Healing for My Soul

This blog was re-purposed almost four months ago when I genuinely felt God leading me to speak to women in a way that would encourage and empower them to live life to the fullest and embrace what it means to be a woman, to be a daughter of the King, and to be sisters who uplift one another, rather than tearing each other down, only to continue to feel bad about themselves. Thus, Loving H.E.R. was born. In the next few posts, I want to share from my heart and from the heart of our Creator what He wants for us, as I dig into expanding the meaning behind the title. I hope and pray that you take something away from here that will help you grow, and hopefully be the beginning of a new beginning for whomever needs that in their life journey. Today we talk about Healing from the Past

Healing is a process with which we are all familiar. But it is something that is often hard to achieve, because either we run from it or we deny that it needs to happen. The human body is a wonder in that it is designed with certain “tools” that work to promote the healing process. The ability to grow new skin cells after a child scrapes their knee, the rush of white blood cells to an area to prevent infection and disease, and a host of other things that happen when we are injured or sick that work to help us recover and restore us to health. To heal is “to make healthy, whole, or sound, or to restore to health.” In other words, the purpose of healing is restoration, and restoration is exactly what many of us need but can’t really obtain for one reason or another.

Many of us are walking around with wounds that have not been healed, whether we want to admit it or not. Broken hearts, broken relationships, disappointments, failures are all sources of wounds that we carry around with us in our “baggage” every day. But, in order to grow and continue to move forward, we need to obtain healing from the things in our past that are holding us back from enjoying and embracing the beauty of the present, while robbing us of joyous anticipation for the future. It is only when we engage in the healing process and are intentionally reaching for wholeness within ourselves, that we are able to put each and every experience in its proper perspective and glean the wisdom that we are able to utilize to fulfill our divine purpose. All your experiences have the potential to provide the motivation for your life’s purpose, but only if you have taken the time to learn from them and are willing to be honest with others about what you have learned. Nothing is worse than a wasted life experience that holds you hostage instead of empowering you to live your best life and be the best possible version of the person God has created you to be.  So, how do we achieve the healing needed in order to be free to move forward and embrace the next step?

The first step in the healing process, and the most important step, is acknowledging that there is a wound that needs to be healed. Dr. Phil always says to his guests, “You cannot change what you don’t acknowledge.” I’m no big Dr. Phil fan, but the statement rings all too true. You cannot achieve healing when you don’t admit that there is something that needs to be healed. Many of us have been suckered into believing that admitting that you have been hurt is a sign of weakness. The reality is that you cannot move on from an experience if you ignore it, or deny that it happened. And, what’s worse is that, the more you try to ignore it, the more discomfort it will cause you. Just like an infection of the body that worsens without treatment, an area that is causing you pain will only become more and more painful when you choose to disregard it. It will oftentimes become toxic, clouding your emotions and impairing your ability to be impartial when dealing with the experiences of others. in short, you will not be in a position to help others when you haven’t dealt with your own baggage. But the only way to begin to deal with your baggage is to first admit that you have a full set of Samsonite following you around in life. This is why having a trusted confidante is so important. Find someone who loves you enough to tell you when you are being irrational and a little crazy, but at the same time, possesses the compassion necessary to listen and encourage and walk with you through the process of healing. The healing process is often a hard thing to do on your own, and it’s not really something that you are supposed to do alone. Healing requires support and unconditional love that helps you learn and grow. So, don’t just admit to yourself that you need to heal from an experience. Find someone who can walk with you through the process and help you to stay positive as you work through it.

The second step in the healing process is forgiveness. This is equally as important as the first, but definitely the hardest part of the entire process. Someone once defined forgiveness as accepting the consequences of another person’s actions. Another way of defining forgiveness is accepting the apology that you will never get. The truth is that, for many, the idea of allowing someone to “get away” with the damage that they caused us seems incredibly unfair. However, the other side of that is that you will continue to walk through life with a chip on your shoulder over someone who is living their life without a second thought to whatever situation has you held hostage emotionally. The underlying purpose of forgiveness is to free you to live your life unencumbered and unhindered. For some, the person who needs to most forgiveness is yourself. We are often our own worst critics. I know that to definitely be true for me. But the thing that I am still learning and practicing is to remember that I am fallible and I am going to make mistakes, and that’s okay, as long as I learn from them and try not to repeat the same mistake over and over again. Compassion for oneself is the biggest part of forgiving yourself. Understand one important thing about forgiveness: It is a process and a choice. Forgiveness, just like healing, doesn’t happen overnight. It is something that requires you waking up daily and deciding that you are going to forgive, whether it is yourself, or someone else, or a situation in general. And you have to be intentional about it, because forgiveness doesn’t come naturally in the human nature, such as it is. Note that forgiveness does not require you to grant re-entrance into your life by the recipient of your forgiveness, including an old personal habit that caused you repeated pain and personal unrest. You wouldn’t allow someone outside of you to continue to do you harm, so why allow your internal self to do the same? That’s why the healing process is so important. It helps you identify damaging and destructive patterns in your own behavior that keeps you from the growth that you desire, along with discovering external behaviors that you repeatedly accept that are not necessarily in your best interest. Forgiveness is for you more than it is for the recipient of your forgiveness. Give yourself the opportunity to be free and live free of the burden of holding on to things that are only causing you more pain and turning you bitter in the process. Bitterness is not healthy, and it is much harder to dig up the roots of bitterness than it is to make a definitive decision to forgive and move on with your life. The upside of forgiveness is that, the more you practice forgiveness, the easier it becomes to do so.

