Have you named and claimed the pain stealing your joy?

As I stood up, I could feel blood streaming down my face.  I was 5 and had been standing behind an aluminum horse swing.  I had just been told not to stand near the swing and like a typical kid, I did anyway.  The results – a gash on my forehead requiring stitches.  Interesting fact:  when our bodies bleed, a signal is sent from our brain to the blood vessels to try and constrict them to stop the bleeding – initiating the healing process.

Just as our brains recognize the physical wounds, we must also recognize our emotional wounds to begin to heal and ‘stop the bleeding’ of our hearts.  Accepting that there is hurt and it’s time to move past it is important to start the healing process. Often, we become so deeply a part of what is embedded in our daily trials that it becomes a part of our identity, dwelling in this place of pain and hurt.

So how do you recognize something is wrong?  How do you uncover this pain, name it and claim it?

When my check engine light comes on in the car, it is a warning sign that something is definitely not right and I need to have someone take a look at it.  If I fail to acknowledge it and continue to drive my car with the check engine light on, I may be able to get several miles out of it before something happens that may leave me on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck and cost me more money than if I would have had it checked when it first came on.  Unlike our cars, we don’t have a flashing warning light that is visible right in front of us.  We just feel this emotional pain constantly piercing our hearts.

light heart clouds summer
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If you ignore the piercing of your heart, refusing to name it and claim it, the pain continues to grow, binding you and strangling your joy – costing you more, just like ignoring the warning light on your car.

Name it 

I remember the day after I left my ex-husband, how bruised and broken I felt.  It wasn’t until after I left and reality began to settle that I realized how much I was bleeding internally from the open wounds of my marriage.  Within an instance my world was shaken up and now I had to name what seemed normal in my life.  Without giving it a name, I could not deal with it, eliminate its constant infliction upon me and move past it.  I had to know what it was to begin to deal with it, to heal from it.

Until you give it a name, even though you have recognized that you are hurting, you can’t move into the healing phase.  Naming it gives you this affirmation that there is a wound that needs to be healed.  It provides you a focal point and identification of what you need to heal from.

When you go to the doctor because you have stomach pain or some other ailment that is bothering you,  he performs a diagnostic based on your symptoms.  Then he tells you the name of the ailment and how he is going to treat it.  He can’t treat it unless he knows what he is treating.

This is the same with our spiritual and emotional healing.  Until you know what your ailment is, give it a name, you can’t move on in the healing process.

Claim it

Now that you have given it a name, you have to accept it.  It is a part of your life journey but it does not define you as an individual.  Accepting the pain allows you to surrender to God to enable Him to walk with you and heal you.

The most vivid image I have of this part of my own healing process is peeling the layers of an onion.  This is an image that crops up often in my spiritual direction meetings.  Just when I think I am healed, another layer begins to come off.  And just like peeling an onion, tears are shed.  The more layers I peel, the deeper I go within my heart, uncovering roots of the pain in my life.  The grace of peeling that onion is the wisdom gained as I face the deeper pain and accept God’s help.  What I have discovered is that the closer to the core, my relationship with God deepens, my dependence on Him strengthens.  This is how I know that I am personally healing spiritually.

Are you feeling a piercing in your heart?  Have you named it and claimed it?  If not, start today so that you can heal within and unravel the chains that have been binding your joy.

Are the small sins devouring you?

“Confession is like a bridle that keeps the soul which reflects on it from committing sin, but anything left unconfessed we continue to do without fear as if in the dark.”

–Saint John Climacus

I have been observing this momma duck and her ducklings for about a week or so around the pond at work during my morning walk. Yesterday, as I walked around and noticed the mother duck, I only saw one duckling nestled under her wing. About a week ago, there were around 13.

As I ponder the fact that some other animal had been lurking around and devouring these poor little ducklings for a nice meal, I  couldn’t help but think about how often in my own life the enemy of my soul lurks around waiting to devour me. Ever so sneaking, he preys upon me. He does it in little things – mostly in the small sins I commit and tuck away.  And so often the impact is to my family and friends.

Do you often feel like you are prey to darkness? Have you hidden away small sins or may be big sins deep within?  Do you ever feel like these small sins are consuming little bits of you?

Like many, I struggle with ongoing sins, those I commit over and over again.  They come in various sizes and degrees. Perhaps you struggle with some of these same things.

Anger

All the enemy has to do sometimes is just strike at my heal and cause something to not go my way or as I expected.  I become frustrated and say words that I never meant to say but just rolled off my tongue.  How many friendships have ended because of that very thing?  How many family relationships become strained because of the slaying of the tongue in anger?

Jealousy

Jealousy is such a lovely sin because it’s one that springs most often from a feeling of not being loved.  No matter what our brains know and understand about one’s love for us, the enemy preys on our heart, our emotions and tells us that the other person doesn’t love us or love us as much as someone or something else and our friend jealousy strikes.

Pride

This one is a definite struggle.  Who doesn’t want to accept a pat on the back and think they are the best?  Who doesn’t want everyone to know that they are good at something?  Accepting a pat on the back is not bad but the enemy very slippery will come on in and enlarge that pat on the back into the sin of pride.  Have you had a friendship that was strained because you were overly proud of your capability and squashed their ability?

