It’s been a while since I have posted anything. It can be very hard to talk about paintings you haven’t painted or photographs that aren’t happening. The original purpose of this blog was to talk about the things I loved as expressed through my art. So when I felt a stirring in my spirit to write about something deeply personal that touches on my faith and my own hidden vulnerability it wasn’t a “woo hoo!” moment. It was a “God this is going to hurt”. I have spent days battling the foolishness of doing this, yet the stirring in my heart hasn’t gone away and here I am writing a post about a subject that isn’t too pretty.
I spent many years thinking that my happiness was dependant on avoiding the painful and hiding the “unpresentable” (you know the bits that others reject). When I was a child finding a way to avoid the scary, hurtful reality was, for me, necessary. I shut myself away and avoided the truth of my life as it lay before me. I dissociated myself from reality. However, as years past and I got older, the long-term effect was a buildup of hidden hurt eating away at my soul. By aged 13 I lived with a deep heaviness and a longing to not live. Time did not heal it, I just got better at not showing it. In fact it just got worse, the pain of living increased, the deep sorrow of my heart weighed me down, I lost all hope and purpose for life. I was a Christian, this sort of thing is not appropriate to being a true Christian; well not according to the religious rules I was told and inflicted on myself. I was supposed to have joy, yet I felt depressed; I was supposed to have abundant life, yet I wanted to shut down; I was supposed to be found, yet I was lost. I absolutely despised myself. I would have moments where the cracks would show, but I would ‘recover’ and then make sure I avoided the ‘triggers’. However, the more I avoided facing the pain and hid away my brokenness the worse I seemed to get. I was emotionally out of control, I had angry outburst, I stopped sleeping at night and then couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I was virtually bed-ridden. I was exhausted, and the emotional pain I was enduring became excruciating! I was in a mess; my life was an absolute mess. My marriage and my then two children were suffering. I had to admit to myself I was in need of help.
Ben and I agreed to look for a Christian counselor. I was vulnerable and knew that telling most of those around me about my brokenness wouldn’t be received well. Because of this, we decided to keep my seeing a counselor confidential; only telling people deemed safe. I found this time very lonely and painful. I dreaded each counseling session. My soul seemed to be an endless pit of darkness and brokenness. For a while I appeared to get worse rather than better. The fact I was so ill was a blessing in disguise, cause no matter how much I wanted to avoid each session and the pain, I knew the only way I could get better was to go ‘through’ the pain. One year turned into two and then slowly became three. The expense of it stressed me, but Ben would remind me that it was an investment in my life and our family.
The truth be told my journey of healing is really a love story. You see at each session I discovered a treasure about my Christian faith that I didn’t know. For instance, the power of grace and its ability to help me overcome. No matter how much I failed or did wrong, God would continue to love and forgive me. I discovered that He wasn’t interested in me coming to Him perfect, but He wanted me just as I was; broken. Every time I exchanged my brokenness with Him and let Him touch me, He replaced my pain with His love and healing. I learnt about what it meant to be loved unconditionally, what it meant to be treasured. In learning of God’s forgiveness for me, I discovered the power of forgiving others. I learnt to say no to others even though I knew it meant I would be rejected and judged. I had to make difficult decisions like putting in boundaries and walking away from abusive, destructive relationships. Each step of faith and obedience I took, God backed it up with blessings.
My only regret is that I didn’t face the pain earlier, that I didn’t abandon my pride, self-sufficiency and fear of others. While I may have some regret, I am not so foolish to think that all is lost. After all maybe I needed the courage that maturity brings, maybe I needed the big incentive such as my kids to face my brokenness, who knows. What I do know is by facing the pain and my brokenness I discovered a wholeness I didn’t even know existed. I found a love that was beyond my imagination. For the first time in a very long time I did things like laughed, I felt joy, I gained a reason for living, a sense of dignity about myself, I valued this life that God had given me. Not a day goes by where I am not grateful for God’s healing love. The life I now live still has sadness in it, moments of struggle; those things come with living in a broken world. But every-time I am willing to face the pain and work through it, I discover yet again the joy of living an abundant life!