It’s weird the statements that stick out to you. The ones you will remember all your life. Sometimes they are something profound and super spiritual or intellectual. Other times they are the simple statements that no one ever really thought would make an impact.
“It’s not like popping a zit, Stephanie…”
Said to me in therapy as I was processing tremendous pain. I was so angry that after I had talked about and processed it…that it didn’t go away. That after the majority of the bacterial pussy mess had finally oozed out, there was still work to be done.
So I thought to myself…well maybe there is more? Maybe there are parts I haven’t processed, and once I get those out – then I will be okay. I laid in bed at night, trying to remember if there was more…or if something else had happened that I had blocked out. When I realized there wasn’t…well maybe I was severely mentally ill. Perhaps I was just that sick and twisted that I couldn’t let it go. And so I researched mental illness after mental illness, diagnosing myself with every conceivable disorder. And then I thought, what if it’s something between me and God? What if I don’t have enough faith? What if I haven’t read the Bible enough? I poured myself into scripture hour after hour, day after day, to the point I was ignoring my family.
Yet it lingered…
Sermon after sermon…book after book…told me that God wanted freedom for me. To me, that meant I would never hurt again. That I would never think about what happened again – and if I did – it would be a gigantic rose garden transformed from ashes to beauty where nothing painful could possibly remain. Yet year after year, prayer after prayer, study after study, therapy session after therapy session – things changed – but something seemingly icky remained. I couldn’t shake the ickyness, and I couldn’t figure out for the life of me…why?
But then one day…several years later, I realized something. Until I stopped trying to push that last lingering bit of shame/depression/anxiety/hurt/pain – a conglomerated leftover gloppy residual mess – away, I would fight a losing battle.
Could it be that this stuff was actually there with function and purpose? That I wasn’t being continually robbed of freedom, or so dysfunctional I couldn’t accept it…no…this stuff might actually be part of the freedom plan God designed in the first place.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…”Isaiah 61:1
No where in Isaiah 61:1 does it say that we won’t experience a broken heart. No where does it say that freedom and release means the darkness ceases to exist. No where does it say that my mind, or yours, will be wiped completely void of every bit of pain we ever experienced. And could it be that this pain, the icky feeling that sometimes jumps into our throat and feels incredibly uncomfortable, allows us to share in the pain of others to a level that helps them know they are not alone? Perhaps part of the freedom Christ has given involves this tiny bit of leftover that allows us to sit with someone else who has experienced the same. What if it is a vital, crucial, essential part of our freedom gift?
This morning I got up with a big zit on my nose, disgusting I know, but I looked right at it and there were those words…Stephanie, it’s not like popping a zit…
Sweet friend who has done the work. The therapy. The Bible study. The coping skills. The essential pieces to healing…and yet you still feel just a little bit dysfunctional and messy…you are. And you are where you are for a reason. You are an amazing human rescued by an incredible Savior. Continually blessed to feel all of the emotions you feel for whatever reason and purpose God allows you to feel them. It’s not at all like popping a zit…and that my friend, is a really okay and beautiful thing.