I was abused.
I was angry.
I was confused.
I didn’t trust anyone.
I didn’t feel worthy of love.
So I acted out. I got in fights. Disrespected my peers and probably my teachers. Definitely disrespected my parents, family members, and those closest to me. I made poor decisions. I dated abusive men. Hurt people and did things I regret.
As I grew up I hid my shame, fear, and anger deep down so no one could see. But it was all still there. The wounds. The feelings. Darkening every part of my life, if even just a bit. Distorting my perceptions, expectations, and beliefs related to life, work, and relationships. They showed their face every once in a while. When the stakes got really high. When I was feeling particularly low. When I was inexplicably triggered.
As I was trying to live in the hidden middle, not feeling much and trying to control it all, I flowed in and out of volatile emotions never knowing when things might explode. One day, when I realized I might lose it all, I put down my ego and admitted the problem was me. I knew in my heart there was more to life than how I was experiencing it. I knew deep down I was trying to outrun things. So I turned to face those wounds and feelings that had been following me, impacting me, holding me back. It was hard and scary, at first. Facing things I just wanted to forget. Feeling things I never wanted to feel.
But the extraordinary part was, once I faced and felt them, they were free to go…and they did. Just acknowledging those wounds and feelings took away their power and allowed them to be released. Slowly but surely, where there was darkness there started to be light. I started to feel lighter and happier, freed from all the burdens I was carrying (mine and those I was never meant to carry from others).
I had so much light and love locked down inside me to give. In attempting to live in the middle I was limiting what my life could be. At the extremes of life, the unbelievable joy and the deafening pain…that is where the beauty of life was. As I allowed myself to experience the extremes, I lived more constantly in a state of peace. As I surrendered control into the hands of Jesus, I found joy. Even when things don’t go my way, or I am feeling down, I see the light of hope He is holding for me.
Whatever you believe, I want you to know a few things:
- That child who acts up in your kid’s class, that co-worker frustrating you, that family member who just can’t get their act together, that person who hurt you…they are a wounded human. They are struggling to carry and bury their wounds and feelings. It’s not about you.
- No matter how great your life has been, you have things you carry and bury. At any time we all do. Rest, respite, self-care, reflection, sharing, and community allow us to process and release so we can see just how beautiful life really is without that dark veil.
- No matter how tough your life has been, there is hope. It is never too late to do your work. You have never done too much to turn back. You are loved. You are forgiven. Even if humans cannot find it in their heart to forgive you, even if you are not able to make amends on this earth, Jesus loves you. This I know for sure.
Whatever you are carrying or burying, Jesus sees it and He loves you anyway. Jesus gave us all that capacity to love and forgive, and it has to start with ourselves. Until we understand, forgive, love, and care for ourselves, we are not able to do that for others.
I carried and buried my wounds and feelings for 30 years. Before I understood myself and my story, I was ashamed and afraid. In the unpacking and the understanding was my superpower. Unending light and love, and peace and joy, even in the hard times.
Make time for you this year. Rest, reflect, discover, process, forgive, love, and care for yourself so you can be your best for those you care about. A few quotes to ponder:
Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways. -Sigmund Freud
Busyness, however, is moral laziness because it involves refusing to live with courage and intentionality. – Dan B. Allender
He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still. -Lao Tzu