The loss of a loved one, a child goes astray or an unexpected divorce can throw the heart into depths of pain you didn’t know were possible. Depending on how you were taught to handle emotional pain as a child; you can go into several directions when tragedy strikes. Those that were taught to be strong as kids will suck it up and charge ahead making the best of the situation. The strong will simply swallow, put up their guards, and cry in secret. Those who were allowed to express their feeling are more apt to go into heavy periods of grief or lay the blame on the deserving party, which, sometimes, they feel is themselves. For me, we were taught to be strong, suck it up and move past it; we were taught, “Time will heal all wounds.”
Yea right, that sounds good but there is so much more to that statement. Time is a gift. What we choose to do with it is fully our responsibility. We can use time to reflect and search our heart or we can use time to wallow in our pain and make excuses for our circumstances. When struggling to cope we can ignore the situation or the person and move on. “Time” does not heal all wounds; time and effort do. Time is given to you, but you must choose to do the hard work. You must choose to see how you ended up in the predicament while allowing your heart to understand the other party’s point of view. You can choose to do the hard work and use time to heal but sometimes that is not the easiest thing to do depending on the depth of pain and your style of coping.
About nine years ago life began to throw me so much pain I was left numb and unsure of how to move forward. During this season I found myself wounded, facing divorce and all the drama that goes along with it. Coming from a background of strong people, I tried my best to suck it up and move on, but the blows keep coming and coming. I was a hot mess and my armor had been hit so many times I was finding it difficult to be the strong, controlled woman I had always known.
In this season I was faced with utter defeat on several levels and was spiraling out of control daily as life, as I knew it, fell apart. Suddenly, I found myself in a whirlwind of emotions I was ill-equipped to handle. I had prayed and fasted my way through several difficult moments, which included the death of my mother. These last series of events were more than my, “be strong and suck it up” training could handle, or was it. Was I suddenly becoming weak or was God releasing the sword from my hand and calling me deeper? Was he calling me into a season of rest where He would fight for me? This would require my own personal death. A death to a way of living and coping that was engrafted in me. God in all his greatness had watched me war, make bad decisions, and try to use scripture to resolve them. He watched me protect myself through battle from the vulnerability of surrender and now he was calling me higher. He was calling me to rest.
Here I was faced with the decision of what to do with the time that had been given to me. Do I continue to war or do I fearfully and hesitantly allow myself to fall apart unsure if God would catch me? In this moment I was faced with going deeper, doing the hard work, and allowing God to unravel my mess. Up until this point I thought I was an A+ warrior. I had fought, battled and won many wars so surely why stop now? “I got this.” I thought “Just keep fighting.”, but my soul was crying out for rest. So through the difficulty I chose to do the hard work and allow God to fight for me and teach me a new level of His character, a new way of fighting I knew nothing of. Yes, the previous seasons of battle were real and often produced victory but this last battle had to be fought with a new strategy, a new method of war, which required me to rest. I remember feeling as if I was a lazy Christian or a sinner because I was not putting forth my usual efforts. I must say my mind was ready to war but my soul was shouting “Glory Hallelujah!” for every second of rest it had. So I commenced to begin the journey of surrender, death and rest. Little did I know what was to come?
For years layer-by-layer God would constantly remind me to rest, stop battling, and trust Him. I don’t know about you, but for me that sounded easy, but it was like pulling teeth without painkillers. I simply did not know what rest was or how to posses it. All I knew was one method of war and it was engrafted in me. God knew if I continued on the path I was on it would not be well with me. He longingly presented the choice before me and I chose the unfamiliar.
Here I am nine years later and I feel I have entered into God’s rest. I’ll spare you the details on how difficult that was and why it took so long. Let’s just say God went in with a scalpel and scrapped until every residue of my old way of thinking was annihilated. He has opened up my mind and heart to receive His rest and love on a different level. I’ve learned that although God is the same yesterday, today and forever, those familiarities are multifaceted.
There are levels and dimensions to God and each setback and seeming defeat is an opportunity to learn a new aspect of who He is. I pray that when you face life’s struggles you will choose to go down the more challenging road of discovery. In the beginning it may seem difficult but the further you go the more you will realize He is right there with you. In the end you will come out changed. You will be made brand new.
Author: Petrina Milan