How to make peace with the pain

Last week, I shared a tiny piece of the complex puzzle of my childhood. It’s really hard to talk about these things publicly. I’ve held countless secrets for so many years because of shame.

But shame does not come from God.

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There’s also a fine line on which I’ve danced all these years. This line divides truth and consequences. I’ve been so afraid of what might happen if I started telling the truth, that I chose to suffer in silence.

It is difficult for me to speak my truth today. But I’m slowly beginning to unfold these layers because I know I have a message of hope to share with others that are hurting.

There is a way to make peace with your pain.

Take it to Jesus.

The first step is laying it all at the foot of the cross. He already knows your pain, but you have to get it out and lay it down. Open yourself before Him. It’s going to be unnerving, but it is necessary.

Accept yourself.

When you’ve emptied your pain before the Lord, you must come to the realization that this pain does not define you—unless you allow it to. I’ve often said many times to people that if anyone has plenty of excuses to not live right and do right, it’s me. But I choose to accept my past, and more importantly accept myself. I’m not flawless, but I am a child of God.

Love yourself.

And this is the hardest part. Isn’t it? When pain has clouded your self-perception for so long, you start believing the lies.

You aren’t good enough. Something must be wrong with you. You don’t deserve anything better than this.

Sis, please don’t keep entertaining these lies. They are from the pits of hell.

Forgive those who hurt you.

I have to be honest right now and tell you that forgiveness is a near-daily thing for me. Sometimes I think I’ve finally forgiven, but then something pops up and rips the scab off that old wound and I’m back to hurting again.

I know you’ve probably heard this a million times, but forgiveness is not for them. It’s for you. And the only way for you to make peace with the pain is to find a way to forgive. Sometimes only Jesus can help you reach a point of forgiveness.

Forgive yourself.

You know what? There have been so many times when I’ve looked in the mirror and hated myself. A week rarely goes by when I don’t have some negative thought about myself, for no good reason, other than it was burned into my mind years ago.

And I could beat myself up every day if I wanted to, for not doing more or trying harder. But the truth is, I’m doing all I know to do. Yes, I’ve said some things and done some things in the past that I’m not proud of. But if I want that pain to subside—heal, even—I must be willing to stop and forgive myself…for whatever.

A painful past cuts deep and often creates unending pain for a lifetime. How do you deal with your pain? How have you found a way to make peace with a painful past?

Sometimes we need quiet

This has been a fruitful week for me. I purposefully didn’t write anything here because I needed to quiet my heart.

My daily prayer the last few weeks is, “Lead me, Lord. Speak to me. Help me to be quiet enough to hear Your voice.

Quiet
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I often I ask God to speak to me. I wonder how many times He has, but I haven’t heard because I’ve been too busy.

I want to recognize when it’s time to slow down.

Breathe.

Be quiet.

During my devotion time this morning I read the story of when the Lord appeared to Elijah (1 Kings 19, NIV),

“…a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.

After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.

After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.

And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

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A gentle whisper.

That’s how God speaks most of the time. In the quiet. With a whisper.

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Sometimes we need quiet.

Quiet to feel God. Quiet to know Him. Quiet to hear Him.

How do you quiet yourself to hear from God? What do you do when the busy-ness of life overwhelms you and you feel like you can’t hear God’s voice?

5 More Ways to Quiet the Noise

You had a lot to say about quieting the noise last week. I enjoyed your thoughts and comments on how important you believe it is to find some quiet time, too.

I mined those comments and extracted these precious gems of wisdom for more ways we can quiet the noise.

Art journal 6-25-11 "Relax."  Photo of my art journal

1. Take a social media break. {Kelly’s suggestion} If I’m not careful, I get sucked into Twitter and Facebook. Before I realize it, an entire day has passed with little, or no, productivity on my part. Social media can be a good thing, but it can also become a time-waster. Taking that much-needed break isn’t all that easy. But listen to what Kelly said happened to her during her second week of taking a Twitter “fast” day: “…on the second Saturday I didn’t really touch my phone or computer at all. I was amazed at the breather it gave.

2. Go for a walk. {Rhoda’s suggestion} I love Rhoda’s suggestion! Step away from the noise–literally. Get outside and walk. Enjoy nature. Listen for God’s voice. Some of my best thinking (and praying!) is often done during my walks. From Rhoda’s comment, I believe the same holds true for her: “I think we do have so much going on that it is really good to think about making some quiet so we can hear from God…I like to…go for a walk…

3. Read a book. {Julie’s suggestion} If you’re anything like me, you think you don’t have time to read. Even if you find time, you haven’t read anything in so long, you wouldn’t even know where to begin. First, you do have time…if you’ll make the time. Second, ask your friends for book suggestions. If all else fails, get a sitter for your kids and head to the library. You’ll find tons of books to sift through…and lots of quiet!

4. Have a cup of tea or coffee. {Julie’s suggestion} Julie also offered the simple suggestion of a cup of tea or coffee. I absolutely adore this thought…mostly because I’m a coffee fanatic. I thought it fitting to reiterate her words, “…do something for you.”

