The Necessity of Undoing: A Guest Post

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This has been a summer worthy of its own hashtag.

If I had the time or the desire, I’d go back through each sad event between May 8th and the day I posted about Irma’s projected path (because at press time, she hasn’t made it to the U.S.) and tag it #thesummerfromhellcontinues.

As I talked to my mentor via FaceTime today, she said, “You have been through trauma.”

I bristled.

Trauma? It’s not trauma. Trauma is what people are experiencing after Harvey. Trauma is sexual abuse or the loss of a child. This is not trauma, I thought to myself.

And this attitude of mine comes a few days after talking to two different women about two different things and me telling them that God wants them to know their pain is valid. Their wounds are valid. It is okay, I said, for them to lament and cry and point to all the broken pieces and be sad. I actually, this morning, told one of them to not compare her wounds with someone else’s.

Therefore, I know what I am telling myself is not the truth. Is it not easy to speak the truth and then shut one’s own ears?

I don’t want to validate my own pain because I don’t want to face it. Because facing trauma, whatever form it takes, is hard. The delusion that I fall for often, and maybe you do, too, is that avoiding the pain is easier than dealing with it. While that may be true in the short term, God has shown me again and again that something stuffed usually starts fermenting and then, finally, explodes.

The Power of Validation

I’ve learned so much over the past few years about pain and trauma. I have watched a friend process through some of the most horrific trauma possible. But I have seen God work and watched the Body of Christ do exactly what they were supposed to do (and of course, also the exact opposite, but that’s a story for another time). But none of what God did and what God did through us could be received to the full measure until my friend understood that her pain and suffering were valid. For most of us, we’re not going to try to fix something (or ask God to fix it) unless we know it’s a legit need.

And I bet some of us are afraid of having legit needs. We’re afraid they won’t be met. We’re afraid of what’s underneath the surface of the needs. We’re afraid our needs are too great for God or for those around us. We’re afraid of being rejected, of appearing too needy, of not being “strong enough.” We’re afraid people are going to scoff at the size of our wounds, whether they are too small or too big. We’re afraid of being overwhelmed and of overwhelming people.

We’re afraid of a lot. And so, we stuff the need. We stuff the pain. We throw some dirt over it, pop some “pain reliever,” and pretend all is well.

I’m just fine. Okay. Never better.

This is how I lived for so, so long without understanding that God desires for us to take up emotional space, to be a part of a community, to know and to be known—fully.

And He wants to know us—fully. Yes, it’s true that He already knows the number of hairs on your head (and if you’re bald, no, this is not God taking the easy way out), that He knit you together in your mama’s womb, and that there is nothing that can separate you from His love. But that’s not the same relationally as when you take the pain and joys, the frustrations and the elations, the hard and the mundane to Him and say:

Daddy, look.

And those two words just break me. They are my undoing: the undoing of my façade, the undoing of the lies I’ve told myself this summer, the undoing of my strength, of mustering up a little more to get through the next hard (or annoying) thing.

The undoing allows me to feel. It’s a crushing wave at first, overwhelming and I can’t breathe, but then, it recedes. I catch my breath, I see Jesus in this storm of grief with me. And I don’t have to panic, but I do have to ride it out.

There’s a difference between the calm that Jesus brings and the manufactured calm I try to create within myself. The calm that’s based on my own willpower fades when just one more thing pushes me over the edge. Either way, Jesus will bring me back up to standing again, but there’s less storm damage if I’ve let Him know my strength has run out, that He’s going to have to do the heavy lifting while I’m doing the hard work of just sitting over here and crying for a bit.

When you bring your pain out from the darkness and into the light, when you expose it to Jesus willingly, when you bring it, willingly, to your trusted community, when you hear God tell you that He’s so sorry that you’re hurting, when you hear someone in your group say, “Oh, yes, me, too” and “yes, that totally sucks and it IS hard” somehow, there’s a lightness there that wasn’t there before.

Yes, still healing to come. Yes, still wounds to explore. Yes, forgiveness to give and receive.

But no longer are you expending energy:
Stuffing
Hiding
Secret-keeping
Avoiding.

All these things take up our precious energy and we don’t realize the enormity of what we are wasting until we no longer have to spend it.

This is what I want to say to you: Your pain is valid. Your wounds are valid. And Jesus longs to heal them. He sees you standing over your broken pieces, trying to keep them from His view. He sees you trying to clean them up yourself so no body knows what’s been broken.

You may never be put together again in the same way, but God is a creative God and He makes ALL THINGS NEW. This means you, too.

Drag your pieces out of the closet.
Show Him them to Him.
You will not be scorned or shamed or belittled.
You will be covered, broken and all, with His love.

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” Psalm 30:11-12

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Thank you to a beautiful soul, willing to dig deep and share her inner most feelings for the higher good. May God bless you and your family today, Jen.

Jenfergusenbio

Bio: Jen Ferguson is a wife, author, and speaker who is passionate about helping couples thrive in their marriages. She and her husband, Craig, have shared their own hard story in their book, Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography. They continue to help couples along in their journeys to freedom and intimacy at The {K}not Project. She’s also a mama to two girls and two high-maintenance dogs, which is probably why she runs. A lot. Even in the Texas heat.

 

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10 thoughts on “The Necessity of Undoing: A Guest Post

  1. Trauma. Oh, sister, that word tore through me today. I’ve had such a hard summer and I’ve spent so much time trying to see the good that I buried the hurt. Yesterday we had yet another health incident: My son was diagnosed with pneumonia. I’m grateful for the diagnosis and the medicine, but inside I’m screaming, “When do we get to be done?” Thank you for naming what I’m dealing with.

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    • Oh, yes. I feel like I have “When do we get to be done?” on repeat. I find myself waiting for the next thing. I am so, so sorry for the trauma you have endured and I am praying for you right now, not only that you can be done with more trauma, but that you will find rest and peace as you care for your son. Praying he is better soon!!

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  2. This was just life giving and soul stirring. I felt every word and could relate on so many levels. Thank you for sharing this today. I’m working through so much, it seems laughable that God would use me to help others! But the advice and truth I so clearly relay to others, I must believe and accept for myself.

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    • Yes! God can redeem all things. Your comment reminds me of Genesis 50:20 – “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Thank you for sharing your heart today.

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  3. Jen I’ll tell you again how much I loved reading your heart in this. Love the hashtag – it really does apply! Thank you again for the encouragement to not compare my wounds to others’. Pretty sure minimizing my wounds has been a lifelong pattern for me, and I needed to be called on it. Old patterns breaking, walls coming down in my heart, beauty from ashes 🙂

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  4. I have learned that our pain is for God’s purpose through the traumas I have endured and the parents I mentor this is what I tell them. I sometimes I don’t take the advice I give and get overwhelmed and frustrated just like the parents I mentor and tell to breathe and take one minute at a time but sometimes those minutes get tossed at us all at once and we can’t see how to make it past to the next minute.
    That’s when God is there showing us the way

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