Procrastination

I think, often, procrastination affects us when we ignore God and His will for us.  When you have the gut wrenching desire to go help at a food pantry, a shelter, or join a ministry and you put it on the back burner, telling yourself, “I’ll do it later when I have more time.”  Perhaps at that very moment you were intended to be at that place to fulfill God’s plan in you or someone else’s life.  How many opportunities have you passed up that God was calling you to because you procrastinated?

Gossip

I don’t think anyone does this, right? Perhaps this is one that most people struggle with over and over again.  I use to work with a coworker that use to start off her gossip conversations with “I mean this in a Christian way, but …..”  It baffled me.  How in the world can you put Christ’s name in a conversation where you are going to talk about or judge someone?  Gossip is the double sworded tongue.  The enemy comes in and he gives you a sense that you will feel better about yourself if you share things about another.  In other scenarios, he tells you that you are helping someone by sharing something they confided in you with another.  A chain reaction kicks into play – very quickly.  How many relationships have been ruined over gossip?  How many stories have been misconstrued over gossip?

Lying

This is one I love. My girls and I often get in very good debates on the existence of a “good lie”. Sure there are lies that are told for very good intentions, such as keeping a surprise. Our debate normally is about a “good lie” or “the white lie” that it is still a lie no matter how you slice it. If we get in the habit of justifying a lie as a “good lie”, then we are being the judge of what is sin and what is not. We are essentially playing God.

Of course there are more little sins than what I mentioned above but these are probably the more common ones that are repeat offenders for most. In each of these, I think the enemy finds a little crack, perhaps our weakness, and strikes.

After the enemy preys on us and devours a small piece within us, he falls to the floor giggling with laughter because he has defeated the light God places within us and sheds darkness upon it.  My girls watch the series “Once Upon a Time”.  It’s a very twisted version of the fairy tales most of us grew up reading.  I find it quite interesting that when a good person does something that is sinful, their heart darkens and they become an antagonist in the story line.  I kind of view that same analogy with our own battle with sin.  When we allow these small sins to devour us internally little by little, we are allowing it to spread darkness within us.

So how do you get rid of it?  How do you illuminate the dark areas of sin in your life?  You could repair some of the damage by doing good deeds and works.  But that doesn’t repair your soul, it helps to repair the relationships and connectivity of your sin to the world, which is called penance.  It is imperative that you go to confession often, seeking forgiveness for all sins, especially the smallest sins that are tucked away in darkness.  It is in this very Sacrament that God’s love, mercy and compassion fills the dark crevices within you, illuminating you with His very light.

Dig deep within and uncover those small sins tucked away and go to confession.  Jesus defeated the enemy on the cross and offers you this forgiveness to defeat the enemy so that he does not devour you, separating you from the grace God offers you every microsecond of the day.

Spiritual Healing

pexels-photo-999311.jpeg“For I will restore you to health and I will heal you of your wounds.” – Jeremiah 30:17 (NASB)

Who hasn’t endured suffering through a trial or doesn’t know someone who has?  I’m not sure anyone can answer “not me” to this question.  Pain and suffering surround our life.  It’s part of our world.  Trials are a part of our life journey.  God never says we will not suffer.  He does say he will be with us and see us through those times of suffering.

Jesus bore the ultimate suffering.  When he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, his “tears became like drops of blood,” (Luke 22:24) and he placed his will in God’s hands.  As he asks God to “take this cup away from me; still, not my will, but yours be done,” (Luke 22:42) God gave him strength to endure the suffering of his journey that lay before him.  God also sent Simon the Cyrenian to help carry Jesus’ cross.  I believe God also sends people and circumstances to us as we place our will in his hands during our struggles, while carrying our crosses.

Everyone undergoes suffering at some point in their life.  These trials may come in different shapes and sizes and affect each person in different ways.  One may suffer the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, addiction, divorce, be a victim of abuse or a tragic accident.  This list goes on.  During this time, many people discover a relationship with God or may strengthen their relationship with God.  Some may never get passed it.  They may become angry with God.  They may wonder where God is or how could he let this happen, yet they never ask him.  They remain stuck, angry, bitter.  Their world becomes plagued with darkness and they can’t move on, past the hurt.

Healing from a tragedy or a trial in your journey of life is key to peace, joy and happiness.  Healing cannot be complete without going through a process, an emotional process, a process with God ever present, guiding you.

Many years ago, I went through an emotional healing process, a spiritual healing.  Through my journey, I uncovered a reliance on God.  I sought God as he guided me through a very emotional and painful divorce.  There were several elements along the way that I needed to achieve spiritual healing, total healing from my trial.  God prepared me each step.  Before advancing to the next step, I needed to learn the step before it.  It’s like a father who is teaching his little girl how to walk.  Before she can begin to walk on her own, he helps her stand and feel her strength in her legs.  Then he holds her hand as he helps her move each foot, one step at a time.  When she begins to grasp it, he lets go.  She falls and he picks her up, reassuring her confidence as he holds her hand again and then let’s go.  The process continues until she masters each step, with his guidance and security knowing he is there to pick her up.  This process is similar to God’s spiritual healing process.  The entire time he is there giving you strength, guiding your hand, and ready to pick you up when you fall.  Then one day, you are ready to walk your journey with joy in your heart.