As a child, I would hide my wounds from my parents. I was afraid of what pain the solution would bring. One time my dad removed a sliver from my skin with a pocket knife, so the next time I had a sliver I kept it a secret. The small sliver in my baby toe caused my foot to swell as the wound became infected. I preferred to risk the unknown that came with leaving the sliver unattended in order to avoid the pain that may accompany treatment.
Another time I told my mom to “not touch right here” gesturing to the back of my head as she brushed my hair “because it hurt”. It had been hurting for at least a day, and I did not come to her because I was okay with the present pain. It was manageable and familiar. It terrified me to think the solution may be one of those “it’s going to get worse before it gets better” type situations. Being the tom-boy that I was, 3 ticks had hitched a ride in the back of my neck while I played in the forest. I was correct in surmising that the solution would bring more pain before it got better.
When I was a teenager I got braces like many of us do these days. I had a cross-bite that required what looked like hydraulics to be attached to my braces. They told me it would cause soreness for a bit, so I carried on for more than a week, my cheeks becoming swollen and hard. My mom touched my face and I winced in pain. The little metal bars were stabbing the inside of my cheeks each time I opened and closed my mouth. I didn’t mention anything to anyone because I was told braces hurt. Upon my wincing in pain at her gentle touch on my face, she realized something was up and took me to the orthodontist. They all showered me with pity for what I had been dealing with. “It’s not supposed to hurt LIKE THAT,” they all said. How was I to know what it was “supposed to hurt like”, I wondered to myself.
How was I to know what it was “supposed to hurt like”, I wondered to myself.
Someone ran me off the road in college, causing me to hit a high curb going 40 mph, my right wheel bearing the impact, popping my tire and bending the wheel. I went straight to school because it was midterms. I laid in the back of the class, flat on a table due to excruciating lower back pain. I was told by a physical therapist that it was probably fine, so I didn’t go to the doctor for two weeks. Achievement was more important to me than my health. I later found out that my pelvis was shifted from the accident, requiring over a year of physical therapy treatment. After the case was closed, I went back to my method of ignoring the injury, doing my best to forget it ever happened.
Years later, my posture is still affected as other muscles compensate for the scar tissue and weakness from the injury. My shoulders have evolved to sit higher than they should, leading to tension in my neck and cranium. Recently my right eye became blurry for almost 5 weeks. I saw an ophthalmologist who thought it was an inflammatory disorder – which is partially correct, but his treatment did little to help. One acupuncture session reduced the blurriness by 90%. The cause: tension starting in my back, shoulders, neck, head and so on.
During the time of blurriness, I suffered from migraines almost daily. The double vision threw off my equilibrium causing dizziness and nausea. I became so discouraged as everything in my life was affected. My work was halted, my social life was removed, and my physical health suffered as I stopped working out because of dizziness. This physical manifestation of not tending to my health and healing was a real eye opener (ha. pun intended).
The ripple effect of leaving an injury unattended is so real.
My entire life I’ve settled for half-healing. I cover my wounds with achievement and serving others. Sure they still hurt when you touch them, but what’s more important is accomplishing goals and giving to the poor, right? There is this spirit of “You’ve got to earn it!” in my family; I feel almost guilted by some when it would appear my life is more free than theirs. So I ignore my needs and press on, ensuring that my achievements meet the lofty standard. Conveniently, this is also my way of avoiding the wounds that I don’t want to deal with.
My strategy is the same as it was during childhood: just don’t touch it! Problem solved. The pain is manageable, familiar, and I’ve learned how to drag it behind me – regardless of the weight.
As I listened to Know Thy Heart, a message from Stephanie Ike of OneChurch LA, I sobbed as she discusses the disfunction that comes with operating through the memories of scars. The scar would have you believe that the pain is in the past, but as Stephanie explains, while the scar itself may not pain you, the memories that accompany the scar still can be excruciating. This excruciating pain from the memory causes us to live life differently – walls are created for protection, methods of compensation are created to protect the injury, allowing no one to access it. Seeing the ripple effect of my back injury leading to loss of vision reveals just how important our heart-wounds really are. God has been trying to get my attention for a while now…
Since my relationship ended, I really believed that I had healed and moved on. I went to counseling, I read books on healing, and allowed time to go by. Yet, the pattern of my life for the past few years would reveal that I am still operating through the filter of the painful memory. I was a runner. I would physically leave any given situation at the drop of a dime; if it did not suit me, I was out! It didn’t matter the distance or what I had to leave behind, I would rather start new than stay near whatever was touching my heart-wound. I had a series of long-distance relationships (yep – all of them were long distance…) that I would end as quickly as they began. Even in a strong relationship with God, I experienced increased promiscuity (during my single times – at least I never became a cheater – one moral I was able to maintain).
The increased promiscuity is the part that really had me reeling.
