Own your story.

I’ve walked this sidewalk weekly for almost 9 month now. Tonight as I walked down this familiar path, it hit me just how far I’ve come. How far we’ve come. And also how I wish I had made this a habit years ago. Which is why I share with you right now.

I’ve found oftentimes the “altar” at which we bring my stuff to Jesus for me doesn’t look like the front row at a church service. Instead it looks a lot like a private little room with a leather couch and my counselor directly in front of me.

Being totally honest, breaking down walls, bringing it ALL. Healing happening in layers, each time.

Truth is I sometimes leave feeling more broken than when I’d arrived. Wondering if I’d ever find peace, ever work out all my “junk”. I never regret it though, even if the pain feels all encompassing and unbearable. Avoiding it hasn’t changed this for me. I’m learning facing it head on is transforming my life. The way I live and love.

I grew up “in the church” where people went again and again to the altar, “bringing it all”. I do believe God could instantly heal – physically, mentally and emotionally. But I also know that it’s not everyone’s story.

And that more often than not we need time to really work through whatever “it” is. That healing is a journey, a process and not always instantaneous.

I grew up learning all the “right” responses and behaviors. I memorized the scriptures. Spouted off shitty Christian clichés, without even thinking about where they came from, in response to other’s suffering and pain.

I believed I was failing/sinning when my life wasn’t going as planned. I strived for perfection yet failed always.

And then I was sexually abused as a teenager. This was my first of many things in life that really challenged what I’d been taught about God and suffering, and what it means when bad things happened to Christians. What I had learned deeply messed me up. I didn’t even know how to process trauma.

Fast forward to my parents sending me to do a Discipleship Training School at 18-years-old. I meet Jesus personally – the Jesus who wept. Who got angry. The Jesus who didn’t cause my pain, instead He wept WITH me. Jesus who FELT. My life forever changed, but it didn’t mean my thought patterns and years of belief systems instantly changed.

It’s taking {years} of breaking it all down, stripping it away. Learning who God really is versus who we’ve made Him to be.

I haven’t arrived in this perfect place of complete wholeness. I believe that like so many things in life “it’s a journey, not a destination”.

Things in life will trigger grief, anger, sorrow, etc. New life experiences good, bad and maybe even the unimaginable may happen.

We will struggle again and again and again… but it is what happens after those moments that shape us. Will we shut down, or deny our feelings, or build walls, or continue to be reactionary without digging deeper and asking the hard questions… or wrap up our pain with pretty packaging and a shiny bow and pretend.

OR will we face it all – the pain, the shame, the sorrow, the questions…

My challenge for you is this:

Take ONE hour a week or biweekly. Process through whatever it is you need to.

Let your pride go. (Or maybe like me it isn’t pride, it’s fear of pain as you process – in that case do it scared. Get ready for messy but get ready for healing too).

Let the fact that counseling didn’t work for {insert person}, go.

Let fear of man, go.

Let this shitty, messed up theology that Christians shouldn’t be in such states, go.

Reality is, we face hard things, we need to process hard things, not deny them.

Do it with Jesus, yes of course, and a counselor.

I also suggest reading Daring Greatly and Rising Strong by Brené Brown. Here is something that I found profound (I literally have most of her words underlined!)

“The Latin word for integrate is intergrare which means”to make whole”… If integrate means “to make whole”, then its opposite to fracture, disown, detach, or separate. I think many of us move through the world feeling this way. The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole and more acceptable, but our wholeness – even our wholeheartedness – depends on the integration of all of our experiences, including the falls.”

I’m knee deep in owning my story, past and present. It’s simultaneously painful and freeing. It’s hard digging deep, but it’s freeing getting to the roots. It’s freeing learning how to healthily process and move forward without denial or effed up belief systems that tell us feeling anything but happiness isn’t of the Lord.

You want to truly move forward? Own your story.

You want to relate to your loved ones or the world in a real way that changes lives? Own your story.

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