To transform character and emotionally grow up and heal, we need a loving, securely attached relationship to God and also to a few others. (And not always in that order!)
We were created for relationship.
When we are wounded in relationship, it most often takes relationships in which to heal in. And God shows up in those relationships.
Changing, growing and healing past hurts is hard. And if you happen to know a little about brain science, when our brains have been hard wired to perform or survive within difficulties from a young age, sheer will power and discipline to make healthy behavior changes isn’t usually sustainable long term.
I’m referring to unhealed wounds, unhealed trauma, triggers and dysfunctional attachment patterns we can develop from the time we begin to exist. Since we live in a fallen world, the likelihood of us experiencing pain from the world is 100%. Healing from that pain isn’t always 100%. So, we can carry forward coping mechanisms, distorted beliefs, and even a deeply wounded younger version of ourselves protecting fragmented pieces of our very soul, and most of the time we aren’t even aware of any of this. It just feels ‘normal’ to run, to keep distance from others, to have the right to be offended and stay offended, or to dismiss that emotional health, healing and maturity is even a ‘thing’ we may need.
We may succeed for a while when we mask or modify certain behaviors and reactions to more healthy ones, but are we really transformed from the inside out by performing changes by sheer will?
Yet when we don’t know how to make improvements to deeply rooted dysfunctional emotional systems, the changes are uncomfortable, scary and we have no idea how to really change unhealthy patterns for the better.
Willpower has little to no effect on changing our character.
To transform character and emotionally grow up and heal, we need a loving, securely attached relationship to God and also to a few others. (And not always in that order!) We were created for relationship. When we are wounded in relationship, it most often takes relationships in which to heal in. And God shows up in those relationships.
I have learned from experience that in order to make healthy steps towards emotional health and healing, we need healthy, safe, relationships in our lives on a regular basis in which to form healthy attachments with. People who are glad to be with us on our own journey as we grow and build belonging together. Our brain learns and heals really well in high joy environments.
Going after emotional health and healing is a slow build. It’s not fast and we want fast because we want results. Fast. And we want any pain we are experiencing to STOP! NOW! Healing isn’t instant and the gratification is certainly often delayed.
Healing is a process. It was a process to learn to emotionally limp with unhealed wounds and survive any resulting trauma. And limping emotionally is hard, and most of the time we don’t even realize we’re limping because that’s just how we have learned to emotionally walk. It is a process to become insecurely attached, to distance ourselves from others, or to react from fear or shame to life. And, it’s a process to heal all of that.
Healing is painful. But so are unhealed wounds, unhealed trauma, and the resulting dysfunction that plays out over and over throughout our lives.
Small wins over time equals transformation and healing. With God and with others. This is the way.
So I say, choose your hard.
The hard of making changes, of growing, healing, or…
the hard of continuing to do the things that perpetuate pain.
Pain that hurts you and the ones around you.
It’s going to be hard either way.
Healing is a narrow, winding path (a winding path just like the path of woundedness, trauma and dysfunction) and doing the work to heal isn’t sexy but the wins are fire and it doesn’t have to be done alone. In fact, it can’t be done alone.
Healing, growth and maturity take a commitment. There, I said it. Bleh. Commitment. But please, before this over used word turns anyone off, let’s ask ourselves what we are committed to. Staying the same? Doing the same things we have always done because it is comfortable and known? Or would we rather commit to making sustainable, slow and steady changes that lead to a higher quality of emotional health and healthy relationships with others, knowing these initial steps towards emotional health and healing can be and often are painful, awkward, scary and oh-so-hard. And also knowing if we stay the same and choose familiarity and comfort, aren’t we still choosing painful, awkward, scary and hard when it comes to a lack of emotional capacity and health? Let’s not forget that we know how to navigate the familiar that we’ve always known. Our brain knows how to do what it has always done, even if it is unhealthy. Even if it leads to painful processes and outcomes.
I know for me, the pain of a lack of emotional health became far more painful than the pain of staying the same. I was ready to train. I wanted to work out my brain and build new brain ‘muscles’ so I could learn not only to do hard things emotionally, but how to do them well. It’s like a training circuit for my brain to learn how to ask others for what I need instead of assuming they should just know.
To learn how to forgive someone who did really hurtful, unfair things. To forgive them and mean it.
To stop enabling toxic, emotionally unsafe behavior from others and learn to set boundaries.
To lovingly share an offense I have with someone instead of with everyone else except whom I have the offense with. And actually be curious enough to hear their side and honor their truth in the situation, even if I don’t agree with it.
To start taking responsibility for my reactions and decisions up to today, despite what others contributed or not.
To examine any unrealistic expectations I may have that set me up for disappointment and instead to set gold standards for my life instead of entitled expectations.
To stop believing the crap I tell myself about myself and tell myself truth instead so I invest in my true identity.
To see that others’ awkward or hurtful behavior is far more about them than it is about me and not to take it personally, and have a heart posture to graciously understand they have their own stuff they are dealing with far more than they are reacting to me.
To dive deep into my triggers to identify the root as well as seek healing so I’m able to respond well while actually feeling triggered, versus reacting in a passive aggressive way, shutting down or manipulating to get my needs met.
And I haven’t been doing all this alone. I’ve had some great women who wanted to go on this journey for themselves, together, the three of us. And we have been doing it ever since, intentionally, and with Jesus walking right beside us, meeting us in the dark places, celebrating our victories big and small, and oh so very glad to be with us in every bit of it!
I think this is loving myself and becoming an emotionally safe person to love others well and in many ways, modeling the way Jesus loved. It’s not only a gift to myself, it’s a gift to others as well.
I’m so here for that. All of it. So here for you and your own healing journey and choosing your hard, whatever that looks like for you.
Peace, love and joy…