Recently I had something happen in my life that shook me to my core.
Normally this type of feeling is spurred on by something happening outside of my control (c’mon ladies…you can nod here), or when I am incapable of understanding something that takes time to process. It usually involves me processing my faith again at another level, and sometimes it can be pain-inducing. I can only count on one hand the number of times I’ve been shaken to my core, but it seems to be happening a lot more lately.
Since last fall’s private retreat, I’ve been on a healing journey with Christ, and He is walking me through some incredibly painful memories, for the purpose of joy and healing, but also to address my issue with lack of trust in Him in certain areas. And I only have a few sisters in Christ I know of, who welcome these moments of healing and pain, to get to the other side. I’m not sure we wake up every morning saying, “Bring on the pain!” We just pray, “Bring on the day, and whatever that means, I’m willing to walk beside you still…”
Being in a stepfamily, there are many opportunities for miscommunication, feelings being hurt, unintentional heartache, and hurt emotions. I have two stepdaughters. Both girls are in their teens, are progressing in school and their goals, and we talk about everything under the sun. Normally…
Somehow in the commotion of life, I was out of the loop on a planned event that was coming up for them. It’s not uncommon. Communication with exes aren’t always the best. And we’re all human. But once the event was revealed, I had another obligation the same night and I was unable to attend the event with them. My issue wasn’t only NOT being able to attend the important event with them, it was how Satan twisted my unavailability to go (and the lack of communication) right to my core lie:
That I don’t matter.
I can’t explain how my emotions looked on the surface, but if you have ever seen a two year old’s drawing with no consistency whatsoever, you can imagine how my feelings were that evening. Not being included on the invite wasn’t the issue. It was how I slowly got the time and date of the event, from people who weren’t family, and from an email that wasn’t sent to me.
I wasn’t even included.
And if you’re a stepparent who cares deeply about the children you’ve grown to love, you want to be present for as much as possible. Granted there will be times you can’t be, and the kids don’t hold things like that over your head especially when you do attend things with them. You are putting your time and money into them, even when it’s not received or cared about. It’s for the greater good, that someday because of something you’ve done/said/contributed to/prayed about/etc., you have made an impact in their life and it’s going to MATTER! Darn, there’s that word again.
I don’t know how many people struggle with the negative self-talk that seems to plague so many of us. But for those of you who are aware of it, the issue becomes when the emotions rise, there’s no way out of the situation, and we just have to roll with it, that we are pushed into the arena of faith. It wasn’t my first instinct this time. Lately, I’ve been progressing toward a direction where the moment that initial anger begins to rise, Christ stops it, I calm down, and choose another route. But the other evening sent me to the dark place.
The place where all I have around me are hurtful words, hateful stares, and a crooked smile from the one who loves every minute she gets to cause me pain. And I camped there for a bit. I couldn’t process. I couldn’t even hold my hurt back. I blew up and said stupid remarks that reflected my hurt but came across as attacking words. I blamed, and I raised my voice. My family left the house, and I folded laundry. And then my night began with my planned event that took me from being with the rest of my family. And as I stood there, putting out food for my guests, I held back tears and started praying. I have learned that when my emotions get out of control, the best thing to do is take all of it to God. Holding back from Him was only going to hurt me more.
So I was honest with Him. I told Him that I was pissed. That I couldn’t believe that this far into our marriage, that something so little could set me off just right, that I wasn’t able to define the actual hurt, and that I was upset about something out of my control- which is exactly where HE wants me to be. And then I decided to just let Him take it. The hurt, the lie, the anger. And I proceeded to have a fantastic evening. Instead of festering on the hurt and heartache, I was able to hand it over to the One who died for all of this crazy stupidity anyway.
I have two lessons learned from this:
ONE: Realize what is really necessary.
A girlfriend of mine said earlier this week in a prayer meeting that after her mother passed, it gave her a perspective of life, and that a lot of things we prioritize sometimes aren’t really necessary. Many things don’t really matter other than the time spent with people. And I was able to witness the truth of her words the very next day. In the scope of life, one instance of being passed over wasn’t going to define me, or make me feel inadequate in a marriage that I know I am very well loved in. One instance of not being included didn’t mean that my stepdaughters didn’t want me there, or that the miscommunication was intentional. If I let Satan win that day, I would’ve believed all of that.
TWO: My reaction matters.
Emotions fluctuate. This event was a reminder that sometimes in life, things are beyond my control, and the mark of a Christian is continuing to love through pain, and letting go so God can handle it. How does my reaction define my heart’s stance on whether or not I am willing to let Christ handle something? Do I trust God to handle my broken heart? Do I allow Him to have control when I feel so out of control?
I think it’s important to realize that life triggers SO MANY DIFFERENT EMOTIONS. We tend to realize the bad ones because they have an effect on those around us. There’s always forgiveness, there’s always grace, and there’s always communication that needs to take place so hurting hearts don’t continue to hurt other hearts. But there’s that first step of admitting it too.
It’s a beautiful thing to ask God to help us be aware of our emotions, and what sets them off, so we can go to Him to help us handle them. He gets it. He’s taken on human flesh so He could experience the pain and heartache that He died for. God knows the pain that we cause each other, intentionally and unintentionally. It’s why He came to Earth to die and be resurrected so we could have hope to move past the heartache and hurt.
My cousin once put the crux of the Crucifixion into perspective for me by saying, “Grace, He hung on the cross and bore the sins of the person who was murdered and the murderer, the woman neglected and the adulteress, the person being raped, and the rapist…” We tend to see things from a judgemental perspective, but the truth is that hurting people hurt people. Are there victims in situations? Absolutely. But acknowledging a hurt, and forgiving it gives us the perspective of Christ. Hurt happens. Sometimes intentionally and other times unintentionally. Either way, we must respond the same. He died so we could provide the grace to each other. This life is not all there is. There is much more planned, and much more to come. Holding onto hurts will just prevent the growth He is trying to accomplish in us.
This week, we celebrate the life of Jesus, our Lord who took on every painful moment that has happened, IS happening, and WILL HAPPEN. He entered into humanity to conquer death and provide LIFE to the fullest. The same God who walked the Israelites through the desert and provided for them in their impatience and distrust, is the same God who listens to my anger prayers and my cry for stability when my emotions take over. I was shaken to the core by something so menial, yet HUGE to me, because of my healing journey. I choose to forgive, to hand it over to Christ, and let Him dispose of it for me.
He really is LOVE. He really is GRACE. He really is FORGIVENESS. And He really is RISEN!!