“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2
Inside this skin there is a great deal that goes on. Emotions, thoughts, feelings, memories, body reactions… it’s a busy world, inside ourselves. And so many times we attempt to control these things. We don’t want to feel bad, or remember this or that, or go through one more bout of tears over the same old gnawing pain. And yet we do…
And it’s hard to feel like our internal world is out of our control. If we could control anything, certainly we should be able to control our own internal banter, right?
The truth is, sometimes emotions and thoughts come upon us when we are least expecting it! They pop in and we want to send them right back out! Sometimes we even engage in some pretty extreme behaviors to get them to go away. Things like drinking, over eating, using drugs, cutting ourselves, shopping ourselves bankrupt – pick your poison, whatever it may be. But these things rarely work, if they work at all. The feelings, thoughts, emotions, and memories tend to come back even stronger, this time with shame attached, and we need more of this or that to help ourselves escape.
Why do we do these things?
Why do we take our pain and then drag ourselves through suffering while trying to avoid feeling anything at all?
At the core, I believe we are afraid. Fearful of thoughts, memories, feelings, and emotions that make us feel downright awful. But I want to share some good news with you, and some bad news depending on how you see it: there is a way out, and the way out is through.
You must be willing to walk through these thoughts, feelings, memories, and emotions. To feel them and accept them without judging or shaming yourself. Part of the through process also involves forgiveness of yourself and others. And you may be thinking, “I can’t.” And this may be true. But with Christ you can. Just as He walked with each and every one who came before us, He walks with us too. He will not make you face these internal demons alone. He is on your side.
So how do you begin to walk through the pain?
You decide that you will choose to notice it. That you will choose to acknowledge it exists. That you will begin to believe that these things that lie internal will not overwhelm you. That they are like waves which rise and fall. That the bad feeling won’t last forever and that with Christ the waters will not swallow you up.
If it is necessary, you decide that you will seek counsel from a professional counselor, or pastor, or close friend. When these things have been pent-up, and addictions attach themselves with shame, we often need someone to help lead us through a new way of processing. Someone who can see what is going on from an outside viewpoint. Someone outside our skin to help us process and understand. Someone who can help us begin to break through the shame and pain that binds us. And most importantly, someone who acknowledges it is only in Christ that we can be set free.
And we decide that we don’t have control over everything but we do have control over some things. We cannot choose what emotions, thoughts, or memories come upon us. But we can choose what we do with them. We can choose how we cope and what we seek in these times of need. We can choose to go to the Lord and trust that He will see us through. We can choose to seek the help of a professional rather than one more swig on the bottle or slash of the razor blade or swipe of the credit card. We can choose to walk with the Lord who sees us through the fire and makes sue that we are not set ablaze.
If you feel uncomfortable in your own skin today, I know it’s an awful feeling. I have been there, and it is no where that is fun or enjoyable to be. But what I can tell you is that there is always a way out – and in many cases this way is indeed through what you have been trying to avoid. Take steps today sweet sister to move through the pain, to seek the guidance of those the Lord has put in your life, to pray for wisdom and strength – and go on sweet sister to move into the freedom only Christ can and will bring.