I have to admit…It has taken me a long time to learn there is no shame in showing your emotions. When was the last time you sat down and had a good cry? When was the last time you allowed yourself to really feel and process a situation that impacted you in a negative way? I was asked this question the other day and I realized the answer was “I can’t even remember.” Crying? Crying showed the world that I was hurt, and crying in front of someone showed others that I had a brokenness inside that I wasn’t ready to admit was there. I used to think that my deep emotions that accumulated from my past were something that should never talked about, rarely felt, and just stuffed into the furthest and deepest corner of my mind. I always dictated there was a time limit on how long I was allowed to feel bad about something and then I had to just force myself to forget it and move on, even if I wasn’t healed. If I forgot about the event, then I could pretend that these painful wounds weren’t real. I could pretend that deep down, I wasn’t hurting.
I grew up in a relatively conservative family I guess you could say, where if someone was emotionally hurt, the wounds were just ignored in hopes that they would eventually just fade away. The negative situation was rarely resolved, and it was expected that we would just ignore the conflict and carry on as before. If that wasn’t going to happen, then I learned that you just ignore the person all together. The ability to emotionally open up was not welcome, so rarely did any conflict ever resolve itself. Ignorance is bliss, right? I learned that If you just pretend you’re not hurt, then you’re not…. If I just tucked my emotional wounds away, there was hope they would eventually be forgotten. Emotions in general weren’t something I would say I ever became comfortable with. I learned to hide them well and the thought of them made me seriously uncomfortable, as I am sure many members of my family felt as well.
This is how I lived a majority of my life. Afraid of my emotions. Afraid to confront the uncomfortable emotion I was feeling. Afraid to let the pain of being hurt one more time, in to my heart. So, in order to protect myself, I gradually and unknowingly built up emotional walls. I built walls that some days seemed so tall, so wide, and so downright impenetrable, that not even an atomic bomb could break through.
I loathed feeling any uncomfortable emotion, as I’m sure many do. It’s never fun to be hurt, but by denying that I was, I slowly became less and less vulnerable to any emotions and my wall started to come through in my personality. If you hurt me, I was definitely not going to talk to you anymore, and if I hurt you, I would just pretend I didn’t in hopes that the talk we would have to have about “feelings” would never come about. I found that I would continuously pretend that the pain of rejection and abandonment wasn’t there and wasn’t impacting the choices I was making.
As I grew in my relationship with Jesus I tried even harder to forget my past and turn to Him. But at each turn I was met with more frustration and more anger as I continuously found my emotional wall getting in the way. I thought that because scripture teaches us to leave our past behind us, that I could just ignore it and pretend it didn’t bother me anymore. What I didn’t realize was that Jesus kept allowing this wall to get in front of me so that I was forced to confront it. He needed me to accept that it was there so that I would start to allow Him to tear it down.
He was making it clear that I needed to confront the painful emotional moments from my past in order to heal. I was no longer going to be able to blindly dance around the pain of my past in hopes that Jesus would forget it and give me a free pass to become the person He was sanctifying me to be. It was terrifying sitting on the outside of the pain and wondering how it was going to feel to dive back in. The fear of feeling the pain was keeping that wall stuck in place. But you know what was even scarier? The loneliness that faced me if I kept that wall up. Jesus quickly made it known that He was going to be with me during the whole walk. That He was there to hold my hand through all the messiness and that He wasn’t ever going to give me anything more than I could handle. He was showing me how all the pain, rejection and shame I had ignored, was still carried around with me.
He slowly started to show me that if I kept pretending and continuing to ignore the fact that I had been hurt in my past, I was keeping myself from truly being free in my future. The past feelings of rejection, of abandonment, of shame, and of unworthiness was my dark and gloomy shadow. A shadow that constantly covered me in its darkness. If I didn’t deal with these wounds and allow Him to move in to heal them, they would follow me around forever. This shadow and this seemingly impenetrable wall kept people who truly cared about me at arms length. It stopped me from even accepting the full capacity of the love of Jesus.