The last step in the healing process is the letting go. Once you have acknowledged that there is some area in your life that needs healing, and you have gone through the process of working through it and forgiving whomever needs to be forgiven, it’s time to let it go. Women have a nasty habit of holding a grudge. I am just going to speak clear truth here. Men are much better about letting things go than us ladies. I will never understand what purpose there is in keeping a Rolodex of the wrongs that have been committed against you in life. It’s a fruitless effort. Instead of enjoying your life and all the things that God has blessed you with, you are sitting in a corner, sour and lonely and bitter because you just can’t seem to let go. Enough is enough! Here’s a little tough love for you: Do the hard work and LET IT GO. There is nothing worse than doing all the work of learning what needs to be learned and going through the process of forgiveness, only to file it away for a later date. That is clear proof that your work is not done and that you need to go back through the first two steps and stay there until you are fully able to let go and not look back. Period. I promise that, once you have really done the work, you will be happy to let it go. A sign that you have not done all the work that needs to be done is a clear inability to release that person or situation completely and move with your life. You want that wound to heal and become a scar. Scars don’t hurt anymore; they are monuments to the growth that you have achieved in life on your journey. As my mom says, if it still hurts, it’s still a wound. Scars are not something to be ashamed of, because they are reminders that you grew as a result of the experiences that you have been through. The result of a completed healing process is a scar. Might be a big one or a small one, but still a scar. In the journey of life, you are going to encounter pain and be wounded. But nothing is more satisfying than the moment you discover that your wound is a scar, and the pain that you once felt has resolved, allowing you to move forward and move on with your journey.  Don’t let those wounds fester and become infected and turn you bitter. Don’t let those wounds rob you of your joy and your peace. Don’t let your wounds be what holds you back from enjoying the present and all the beauty it can bring into your life. Don’t let your wounds hold you hostage in the past and keep you from really living in the moment. Don’t allow your wounds to keep you trapped in death, instead of embracing life. Don’t let your wounds have you walking around like the living dead. Let it go. Do all you can to heal from your past and then let it go. Leave the past in the past, and learn to live in the present. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself, for your loved ones, and for all the people you will encounter in your lifetime, however long or short it may be. Life is short; don’t waste it being a prisoner of the past. Healing is waiting for you.

Embrace the Journey

Three or four months ago, I noticed that the teenagers coming into the office were wearing these silicone bracelets with one white ball and one black ball. I originally blew it off as another teen trend, until I was introduced to them personally. I fell in love with the concept of the lokai bracelet as soon as I understood what it meant and where it came from. A gentleman had a life-changing experience in his college years when he found out that his grandfather was suffering from Alzheimer’s, and would have to helplessly watch his loved one deteriorate from such a sinister degenerative disease. In the midst of and because of that situation, he understood two things: (1) Life is a journey, not a destination; and (2) life is full of ups and downs, and it is up to us to find balance within ourselves in the midst of that. So he created a physical token to remind him of those things. He took water from Mount Everest, the highest point on earth, as a reminder that, when you are at the top, you must remember to stay humble. And then he took mud from the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the earth, and, incidentally, a desolate place, and that is a reminder to stay hopeful when you are feeling you’ve hit a low point.

Me being me, I immediately fell in love with the concept. Life is such an incredible journey. You meet people, you lose people. You have failures and successes along the way. You learn invaluable lessons, and you get knocked down a few times in the process. But it all serves a purpose, both good times and bad times. I attended a prayer breakfast yesterday, and one of the teaching points was that suffering has a purpose. We usually don’t see it that way when we are deep in the trenches of suffering. But the truth is that some of your greatest moments of growth have been birthed out of your greatest times of struggle and suffering. It’s in those life-changing moments – the loss of a loved one; the loss of a job; heartbreak from a relationship; an unexpected tragedy, that we learn the most. We learn about life, we learn about ourselves, but, most of all, we learn about the character of God. That’s why it’s so important to remember to hold on to hope when you hit a low in your life, when you encounter a valley experience in your life, because God promised that you will come through on the other side, and you will be better for it. Job said this when he was going through:

[Job 23:10 NKJV] But He knows the way that I take; [When] He has tested me; I shall come forth as gold.

