In Christian circles, we hear about wounds and healing from those wounds all the time. We understand that these wounds are typically not physical, but rather they are deeply emotional; ones that have a lasting effect. But what does it mean to seek healing? What does it mean to ultimately be healed?
Until fairly recently I carried the disposition of “toughing through it”, “moving on”, or “it’s not a big deal.” Looking back I can only laugh at my former process of getting through things, mostly because I am a person who feels very deeply. And while that quick method of “moving on” may sound great, it rarely ever worked for someone like me (I.e. a human being with a human heart). Without trying to be too snarky, I do mean this with all sincerity; part of the human experience is to experience shame, guilt, pain, suffering, etc. it is, in fact, the result of original sin. However, God calls us to, “be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” A pretty intense standard, don’t you think? Odds are, you fall into the category of “imperfect” right now, and that’s okay; I’m right there with you! So maybe we can’t be perfect today, but we can certainly strive for it by taking active steps in that direction. In order to arrive at this place of perfection, though, we MUST actively seek out healing.
By intentionally taking time to seek out healing for yourself, you are actually seeking out holiness. Because when that wounded part of our heart receives healing, we are ultimately receiving purification; the more purified we are, the closer to sainthood we are. So, allow me to reiterate: you are NOT selfish for wanting to take care of yourself. Now, that being said, that does not give us the green light to lounge in bed and overindulge in food, drink and technology every day. Sure, we all need a good lounging every now and then, but the self care that I am referring to is much more intentional than that. So let’s go back to our original questions: What does it mean to seek out healing? And what does it mean to ultimately be healed?
What does it mean to seek out healing? Where do we even begin? The stage of feeling the pain of your wounds and wondering where to turn is probably the most overwhelming place to be. Many people I know, myself included, would tend to shut down and suppress before taking action. If this is you, fear not because this is very normal! Your body is simply trying to protect you by going into this mode of defense. It also makes sense, because our culture provides two courses of action in moments like this, and those options are either 1) suppress, or 2) indulge. But I’m here to reveal the beautiful truth that there is, in fact, a third option. I truly believe that the first step of healing is bringing your wounds to the light. That may look like confiding in a friend, priest, therapist, parent, sibling, etc. Finding a person you trust who will reverence what you share. Ideally, finding someone who is willing to walk with you in that healing journey. I have found that seeking out a professional is extremely helpful, because they will certainly hold you accountable when you feel like pulling back. I would absolutely not recommend opening up to just anyone; this is a very fragile part of your heart that needs to be received with reverence and respect. That first step of initially bringing your pain to the surface is so important and leaves you filled with this abundant feeling of freedom! I encourage you, do not underestimate the power of this step! It may seem simple, but it is truly necessary to take this first step.
After that moment of bringing darkness to light, you may feel the urge to pull back and suppress; maybe pretend like it never happened. This is what a friend of mine once called the “vulnerability hangover.” That moment when you pour out so much of your heart in true honesty and vulnerability, and several days later you feel exposed and ashamed of it. This is exactly why I highly encourage going to someone you truly trust, but even more so a professional (i.e. a counselor, life coach, or a spiritual director) so that you have built in accountability to see how you are doing and to gently pull you back in. Maybe you would rather not go to a professional, and that is okay! If so, in that moment of being honest and vulnerable, it’s helpful to ask that person to check in with you in a few days to see how you are doing or what you need. Or simply asking for continued accountability! Consistency is key.
From there, where do we go? To preface, I am not a professional. However, from personal experience and observation in my own life, I’ve seen that this is typically where your journey takes ten steps further in becoming more unique to you and your situation. There is no cut and dry step on how to process or how long it should take. Maybe you need counseling for three months, maybe you need it for three years, or maybe you need it for a lifetime. Your journey is YOUR journey, not anyone else’s. Your personhood is so unique that you might need something radically different from the next person who suffers from similar emotional trauma. The most concrete, and seemingly simple, piece of advice I can offer is to ask yourself the question, “what do I need right now?” Take a minute to sit with this question every day, and if taken seriously, I promise you will find what it is that is lacking in your life.
The end goal: What does it mean to ultimately be healed? Like I said earlier, suffering is a part of the human experience. My unprofessional opinion, I really do not know if I will ever experience a time in my life where there is absolutely no suffering. That would be pretty incredible if that were the case, but I truly cannot say if that will ever be my experience on earth. We were made for heaven, which means we are constantly going to experience the ache and longing in our hearts for the kingdom until the day we arrive. However, on the same token, I would argue that a complete healing from our wounds is possible to experience on earth. What I have seen that look and feel like is freedom. Freedom to be yourself and to love those around you without hesitation or shame. Freedom to live in the reality of who you are with confidence and joy. Freedom to feel your emotions without holding back. Freedom to receive love so graciously. Freedom. There is an evil one who wants us in bondage, who wants to manipulate our woundedness to the point of leaving us ashamed of who we are. God wants your freedom, so at the end of it all it would make sense that HE is the healer. With all of that being considered, I ask you to please have mercy on yourselves in your healing journey, because the reality is that we are in a battle. We are in a battle against evil, who is desperately trying to make us fail. But the great news is Jesus already won the battle! He already defeated evil and continues to defend you to your death. God wants to heal your heart. He wants you to live your life in confidence and freedom. And trust me when I say, you deserve this. You deserve to take your heart seriously and sprint towards the healing and freedom Our Father intended for you.