Why do I keep doing this?! I set an intention to abstain, I value loyalty to my God, and next thing you know, I’m dating someone and we’re hooking up.
I have a few close friends that I am able to be candid with; talking it out, they always reassured me that having sexual desire is “normal”. I would know deep in my heart, this was not normal. No, this was on the line of addiction – I did not want to and yet I kept doing it, on my own free will! The manifestation wasn’t such that it took over my life, keeping me from my responsibilities, because I’m an achiever, remember? If I stopped achieving and caring for everyone around me, I would have to look at myself, and others would likely see my wounds. The fact that I still functioned at a high achievement level allowed me to downplay the situation… this isn’t addiction because it’s not affecting anyone else. << (Wrong. And I knew it.)
No, this behavior was not normal for me before, and I definitely don’t want it to be normal for me now, or in the future. My values and morals were not being reflected in my actions. I felt helpless and seriously at my rope’s end. I could not understand why I was doing things that I knew I didn’t want to do. I began to recognize that I simply did not care. Possibly my subconscious thought-process was that I was once in a committed relationship, and it almost destroyed me. It seemed easier (and safer heart-wise) to have shallow interactions with no commitment than to entrust my heart to someone; deep intimacy carried way too much risk.
Yet, I knew I wanted deep intimacy. I know a great partnership is a beautiful gift from God. I am able to logically understand that a healthy relationship set up by God, the Divine Love, would bring out the best in me, and I would bring out the best in my partner. I realize that two are better than one, and it’s not good for man to be alone. I was convicted that if I was not able to maintain loyalty to God during this season, why would he entrust a really great guy to me? My heart still operating from a place of pain and fear wouldn’t be equipped to nurture and care for this person the way I desire. Having thought through all of this and embracing it, still, my actions didn’t align.
Without even realizing it, I was living my entire life through the lens of scarred memories. My heart was polluted; I had yet to fully surrender these painful memories to God. I was still holding onto them for self-preservation. And the result was behavior that was not of God, no matter how bad I wanted to live in Truth. Here I thought I was a bold, independent woman who goes on countless adventures and missions alone, completely unafraid. Turns out my greatest fear was buried deep in my heart for no one to see. I thought I had left the past in the past, but the battle between my heart and mind would suggest otherwise.
Stephanie explains that there are three ways the enemy tempts/attacks us:
- Lust of the eyes
- Lust of the flesh
- Pride of life
My vice covered all three – perfect! I mean, I am an all-in or all-out kind of person, so it’s fitting that I’d knock down all three in one struggle. In 2 Samuel 12:13-14 David realizes his heart has been sick, and he has done wrong. He immediately takes responsibility, feeling distraught over his actions. Nathan, the man God had sent to deliver the message, in one breath tells David he has committed a terrible act, and in the next breath tells David that the Lord has put away his sin. Wow. Just like that forgiveness is provided and David is able to surrender his polluted heart for cleaning by the One who created it. This tells me that God is so caring – He doesn’t point out our screw-ups to condemn us, but to show us a better way.
After my humanitarian trip, God brought me back to my home city. It made logical business sense, and quite frankly, I had very few options because I had spent everything I had to go serve the least of these. I could have gone to Haiti and commit further financial suicide, but I knew God had more for me (and I wanted to build my business – ha.). Regardless of the reasoning, I was not thrilled on the idea of moving back home. I have been wondering why God brought me back here, knowing the answer would be revealed in time. My life this time around has been completely different than when I lived here before. I have time freedom and the flexibility to explore my mind, study whatever I want, and build my business on my terms. I have recognized this difference in lifestyle and wondered what God was up to.
I see now that God was stripping away all the accomplishments, projects, and busyness of my life so that all that was left was my raw self. Even my creativity stopped flowing. It was crucial to my God that my life slow down so He could provide the healing my desperately wicked heart needed. While the ‘pride of life’ would suggest returning to my home city was a downgrade, my soul realizes this was a rescue from my most loving Divine Father. He has shown me that just as important as it is to help the least of these, He cares equally about my wholeness and well-being. I have been on the run – achieving, accomplishing, and giving – subconsciouly avoiding the full surrender of these pain memories that were influencing all of my decisions.
Take away: When behavior is not aligning with intention, there is a heart-wound that has yet to be surrendered. I believe every addiction / acting-out / out-of-controlness is caused by a person operating through the lens of pain memories being held captive in a polluted heart. Ask God to reveal what scar-memories are weighing you down so that you may surrender them and move forward in wholeness.
I appreciate your prayers for me as I loosen my grip on the reins of my pain-memories that I have been clinging to for a sense of control and protection. I desire the most abundant life God has for me and I will not self-sabotage my destiny.
Thank you, God, for capturing my wild heart so that you could heal it from the inside out. There is no greater love or romance than that of the King who never gives up on you.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
Check out ‘Through It: Unveiling the Conqueror Within‘