You’re a mess.
Why would you ask anyone to walk into this pain with you? You don’t have to go there, you know.
What were you thinking, writing a book asking people to dive into a pain pit?
It’s too much. You are asking too much.
These were the lies that circled around my mind as I outlined my book, wrote the first draft, re-wrote, and finalized the manuscript. After I published Can’t Steal My Joy, they worked their way back through my mind, into my heart. What if I did put too much out there? What if this invitation into my broken story does more harm than good?
A split-second thought said, “Take it off the shelves.”
But the Spirit inside me prompted me forward. Speak about it. Shout about it! Actually talk about it!
Our fight against pain and fear
Pain is a difficult thing to give ourselves permission to feel. Every ounce of ourselves fights against it, self-medicating with social media, food, alcohol, Netflix-binging, all so we don’t have to think about the underlying anxiety, or the depression setting in. It’s too hard to deal. So we cover it up and brush it underneath, because if we say the words aloud–they might swallow us whole and we’ll never recover. Fear tells us, Run! Self-preserve!
But, what if in the sweeping away, the ignoring, the hushing, the fleeing–we find our souls held hostage?
My friend is going through a medical scare. Her children both have special needs. Her biggest fear? What if something happens to her? What will happen to her kids? Her husband? Who will take care of them the way she can? The way she does? The fear spun her deep into anxiety and panic. This woman is a follower of Jesus. A passionate follower. As she expressed this panic, she said, “I hate fear. I’m trying so hard not to be afraid. My nose should be buried in the Bible.”
My heart broke for her. Because I’ve spun the same guilt message in my own mind. I can overcome this, I would think. My fear shouldn’t be here. I know better! And yet, fear insists on riding along.
The grips of fear, the hope of victory
I personally journeyed to the valley of the shadow of death with my son. I watched him take his last breath. In that moment, death was like a baseball colliding with my fragile window of a soul. The window didn’t stand a chance at survival. But as the shattered glass fell, a light poured brightly through the window–HOPE. VICTORY. And, in that moment my fear of death was ferociously wiped away.
That is, until I faced it again, or at least the potential of it. And the lies and fears spun and spun, threatening to swallow me up again and not let go this time. I might’ve slipped the grips of fear before, but my soul wouldn’t escape again.
Can we just talk about it?
I prayed for a response to my friend. Across my heart came a whisper, “Can we just talk about it?”
I set out to answer, everything in me wanting to say, “Let’s jump in together. Grab my hand–let’s dive into this pain. Let’s talk about it. Let’s uncover it for what it really is.” I didn’t write those exact words. But in our exchange was permission between us to speak frankly, to acknowledge fear and be aware of it’s presence. No more guilt stuffed down our throats for not quoting Bible verses until fear melted away. No more shame from our intellect, mocking us that we know better and yet our hearts still dare to live influenced by brokenness and pain.
I had a reader reach out to me recently. She said “Your book, your life, your story… you tugged hard enough at my emotional side and gave it confirmation to be visible. I’m different now. It’s a whole new way of looking at everything. I am capable of compassion and it’s okay to mess up, to be vulnerable, to feel however I feel at the moment. THANK YOU from the bottom of my once slightly less-than-frozen, but pretty cold heart. It’s warming up!”
The garbage compactor soul
Netflix tells you to click on the next show and you are promised another hour of numbness to your world, diving into someone else’s. Social media promises an addiction to scroll and ignore. Culture puts promise after promise in front of you saying, Buy this and you’ll be happy. Eat that and you’ll be healthy. Wear this and you’ll be beautiful. And so we act and do, all while deep in our soul, are emotions and pain we can’t even name anymore. We’ve been too busy stuffing it down, treating our souls like garbage compactors meant to house all the things we must hide. What if, instead, our souls are meant to hold our north star? The essence of who we are? The identity nothing and no one can taint?
Maybe in talking about our fears and pain, we actually find victory instead of death? Maybe it’s there where we talk about it that we unlock what we need to actually process our pain and fears.
Is your soul a garbage compactor or a compass to true north? Can we take a step out and say, No more to numbing. To hiding. To guilting ourselves. No more to treating ourselves like garbage compactors. Instead, can we link arms and say, “Let’s talk about it?” Let’s dive. Let’s uncover. Let’s discover what is being made of these broken pieces? Let’s hear what fear is teaching us. Let’s grab hold of the victory Jesus promised, even as we allow fear and pain to ride along.
After all, we get to drop them off to their final destination someday and we don’t have to get off with them.
Thanks for listening,
Hey friends! I am so grateful God’s given me the opportunity to share my words here. If these words speak to your heart, I’d love to give you monthly encouragement straight to your inbox. Once a month, I share what has been impacting and expanding my soul in hopes you find life breathed into you. I also include the insider scoop on upcoming projects, and some other goodies (think, family-tested and approved recipes)! When you sign up, you get the Can’t Steal My Joy book club guide (and it has some awesome family experience ideas!) for free! Would love to have you join me there.