My husband asked me one time if I thought that it was better for the world that some people stay in denial about their issues. After all, they are functioning in life…even over contributing sometimes. What if facing their pain and walking the tumultuous journey toward freedom would mess them up and make them a burden?
I think this is a real fear that keeps people from doing the work to heal from the trauma of their past. I’ve watched it play out in those who only want to enjoy their youth and others who feel “too old” to dredge up “water under the bridge”. It’s easier to pretend. Easier to hide. Easier to be a burden to others with the usual personality flaws and control issues than to face the underlying problem.
So we cover our problems instead of facing them. We make them our allies and tell ourselves that our issues are the very things that make us effective and productive. Or we “find Jesus” and we throw some Bible verses on them every time they surface. We go to the altar and beg for deliverance. We tell ourselves “God’s got this. All I need is more faith.” We jump into our career, our hobbies, our service, even our families…anything to avoid facing the real issues. Anything to keep us playing the part. Anything to keep living up to the expectations. Anything to look like we have it all together.
Because healing is not only hard work, sometimes there has to be destruction before there can be rebuilding.
I know this lesson well. I am living in a house that has to be re-remodeled. We moved in and tried to just cover the issues for a while before we decided that if we wanted this home to be safe for the long-term, we would need to put in the money, time, and stress now.
So we are in the middle of fixing our home. And it’s more broken than it has ever been. Things didn’t get better when we started this process. First, they got worse. Uncovering the problems meant tearing down some things and facing down the ugly. And some days this feels like it will never end.
It’s so hard to appreciate progress when chaos is present, isn‘t it?
Daily, I ask myself, “Should we have just left it alone?” Daily, I think, “We were better off when it was what it was.”
Were we better off when leaks were springing randomly from worn out pipes and soaking into wood and sheetrock? Were we better off when there was some kind of weird, wet substance seeping through our floors? Were we better off when the upstairs area was always ten degrees hotter than the downstairs? Were we better off when the lights flickered often and I wondered if we were moments away from a deadly fire?
Which brings me back to my husband’s question. Are people better off in denial of their issues? Are they better off when their bitterness is springing leaks into their closest relationships? Are they better off when some kind of weird emotional pain seeps through their every day? Are they better off when they work harder than everyone around them just to prove to themselves they are worthy? Are they better when they are always living moments away from a breakdown or a blow up?
Nope. Not better off.
So how does one even start to heal?
Admit that you need to. Stop covering the issues. Stop stuffing your emotions. Stop being “grown up” about it, and instead bring it to Jesus with a childlike faith that believes He loves you and desires to make you whole. He knows you better than you know yourself, and He knows your exact path and your exact pace to wholeness.
“Lord, I’m broken. Only You know the depth of it. Only You know how to walk me to freedom. Please heal me.”
Healing is hard work and it’s path isn’t linear. There is destruction…an uncovering of old festering wounds, a demolition old habits, a chaos of living between the old and the new…before there is rebuilding. And honestly, in the middle of it, there is this place where it seems impossible and you’ll want to turn back…
…but you can’t.
Because when you step out on the brave journey toward wholeness, you might not always see it, but there is progress. Going back to the old becomes impossible. You can stay in chaos or you can move forward into more progress, but you can’t go back to what you used to be.
The pain of the process can be blinding, but don’t give up. Right in the middle of that chaos is a Master Builder who knows exactly what He is doing.
And it’s going to be worth it. Just go watch an episode of “Fixer Upper”. :)