New Year, Old Wounds
To heal doesn’t necessarily mean you get to forget. To be forgiven doesn’t mean you get to skip past the emotional consequences.
There is no cure for memory and some things you do just have to learn to live with. I use to think healing typically meant you forgot about the experience altogether or, at minimum, allotted you the luxury of an almost callous kind of indifference. That is a naivety I think we all fall victim to: to believe the final sign that we have healed from a thing, is when it magically erases itself from our memory, not so. I liken certain life events similar to being in a bad accident, you can be fully recovered and yet still have to accept the fact that you have to walk with a bit of a limp from now on. To clarify, if God keeps telling you to drive slower or more attentively or telling you, you need to wear your seat belt, but you insist on learning things the hard way, wisdom will come , but quite often at a price. In such cases, sometimes you heal, but under the pretense that things won’t ever be what they once were prior. You are never the same as you were before a significant experience and we often times think this indicates a lack of total healing, when in fact, the point of the experience is usually so that you are never quite the same as you were before and can’t revert back even if you tried. Sometimes the scar stays as an unavoidable reminder that backsliding is too painful of an option to not know better. Afterwards, we are sharper, smarter, wiser etc... but that doesn’t mean the hurt totally escapes us.
That’s why I think Jesus said when you have to forgive, forgive 77 times if you must (Matthews 18.22). The verse subtly acknowledges that sometimes the impressions that things and people leave on you even once they are gone, requires day in and day out , continual forgiveness in order to heal from them. Healing is not a one stop shop; for some, it is a life long pursuit . A thing I wish someone would have told me: there is nothing wrong with you if you have to continuously pray for peace on things in your past. God is not bored with your redundancy or disappointed in your struggle to let go of certain things. He is in fact delighted when you lean on him with sincerity, this is why he says "my power works best in your weakness" (2 Corinthians 12.9), * this of course is applicable only if you are actively aiding in your recovery as best as you can and not acting as a detriment to it.
- The best advice I can give is to take your time and PRAY for healing, but also ask for discernment, peace and understanding. And forgive. Guys... it is literally the most liberating and humbling and peaceful thing you can do. Christ calls you to forgive one another the way God forgives you, that is admittingly quite a tall order for the average person; so, I’ll drop something from a more human perspective that always puts the Christ level of forgiveness required of us in perspective for me: no matter how good you think you are, we are ALL “the bad guy” in someone’s life story. Someone, somewhere doesn’t give the most glowing review of you when your name comes up. You have said things that maybe , unknowingly to you , that to this day God is still trying to heal in another one of his children. You were someone’s "lesson learned" or "I should have known better." You’ve had you’re heart broken and had to pray about it? Keep living, you will eventually break someone’s heart and be the reason they have to pray. Forgive as God forgives you because it will not only bring you peace, but because you also don’t know how many prayers he has received on account of your own words and actions and still continues to look at you with love and bless you just the same.
From a human perspective, we are all so flawed and unfortunately when it is said “ Iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27.17), sometimes you are the blade and sometimes you are the one who gets cut . If you can not say you have never hurt someone, then don’t put yourself in some overly self righteous position in thinking people who have hurt you are undeserving of forgiveness (even if given just from afar). You can’t heal completely until you forgive, it’s almost impossible to totally forgive unless you look at things through a more empathetic lense; and what you can not relate to, pray earnestly over and start having really honest conversations with God about, he will move your spirit necessarily and in the right direction when you can’t.
- Take responsibility for your part. While there are definitely situations where people could be said to be completely not at fault for things that have happened to them, those are honestly far few in between. Most of us CHOOSE to dance with the devil ( either by directly defiling God's word or by overtly ignoring red flags along the way) and run back to God when those horns start to show a little too much for our liking and then act like our own hands are completely clean. You can’t learn from anything you refuse to take your fair share of responsibility for. In most cases we are willing participants in being the architects of our own emotional prisons. What does the situation reveal to you about your own character? Times that require healing almost always require introspective periods of questioning your own weaknesses as well.
- Lastly, accept that some old wounds sometimes always throb *depending upon the depth of the scar and especially due to how often you poke at them . Give it time, ask God to reveal things to you in the right time and proper perspective, but also understand you will never let go of anything you continue to play footsie with. Continuously involving yourself with the person or thing that inflicted the wound ,in most cases, disrupts your growth. The Bible consistently makes it clear that only good things come from the hand of the Father, all other things he may allow in order to test your character, but it is not his will for you to go back to things that hurt you either to test the depth/ sincerity of your healing or to show an unnecessarily exuberant/provoking form of forgiveness that he doesn’t require of you. As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool goes back to their folly (Proverbs 26.11). You are not proving anything but hindering your own healing by continuously picking at old wounds. Leave it alone. Forgiveness doesn’t always require access.
All that said, I’m praying for all of you a year of profound growth and healing and the ability to forgive the things and people that cause you to live and love in a debilitated state. I went through all of this last year and trust me it’s worth the work! I can honestly say you can move with so much more clarity when you work with God to release all of that old baggage. Honor and trust God enough to ask him to heal and also take root in knowing that you can’t make way for what’s new this year if you’re still seeing things from the perspective of your past hurt.
Love y’all and until next time,