Tag Archives: healing

Day 23: Self-Care (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsWe have to take care of ourselves. It has been such a long process for me to learn this. What is it for us, especially as women, that struggles so much with this concept? Why do we feel guilty? Why do we feel that we have to prove our toughness? (Ok, so that one is a loaded question with complex layers of answers.)

Equally hard has been learning that the way you need to take care of you may not be the same as the way I need to take care of me. There’s a significant amount of listening to ourselves—our own unique hearts and souls, the unique message the Spirit is  breathing into each one of us.

In many ways, I’ve gotten better about this, especially when, as a mother, I realized I would never be able to properly care for my kids if I wasn’t caring for me too. But sometimes, I still forget. I push too hard. I carry too much. And then I get knocked down hard.

I’m dealing with my second round of sickness within a month’s time, which is pretty unusual for me. I forgot to take care of me during the crazy, and now I’m paying for it with a struggling body and discouraged soul. But I’m thankful for the deluge of rain being dumped on our area this weekend. It is forcing me to slow down, to listen to what I need, to do something about it.

How can you take care of yourself this weekend?

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Healing the Race Wounds

Not too long ago, I was sharing with someone about the church my husband and I were at for 16 years before we moved.  It wasn’t perfect because there is no such thing as the perfect church, but there were some significant areas where this church got it very, very right.

The one I perhaps miss the most is that it was a dazzling kaleidoscope of color, so racially diverse.  And I’m not talking about a church that’s like 80% white with a few token black and Hispanic families thrown in so they can pat themselves on the back about being multiracial.  Not even close.  This was the real deal – a congregation with a strong African-American presence, a strong Hispanic presence, a strong Caucasian presence, plus a smattering of all kinds of other backgrounds and nationalities along the way.

I remember once hearing our pastor there mention how other pastor friends had commented on this characteristic and wondered how on earth we made it work.  And I remember thinking, “Why on earth would it not work?”

The context of this conversation was set against the deep racial wounds being exposed by the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial.  Truthfully, the depth of it all surprised me.  Not because I’m so naive as to think racism no longer exists in this country, but because I forget what a unique thing it is to grow up in an environment where racial differences were secondary to shared faith and purpose, where friendships were forged by what we had in common.  And when challenges did arise, they were navigated in the context of covenant relationships – we were committed to each other no matter what.

I have been blessed with friendships where we could frankly, lovingly and respectfully discuss issues of race – challenge each other or repent to each other when necessary.  We were able to say to each other, “Help me understand.”  We could face the hard things and walk away, not divided, but further unified.

I’ve had parents say to me, “Would it have been easier to go to an all [insert ethnicity or color] church?  Maybe, but I don’t want my kids growing up that way.  They would miss out on so much.”  So they made a deliberate choice to enlarge their boundaries.

This is the world I grew up in.  So yes, I forget that it’s not normal.  I said as much and the response I got was basically, “Yeah, you really need to get in touch with the rest of the world.”  And for a moment, I felt shamed and guilty, like I had done something wrong.

But the more I thought about it, I’ve concluded perhaps it would be more effective if the rest of the world got in touch with the reality I experienced.  We can stand in our monochromatic corners all day and shout, “Racism!” from afar at each other, but in the end, we will accomplish nothing.  There is no law, no trial verdict that can fix this.

The only way barriers come down is when we refuse to be contained by them.  If we actually want to mend this wound, we have to stop coming at each other insisting on being understood and instead lean in towards each other with a desire and willingness to understand.  And we absolutely must leave our all-(choose-your-color) corners of the universe and do life alongside each other.

And yes, I get that this is easier said than done.  It does get bumpy and difficult sometimes.  But it’s worth the effort and the messiness.  We have to stop imparting to our children the messages that “they’re just too different from us” or “they’re out to get us” or “they’ll never understand us” if we ever expect to make progress.  Instead the message needs to be, “There are people who are different from you, and that may be hard sometimes, but you will be wiser and better and richer if you will soak in everything they can teach and show you about the world.”

I’m crazy enough to believe this is possible.  Because I’ve lived it.  One person, one choice at a time, we can see this wound healed.

 

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Giving Voice to the Pain

It came out of nowhere.

One moment I was happily working in the kitchen.  The next, I could hardly breathe, my heart doubled over with an old wound ripped wide open.

Not so long ago, I would have panicked, metaphorically rushed to stop the bleeding with a pathetic gauze of scolding myself and telling myself to just get over it already.  But not this time.  I am learning the purpose of these moments.

A song was playing –  the cause of my emergency surgery.  The words crept from background noise, demanding to be heard and tasted.  All I could think was, “Where was this song all those years ago?”

I don’t know, but it was here today and it gave voice to everything I had been too paralyzed and stunned to say.  It was excruciating to look back on that season and say, “Yes, that’s how I felt.  That’s what happened.”

But then the song ended and a miracle happened.  My heart was more whole than it had been five minute before.  All because the pain found its voice and said what needed to be said.

I think sometimes we are afraid to admit the healing of our hearts is a process.  Sometimes a very long process.  It’s like we’re afraid of making God look bad, afraid to say “I’m mostly healed, but maybe not all the way healed yet.”  And we’re afraid of the reactions of others, the inevitable “shouldn’t you be over this already?”

Can I say to your bleeding heart, your scarred heart, your heart in rehab – it is ok that it still stings sometimes.  It is ok that certain places are sore when they are used or touched again.  It’s ok.

Rarely does an emotional pain only happen once.  Usually there are moments upon moments, associated with certain days and colors and sounds and smells and sights.  Rarely does an emotional pain only touch one spot or one layer of your heart.

Our hearts are complex and deep.  Just as the pain seeped into layers, so the healing will come in layers.  And we don’t need to fear this.  There is a difference between processing a pain and wallowing in it.  There is a difference in acknowledging a pain with all its side effects and holding on to it.

And when it comes to making God look bad, let me tell you, when it comes to the healing of your heart, He is not concerned how He looks to anyone else but you.  Every human relationship represents an aspect of God’s heart and when those relationships become less than holy, leaving their scars, our perspective of Him is marred.  Part of our healing comes when we can see Him clearly again.  And He will walk with you as long as it takes to uproot the lies and restore His truth.

So let me encourage you – don’t shrink back from the pain.  Even if it is an old one.  Truly one day, that wound will be closed once and for all, but until then, lean into the process.  He loves you far too much to leave a single detail behind.  And when you are whole, you will be perfectly, gloriously whole.

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Filed under Healing, Pain