The Bible is full of promises that we will not be overtaken by the hard times that life throws at us…

[Romans 5:1-5 NKJV] 1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only [that], but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

 

[Romans 8:28 NKJV] 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His] purpose.]

 

[James 1:2-4 NKJV] 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

At the same time, the high points in life are times to remember to be humble. It’s not a time to gloat, because not long before, you were at a low point yourself. It is in the times that you find yourself at a peak, doing well and feeling good about life, that you should take a moment to look back to someone else who is still pressing and speak life to them. Speak a word of encouragement and empowerment to them, so that they can draw strength from that and be able to press the rest of the way through their struggle.

[James 4:6, 10 NKJV] 6 But He gives more grace. Therefore, He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” … 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Everyone’s journey is different, because each person learns differently, and grows at different rates and in different ways. So it is important to honor your own journey, and not compare it to anyone else. But it is also important that you not judge the journey of others based on where you are in your own journey. It’s important to take ownership of your journey, to honor your energy, and embrace your purpose as it grows and matures in your journey. And, when you have learned the lesson and learned it well, make sure that you share your story with others so that they will see and know that where they are and the struggles they face are not unique to them and will not be the end of them. One of the most comforting things to hear when you are having a hard time is that someone sees you and they have been there and understand how you feel in that moment. Understand that sometimes it’s not saying that they will survive that is comforting and encouraging, but they are not alone in that struggle and that they are not out on that limb by themselves. Beloved, embrace the journey and the beautiful road that will lead you to your best self, and remember this: Life is a journey, not a destination.

 

[Hebrews 4:14-16 RSV] Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Live Intentionally – Cheers to 2016

We stand at the edge of the boundary between 2015 and 2016. Some countries have already entered 2016, and some are still waiting for it to “arrive.” All the same, we stand at the end and the beginning all at once. As 2015 winds down, it is often the practice of many to reflect on the lessons and blessings of the closing year.  Peaks and valleys that have taught us about life, about ourselves, and about the people in our lives. For me, it is so appropriate that the celebration of Kwanzaa ushers in the new year, helping those who celebrate to remember what is necessary for a community to thrive and be successful. These same principles operate in the faith community, along with various ethnic groups who do all they can to preserve the legacies and foundational history that makes them unique.

For me, Kwanzaa reminds me that we are all responsible to and for one another, as members of the human race and as members of the Body of Christ. Seven principles are presented over a week’s time that remind us that we are all connected, and that everything we do, big or small, has a direct or indirect effect on the members within our community. Unity, self-determination, collective work, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith all work together in each one of us, and then work together on a larger scale to make a community successful and connected deeply.

As we approach 2016, I pray that we consider how we can implement each of these foundational principles into our lives in such a way that they enhance the way we impact the communities to which we belong, be they physical communities, faith communities, or communities of common interest and investment. Let them spread to your inner circles of family and friends. Consider how these principles manifest in your life, and what you are doing to either contribute positive or negative energy in each of these areas.

Society wants you to fall into the trap of New Year’s Resolutions, that many make and few keep. A new year could be the beginning of a new season in your life, or the continuation of a current season. Whatever the case may be, I pray that you do more than simply resolve to do something different. I pray that you decide as a part of the journey of life to be and do better – be a better family member, a better friend, a better staff member/co-worker, a better human being. I pray that, as we embark on another year, that we don’t simply stumble into the next year, but we approach the new year with a renewed sense of belonging and responsibility for self that inspires us to dig deeper, shine brighter, love better, and live more aware that everything that we do affects someone or something else. Resolve the things that hinder your ability to contribute well to your community, and understand that doing that work is the first step in contributing. A whole you is the most important thing that you can give to your community, because anything you give will not be tainted with situations and emotions that have not be processed and put in their proper perspective. So, as we enter into another year, enter with the intention of being both an intentional Christ follower and a responsible human being. We have been given the ability and the capacity to do both and have them work in tandem.

From my heart and soul, have a blessed New Year and may 2016 be full of joy and light! Be open to the lessons and be grateful for each and every gift. Stay humble and honest in all that you say and do. And, above all, be authentic. It will be more well-received and respected than your best attempts at perfection.

 

Love and blessings in the new year!

 

[Philippians 3:12-14 ESV]  

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.