I’ve been fearful of writing for a while. I’ve started writing but never finished. Before I could finish processing on paper, I would close the journal or laptop- fearful of finishing. I’ve been fearful of writing and terrified of sharing.
I’ve kept what I could to myself, to my fiance, or to our close family and friends. I believe that is how it should have been for the last year- private, between me and God and our closest people- people that would encourage, push, and challenge. I am thankful for this time.
While I am deeply thankful for this past year and the amount of healing that has taken place, I feel this burden from the Lord that it is time to share. No this doesn’t mean share only through social media or blogs- that is simply one small way- but to share with those around me, those hurting, those looking and needing hope. After all, this is my testimony. The hurt, the grief, the brokenness is a key part in my story- but it doesn’t end there and I would never want it to.
Talking about the healing part may seem easy, to many, actually most- that may seem like the easy part, the part everyone should want to share. It’s normal to hide our brokenness but to boast in our healing, right?
Maybe that is easy for some, but I would guess for most, especially me, that was the hardest. My favorite saying is that I believe the healing pain is far greater than the injury pain most of the time. When I first heard that, I thought to myself- “Yeah right, no way the pain hurts more than this.”
But as I chose to walk in healing and freedom. As I came to terms that healing may begin naturally, it continues and ends with a choice, our choice- it is something I feel called to share.
This Holiday season is what I have been telling myself is the first Holiday in three years that I have been on “this side of freedom”. While it doesn’t always feel like I am “on this side of freedom”, the more I speak it, the more I believe it, the more it becomes a part of me.
I was nervous going in to it. I’ve learned more and more since Chad’s death the difficulty that the Holiday’s bring. Whether it’s a loss of relationship, a person, a job, a family, etc- whatever it is, it always seems to bring out emotions of grief, pain, and loss for many.
As we step away from our normal routine of life, as family’s come together, as traditions continue- we feel the sting of what was lost. We feel the pain of what is missing. We feel the sting of death, the loss of opportunity, the brokenness of families, and the ache of wondering how things ended up this way.
There are questions, there are internal battles, there are tears, there are times of solitude and loneliness. There are moments of joy, of celebration, of thankfulness of our Savior coming as a sweet baby boy only to one day die on a cross to save us.
I’ll be honest when I say, it can be draining. There are countless people to account for, there is a battle between choosing rest, freedom, and time to process what you need to process, and a number of feelings to take care of. There are questions of what is honoring, what is respectful, what is healing, and what is hurtful. There is freedom for moving forward, there is pain and guilt in moving forward. There is freedom in choosing to walk in the healing, there is pain in choosing to walk in the healing.
It’s a battle, a tiring, exhausting, battle of the mind that often times can leave us weak and wondering “Where did the Holiday even go?”, “Why am I more tired then when the break even started?”, and “Where do I go from here?”.
I feel this pain and I see this pain as I scroll down my feeds and see posts of longing, of loss, of hope for a new year. I feel this pain as I sit with others who have lost, who are hurting, who are searching.
As I have felt all of the above this Holiday season, I find myself thankful for the friends and family the Lord has placed in my life. I am thankful for a fiancé who asks questions, who does his best to understand. I am thankful for a fiancé who pushes me to freedom, not for his own agenda but for the sake of the Kingdom. I am thankful for a family that allows me to grieve, to laugh, to be who I am, exactly where I am. I am thankful for friends who let me share where I am at, who show me Jesus in meeting me where I am- asking for nothing in return.
I often times ask myself, why I am so fearful of sharing the side of healing. To be bluntly honest, I fear it because I let pain and brokenness be an identity that was terrifying to shake. I allowed myself to believe that brokenness was all that I was going to feel, that pain was going to weigh me down for the rest of my life. I let it become a core piece of who I was.
Shaking such key piece of my identity led to a whole new life, a whole new world I was fearful of stepping in to. I knew it was going to be hard work, I knew it was going to be a battle- after all, isn’t an identity of brokenness one that Satan wants us to carry, to have?
I feared what others would think, I feared what others would feel, I feared how others would respond. I feared losing people, I feared the guilt that would come with it, I feared the changes that I would begin to see.
As I worked for months and months in therapy the first 5 months of 2017 on healing, choosing how to take care of myself, choosing to put guilt aside and step in to healing, choosing to find my way back to God, choosing to push myself forward- it was hard. Excruciatingly hard.