5. Sit on the front porch swing. {BONUS suggestion} I have fond memories of my grandparents sitting on their front porch. Friends gathered ’round. My Maw-Maw offering steaming coffee in white coffee cups on her serving tray. Sugar? Cream? Then they’d swing and chat. About everything. About nothing. Not only do we need quiet moments for God-connecting, but we need moments of community-connecting, too.

How do you quiet the noise?

7 Ways to Quiet the Noise

Fact:

With so much ugly and hurt and busy-ness in this world, the noise becomes deafening.

If you’re like me, some days it all becomes too much. I need quiet. Stillness.

I need to hear from God.

Quiet time
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How to quiet the noise.

1. Turn off the TV. If you aren’t watching the TV, do you still keep it on for background noise? Turn it completely off. Even though you might not be actively watching it, you subconsciously soak in the clatter.

2. Turn off the computer. Or, at the very least, walk away from it. Spending just two hours away from your computer will clear your mind.

3. Turn off your cell phone. The distractions of phone calls, text messages, game notifications…it all gets quite noisy, doesn’t it? Being plugged in all the time drains your battery. Send a note (only if necessary) to let significant people you’ll be powering down for a few hours. (If you’re really brave, turn it off for a full day.)

4. Listen to praise/worship music. I don’t always like music, but there are times when it’s quiet and my mind is still busy. When I can’t focus, sometimes it helps to play music that helps usher me into the presence of God.

5. Steal away for prayer. There are moments when I just need to be alone with God. The noise chokes me. I go to my bedroom and shut the door. (My closed door signal my children that Momma’s praying and doesn’t want to be disturbed, unless it’s an emergency.) Some days it only takes 10-20 minutes to quiet the noise. Other times, I might spend an hour or two alone.

6. Start a journal. Write your prayers. Thoughts. Requests. Meditations. Write special scriptures that speak to your heart. The process of writing by hand will slow you down and break through the rush of noise.

7. Begin your day in the Word. God’s Word is the Bread of Life. Spending time feasting on it sets the pace for your day. Finding your hope and peace and strength in His Word stills the quiet like nothing else can.

You Are Not Alone

If you don’t remember anything else you hear or see today, I want you to remember this one thing.

You are not alone.

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It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. Spoken. Heard.

It doesn’t matter where you’ve been. How low. Rotten. Dirty.

Those hidden sins nobody knows about but you and God? They can be forgiven. Washed clean. White as snow.

That sorrow you’ve buried in your bones? Not wanting anyone to know about? It can be freed. Peace unleashed. Joy fulfilled.

But Hope…you don’t know what I’ve done. You don’t know where I’ve been. You. Don’t. Know.

You’re right. I don’t know.

God knows. He loves you still.

Let me share this: I’ve been in my own pits. Made countless mistakes. Been a terrible person.

And then I’d beat myself up. Refuse to believe there was anything good enough in me for God to love. But there was. He does.

It does not matter how horrible you think you are. Jesus loves you so much that He died on the cross for you. For those sins.

You are not alone.

Resting in grace

Today’s my first day back home from vacation. There’s some laundry waiting for the wash. Chicken thawing for dinner.

The pup’s snoozing.

Happiness is a Sunday evening nap on Momma's lap :)

The girl’s dancing and singing behind closed door.

The boy’s quietly pretend-playing with his Legos.

Life returns to “normal.” Schedules resume.

All’s well in my little neck of the woods today.

Too busy being depressed

I was talking with someone the other day about art and showing her some of my most recent pieces. This person has always been a particularly crafty person. She made a statement as she looked at a piece of my art that made me take a step back to reflect on my own life. She told me (paraphrasing):

“I don’t have time to enjoy my crafts because I’m too busy being depressed.”

Too busy being depressed.

Haven’t we all been there at some point in our lives?

Last year I hit an all-time low. I was settled into my (temporary) life. I loved my church. My children and I had found our niche. I felt like I finally belonged.

And then we had to move. Again.

I was miserable. I hated it. I became terribly depressed.

There were days when I couldn’t even drag myself out of the bed. My husband had to look after our children.

I couldn’t see anything good because I didn’t want to see anything good.

I missed “home” and wanted to go back.

Like the children of Israel.

Moses was leading them, by the grace of God, to their promised land. They grumbled, griped, and complained the entire time.

Their shoes never worn out. But they griped.

They always had food to eat. “Take us back to Egypt!” they whined.

God constantly provided; He had a plan in motion. “We’d have been better off slaves to Egyptians, than dying in this desert!”

They just couldn’t see the big picture.

They stopped trusting God.

I’m so thankful God brought me out of my desert of depression. But how many of us are still wandering through that thick, heavy, unbearable cloud of darkness, dying for a drink of water?

Are you too busy being depressed to see the hand of God?

Can you trust Him again, even though you don’t have all the answers?

Give your worries to Him. Let Him lead you to higher ground.

lily
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“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?”

{Matthew 6:28-30, NLT}

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