“Don’t keep reflecting on the pain or the way in which he hurt you. That won’t help you heal quickly. It’s like looking at a sore or wound and wishing for it to heal. What you need to do is to take your eyes off the wound and the healing takes place in the background”.
Those were words that Papa spoke to my heart 5 days after the break-up. They were indeed words that my soul needed to hear at the time. When you’ve been through a hurtful experience, it is hard not to process and re-process the pain. As in, H.A.R.D!!! And whilst there’s definitely a time for processing your experience, so that you can extract the needful lessons, it is important not to dwell there or keep walking around the same mountain. If you do so, you may find yourself re-living the hurt all over again, which in itself is a painful exercise.
In order to begin to move forward, you need to consciously realign your thoughts every time you find your mind straying back to the pain of the past. As you keep doing so, it gets easier and easier; and after some time, you’ll find that you have indeed healed. Having been through this journey myself, there are a few things that I’d like to share about the process of healing:
- God is ALWAYS there!
Even when people have forgotten and have stopped checking up on you, God has been – and always will be – there. In Psalm 34:18, we are reminded: “The Lord is near the broken-hearted; He saves those crushed in spirit”. Even when you don’t understand all the emotions that you’re feeling, God understands and He cares; His understanding is infinite (Psalm 147:5). He hurts as you hurt. He is there to wipe away all your tears and He stores them in His bottle (Psalm 56:8). As you allow Him into those painful places, you will encounter aspects of God that you hadn’t quite experienced before. You will truly know Him as your Healer, not just because you heard it at church!
Kanayo Dike-Oduah so aptly described this in her recent testimony devotional Beauty in the Beast: “Sometimes we will pass THROUGH, to know that He IS”. In other words, that painful situation will give way to an experiential knowledge of God that could not have come any other way.
- It IS a journey!
It won’t happen overnight! If anyone tells you that, they’re lying! Healing takes T.I.M.E., so please give it the time that you need. Don’t try to rush the process! Even in a physical sense, when someone breaks a bone or sustains a bruise, it does take some time for the bones to re-set and the muscles to heal. How much more when it comes to matters of the heart?!?
Also, whilst on the journey, there will be good days and not-so-good days. You may find that you’ve had several smile-filled days; and then all of a sudden, a trigger occurs which brings back painful memories and then you start crying again. This may leave you wondering “But, I thought I had healed?”. Please note – it doesn’t mean you’re not healing; it is still a part of the journey.
Lysa TerKeurst’s words echo mine in her tweet: “It’s hard when a string of good days suddenly gives way to an unexpected emotional crash. But I’ve discovered those days don’t have to be setbacks. They can be evidence you’re moving through the hardest parts of healing. Don’t give up. There’s a beautiful remaking in process”.
I’m also reminded of the refrain from the song “After a while” by Kirk Franklin ft. Yolanda Adams. It goes: “After a while, after a while, this too shall pass after a while. Scars will heal; you’ll love again; it won’t hurt you after a while…”
- The journey is unique to YOU!
In other words, each person’s healing journey is different; therefore, don’t compare yours to another person’s. For you, it may take a few weeks; for another, it may take some months. Take the time that YOU need to take. It is not a competition! It’s better for the healing to be complete and you move forward once and for all, than for you to keep perambulating from season to season. Furthermore, by all means, take useful tips from people about how they moved on. However, don’t let that be your mantra. Each person is unique in how they process things and in what makes them tick. Therefore, be true to yourself and flow with what works for you.
- Life must go on!
Just because one scene of the play is complete, it doesn’t mean that the entire show is over. This is just an event; it’s not the entirety of your life. It’s just a chapter in the book, not the end of the story. Be encouraged by God’s words in Psalm 139:16 – “Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began”. He has got ALL the details of your life figured out, even this; yes, even this. So, once you’re ready, get on with living your life and enjoying the many blessings God has given you! Take that class, join that group, try out that new skill, work on your craft. Just keep it moving! That’s not to say that you should just drown out your life with activities so that you can block out the event(s)/people from your mind. No. You must take the time to process things first. However, once you have, don’t stay there. Keep moving forward!
- There is purpose to the matter.
Now, I think this is one of the hardest truths to accept when you’re in the midst of the healing journey! This is because as humans, we’re often prone to asking “Why?”. “Why did I have to go through this? Why did it have to be me? Why didn’t God protect me from this?” It’s ok to ask questions. However, we must come to a point where we realise that we may not always have all the answers. In fact, in some situations, we will just have to relinquish our understanding to God. That’s why He is God and we’re not. He knows EVERY thing! He never promised that we will understand everything that happens to us; however, what He did promise is that we can trust Him with our lives.
Whilst in His mercy, He often gives us glimpses into why we had to face certain painful experiences, the truth is He does not owe us an explanation. What we can rely on is that regardless of what we have faced or may be facing or will face in the future, He is already aware of it before it occurs. Nothing catches Him by surprise! God will never give us more than we can handle in His strength. Therefore, if He allowed it, then you can be sure that He will use it to bring about ultimate good – if you let Him.
One Scripture that really encouraged me on my journey of healing is Romans 8:28: “And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose”. He is the Ultimate Redeemer. He knows how to bring a crown of beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3). He can still create a masterpiece of your life even when there have been unpleasant marks on the palette.
Another aspect of this is that God can use our experiences as blessings and examples to others. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, it states ” 3All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us”. This became apparent to me quite recently when I was able to encourage a friend who was going through a particularly painful time. Based on my experience on the journey of healing, I was able to share words of wisdom, which she found really helpful. If I hadn’t gone through that painful experience, it would have been hard for me to understand how she was feeling; and even if I had offered her advice, it would have just been from a place of theory. Also, because I had gone through some of the stages she was going through, she could trust that there was credibility in what I was sharing with her. Why? Because I had walked that path myself; and by God’s grace, I had come out successfully.
- There is victory ahead.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. Now, victory may not come when or how we think it may come. However, it will surely come! There is a testimony from that test, a message from that mess. We can be encouraged by the words in Psalm 126:5-6 – ” 5 Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. 6 Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves”. So, rejoice in hope of that victory. When you get to that place where you have finally healed, you’ll be able to look back and say with confidence: “Though it was very painful at the time and it wasn’t easy, yet, the journey was worth it”…
If there’s one thing on this journey of healing that you must really resist the urge to do, it’s this – hardening your heart. If you let it, this will be your heart’s natural response to the pain and hurt – to become bitter/ indifferent/ cynical/ detached. However, for your own emotional health and for the sake of your future relationships, you MUST resist this urge! Be honest with how the experience may have scarred you; however, don’t stay there!
As the popular saying goes “hurt people hurt people”. Please, please don’t add to that statistic. Instead, let God heal you fully and also keep your heart tender – towards Him and towards others.
For more on the grieving process, you can check out this article.
Also, if you need a bit of a heart massage right now, you can check out this article.