Where has the time gone? I've returned home, unpacked, and hosted a chili supper in our back yard for about 20 people. The unpacking did take a couple of days; but I came home with an extra bag. Once I put everything away I forgot what it was I bought requiring the extra bag. Isn't that how we sometimes deal with our hurts, pushing them back into a dark corner of our mind so we can forget about them. It is tougher unpacking unresolved things than extra stuff picked up while out of town. Of course some of us have been hiding away from our pain for so long we have several bags full to unpack. One at a time will do. I promised to share reasons for unpacking and here it goes.
Note: If you are one of those rare and blessed people who had a fairly pain-free childhood and an adult life free from deep hurts then read the following so you may develop a greater understanding for those who did not.
- Without an awareness of how your past has affected you it will most likely sneak up on you in similar situations or control your responses without your awareness. There are occasions when something will trigger my need to stay out of the way, to become small. My husband will point it out by saying, “You are acting small. I don't want you to be small in my life.” I know what it was about my growing up that makes me feel this way, and I am then able to remind myself this particular behavior is no longer necessary.
- Unresolved or unprocessed wounds from the past are like an infection; they poison the way we think about ourselves, others, and God. Unprocessed pain can leave us holding onto heavy lies drowning any hope of rising above the torturous cycle we circle through day in and day out, making the same poor mistakes over and over.
- Unpacking the past gives us freedom to be who we were meant to be and shines the light of understanding that offers us freedom from taking responsibility for the behavior of those who caused pain in our lives.
- Addressing the issues that hurt and confused us within significant relationships helps us to begin to let go of behaviors and beliefs that are hurtful to us and to others in our lives. It is a little scary at first because we do not know what else there is to hold onto. I can assure you it is better than you can imagine.
- When we ignore our pain we often resort to numbing our feelings. We numb ourselves with food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, intense relationships, video games, internet activities, exercising, hobbies or adrenaline-producing thrills. Some of the things we use to numb are good things misused, others are unhealthy or illegal. And the big surprise when numbing is the method: suppressing pain also means suppressing joy, hope, etc.
- Unpacking the past frees us to forgive others and ourselves. I am in no way a follower of Buddha but some of his words were quite reasonable. For example: “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
This is weighty, and if you were going on a plane you might find yourself paying extra for excess baggage. As mentioned previously, unpacking may require professional counseling. I think it is important to remember we can be free from allowing our wounds to identify us. Each of you is a unique and special person with a special purpose; the wounds of the past have affected you, but you do not have to let them define you. I am writing about things that happened to you, not because of you.
If you are a follower of Christ then you have the power of His Spirit within to set you free. This does not mean we are exempt from the work; the work of tearing down the lies and replacing them with the truth of His Word. God made us to heal; healing requires acknowledging the pain we carry.
I'm wondering what pictures pop up in your mind as I write about unpacking hurts. Is there any situation that has you chained to the past? Or a person who has power over your emotions because of an unhealed wound? Those of you who have gained freedom from deep hurt, what worked for you?