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.