and others in this well-known societal game as we continually judge those negative parts and inwardly criticise our ambivalence. Continue reading Unconditional Acceptance
Much of our life movement has been around avoiding pain. To engage with conflict in a life-giving way we need to start working from a place of love.
For most of us conflict is just associated with pain. To cope, we’ve learnt to separate what we like and what we reject both in ourselves and in others. In this way we try to avoid fighting, to cover the tensions we feel or to defend ourselves against a perceived threat. We end up thinking some people are ‘wonderful’ while others we put down as ‘awful’. This is a common pattern in conflict, but is not a life-giving one.
Conflict will always be part of our human condition. So how can we find transformative, life-giving ways with it? Continue reading Finding Healing on the Path of Pain
From childhood we’ve all sensed imbalances of power. In most relationships, though often unspoken, we feel we are being continually measured, pegged at different levels. We all know who’s stronger than us – whether verbally, emotionally or physically – and we know who can punish or frighten us. We sense where we are placed in our social circles, whether at the centre as the ‘queen bee’, or further out towards the fringe.
Each of our early experiences are peopled with memories which touched us, both the good and the painful. The patterns we each developed to flourish and to survive then are the same as those we still use today. That particular person or event from our past is long gone, but our learnt patterns of relating remain. We continue to see ourselves and others (even God) through this lens.
Continue reading Childhood Hurts – Blockage Or Bridge?
Learning to filter the information we receive
We are living in a world where we’re being flooded by information. To avoid being washed away by it we need to learn how to sift and process it. Since the information we receive into ourselves forms and shapes our identity, it’s very important to discern if what we are being given is untrue or partial truth.
This is especially important in how we are seen for if that information is incorrect it can have profoundly negative affects on us. Continue reading Healing Misinformation Wounds
Shame is a punch to stomach; it blinds us to the truth, it seeks to isolate us. As we walk with God and others who love us, we receive His healing.
It is our ongoing life work to become aware of the different beliefs we carry in each part of ourselves – in our mind, body, heart, soul and spirit – because it is from out of our beliefs that our behaviour comes.
Shame, something we are all so familiar with, distorts what we believe to be the truth about ourselves. As a very powerful social manipulator, it is often used to get people to comply, to put others in their place and to adjust their behaviour. But shaming casts a shadow across our feelings of self-worth and leaves us feeling less, with doubt that we are enough. Continue reading Shame