There were moments I found myself back on my knees, crying out to God- begging Him to take the pain away, there were moments I found myself angry at God for the pain I had faced the last few years, there were moments I became weak in the knees, collapsing into the arms of my fiancé- fearful he would be taken, grieving of the losses I was experiencing.
I battled guilt like I never thought existed- a crippling, anxiety-filled guilt as a new step of freedom approached.
I felt the sting of death, the pain of being physically taken advantaged of, the guilt of moving forward, the ache of loss in several different forms.
And while this was a battle the past year, and is still a current one in life, it all came flooding back during these precious days of rest, family, and Christmas.
Driving back to my house, on the 23rd- the 3 year anniversary of Chad’s death, and grasping the precious moments of alone time I had. I put on a few of my favorite worship songs and let the Lord have it.
I let the Lord have my brokenness, I let Him have the memories- the good and the bad, I let Him have the love, the guilt, the joy. I felt a strong sense of emotions, this crippling weight of brokenness again. It was a new Holiday season for me, carrying all that I mentioned above, and more.
As I felt the brokenness on that car ride home, so strong- I let myself cry like I hadn’t cried in awhile. I could picture Chad’s casket, I replayed memories with Chad, I felt the sting of death- and I let myself feel it.
I pictured myself broken, gasping for air on the bathroom floor the night of the 23rd three years ago, I felt the ache- the physical ache in my body all over again. I felt the pain of the assault, the brokenness it left me with. I didn’t want to feel it, I was scared to feel it all over again- but I sure am glad I did.
As I began to cry, I threw up one hand driving down the interstate as I played the song “King of My Heart”. I cried and ached as I sang the words, “You are Good”. As I sang them over and over again, the Lord revealed himself to me- He showed Himself to me.
My thoughts began to transform from thoughts of pain and brokenness to thoughts of amazement and thankfulness. I remembered all of those moments, I let them flash through my mind and the ask I said each word- “You are Good”- the Lord took the pain and reminded me of where I am, of where He has called me.
My mind kept revealing these thoughts, emotions, and memories of the pain- those didn’t stop- but the Lord entered in and everything changed. I began to see those moments and feel this ache of thankfulness, of praise, of something that is hard to describe. I imagined those moments and cried in amazement at the healing God has brought in my life, at the people He has surrounded me with, at the love He has given me.
I sat there in that moment and began to simply agree with God. I began to agree with my part in His story, I began to agree with where He had me, I began to agree with the healing, the freedom, THE calling He has called me to. I began to agree with the Lord that my story is not A story of brokenness, of grief- but it is a story of healing, of JESUS.
I began to agree that the Lord came when I asked Him to, that He showed up, that he has healed and that He is continuing to heal, that He is stamping each page with His name, His glory, His freedom.
While the Holiday season can bring so much heartache- I believe it brings a time for us to perfectly see the beauty of God. I believe it allows time for us to rest, to feel, to process, to grieve, to heal. It brings back memories, heartache, and pain.
But while it brings all of this, it brings a grace-filled push for us to step in to God’s freedom and healing in our lives- if we allow it. It allows us to remember the pain, the loss, the circumstances, the heartbreak. It simply depends on what we do with this time and how we allow the Lord to enter in to this time.
While I know Holiday’s may always be hard, I want to be someone that agrees with the Lord in this time. I want to feel my story, I want to process my story, and I want to accept that the Lord has answered my calls of healing and freedom- I want to agree with the Lord that He came, that He showed up.
I don’t want to run from the Holiday’s or allow the heartache of chapters of my story consume me and control me. I want to allow the Lord to enter in, knowing the pain will still be felt, but allow Him to enter in- allow him to come.
I want to feel the aches but feel the bursting ache inside of me of the Lord’s faithfulness more. I want to feel the sting of the pain but feel the joy that only the Lord can give. I want to remember the heartaches of my story to receive the graceful push of freedom that this time of rest and remembrance allows me to have.
I want to run into the Holidays or the difficult milestones excited that I am going to be brought to my knees in awe of His stamps across each page of my story proclaiming “Made a way where there was no way!”.
I want to feel the sting of what I have been freed from so I can feel the victory in what I have been freedom to and it just so happens that the Holidays creates perfect space for me to this.
Here’s to accepting the Holidays and all of the aches, the joy, the stings, the healing, the guilt, the confusion, the questioning, the freedom, the grace, the time, and all of the beauty that come with it.