All I had to do was ask God to poke a peephole in that wall. I invited Him to start tearing that wall down brick by brick. It’s been slow, it’s been hard, it’s been eye opening, but mainly it’s been freeing. I still have days where I don’t know how things will ever change. But one thing I do have, is the Hope that God promised to us all repeatedly throughout the Bible. Jesus didn’t save us from our sins to let us sit around and live in the oppressive guilt of our pasts. He didn’t save us from our sins and from the curse of death to just leave us to wallow in our shame. He wants us to be over-comers! He wants to save us from the hurt of our pasts! He is sitting on the outside of our walls waiting for us to invite Him to peep over. He is ready to tear them down, if you are willing to allow Him to.
God wants to come in to every emotion of anger, of rejection, of abandonment, and of shame. He wants to show you just How loved and valued you are. It honestly doesn’t matter if you feel like God is working or not, He is there. Are you willing to accept it? My dear, you are the child of the most high King! You didn’t just slip in to salvation on the coat tails of others. You didn’t just slide in the back door unnoticed by Him. You aren’t the one person in this world who believes in the redemption bought by Jesus’s sacrifice and then in turn, that redemption doesn’t equivocate to your past. If He can do it for Paul, He can do it for you. You need to know that He knows you. He knows every thought, every hurt, every emotion, every choice, and every mistake you’ve made. He knows, and He still wants you to come to Him for healing. His love for us is nurturing. It’s there to heal every wound, to heal all trauma, and to create in us a new identity. Jesus is always ready to get down and dirty with the ugly that is left inside of us.
What I have come to realize, is that God gave us emotions for a reason- all the good, the bad, and the ugly. They help us work through every aspect of our lives. He rejoices with us in the good and he holds our hand through the bad. I truly believe if it hurts us, it hurts God. He doesn’t want to see us in pain… But while we live in this world it’s something we need to learn to deal with. The hope and faith that He wants to be with us through the pain and the valleys is life changing. This hope is the anchor for our soul.
I’m not saying coming to terms with your past is fun. It’s not easy and it’s somewhat downright discouraging when you feel like you can’t overcome. But I’ve learned (and am still learning) to be patient through it all and to trust in Jesus to walk me through this journey. He is the light in the darkness after all. As I dove back into my relationship with Jesus, I often looked at my past wondering where Jesus was during all the pain. I wondered why He allowed me to get so deep into the emotional torment of myself. Why didn’t He didn’t save me a long time ago? It was made so clear to me that it wasn’t that God wasn’t there, but it was based on the fact that I never let God in to handle my emotions. While I always believed God was real, I never invited him in to my mess. Jesus was always there watching and waiting to be asked for His healing, His wisdom, His guidance, and His love, but I was so stuck on the idea of fixing myself and doing everything on my own, that I never allowed Him to come in to truly come in to be the King of my life.
God was there in all the rejection. God was there in all the pain. But by keeping Him at arms length the whole time, I never let Him in to the painful emotions I was feeling. He was in the background waiting to be invited in to nurture every loss, every mistake, and every time I was told I wasn’t good enough. He waited through every heart break and through every emotional trauma. Every trial- Jesus was there. You see, Jesus is a gentleman, He will not come crashing through your walls like the kool-aid man. Even if some days I wish He would come in like a wrecking ball, I have learned that He will wait until He is invited into the brokenness. He wants to come in and to take hold of your wounds and heal them, but you have too let Him. Learn to have patience as you walk this journey, it is not going to happen over night. But Jesus wants every single person to overcome our pasts. Nothing you have done is a surprise to Him. He knows, He forgives, and He wants us to be reborn into the life that He has planned for us. Know that you are not alone in this journey. He is there to guide you and hold your hand through every situation you may face.
Jesus has made it so known to me that He is always here. to help us process our emotions. He has made it known to me that my past will not dictate my future as long as I am willing to accept His help… The hope of a future and the peace that comes along with knowing Jesus is our SAVIOUR has quickly become the comfort in my affliction and I hope He can become yours too.